Renewable Energy Production Increased 8.3% Last Year in Europe, Coal Consumption Dropped 16.3%


Image: Eurostat

The latest EuroStat report about energy production and usage in Europe in 2009 contains some good news (unless you are rooting for coal). While overall renewable energy production increased by 8.3% between 2008 and 2009, for a total share of 18.4% of energy production in the EU, coal consumption went the other way and dropped 16.3%. Part of that is of course due to the recession, but economic troubles don't explain the whole drop. Read on for more details.
Solar power in Spain. Photo: Flickr, CC

Another very promising stat concerns energy intensity (in other words, how productive the EU economy is with each unit of energy):

For the sixth consecutive year EU-27 energy intensity (gross inland consumption divided by gross domestic product) dropped while GDP continued a general upward trend over the same period. Exceptionally cold weather conditions may account for years registering high energy consumption.

Energy intensity is a measure of how much energy is used to produce a unit of economic output. The decoupling of increasing economic activity from increasing energy consumption is a goal for sustainable development.



Image: Eurostat
Uneven Performance
There's a lot of variability within the European Union. Some countries are doing better than others; Portugal, for example, has been expanding its renewable energy production capabilities very rapidly, going from 17% to 45% in 5 years, while Germany seems to be going in two directions at once, adding lots of solar and wind, but also relying heavily on coal, and Poland is still heavily dependent on coal.

Via Eurostat (pdf), NYT
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