Analysis shows that carbon emissions from the energy sector across Europe have fallen by nearly 40 percent due to coronavirus blockages.
CO2 emissions from electricity generation, including the harmful combustion of coal, were 39 percent lower in the past 30 days than in the same period in 2019.
The analysis of Ember climate think tank and published on Climate website Carbon Brief shows that coal has suffered from the drop in energy demand.
Electricity production from lignite and coal has fallen more than 40 percent over the past month from last year, due to costs.
The UK, in particular, has had a record 19 days without using coal-generated energy – the longest stretch since the Industrial Revolution.
Lignite or lignite and coal production both declined by more than 40% in the past month compared to the same period last year
Instead of coal with carbon, Europe has seen an increase in more environmentally friendly forms of energy generation, including wind and sun.
The lack of coal burning as an energy source is due to the costs of running coal-fired power plants in a financially unstable period, suggesting that electricity systems can abandon coal for good.
“Data from this unprecedented crisis period shows that electricity systems can operate smoothly and reliably, even when variable renewable energy sources such as wind and solar meet higher demand stocks, which were not expected until 2025,” said Dave Jones, an electricity analyst who is phasing out of coal from Ember.
The past month has also pointed to a lack of flexibility in the electricity market, with many power plants unable to shut down due to low or even negative market prices.
“Electricity systems need to become much more flexible to accommodate higher levels of wind and sun in the future, including through a responsive demand that can be turned on when power is cheap,” he said.
The figures from the Carbon Brief analysis, released on Wednesday, compare a period that started a month ago – when major European economies began to shut down to reduce the number of infections – with the same period last year.
Electricity demand as a whole has fallen by 14 percent in the 27 EU Member States (EU27) and the UK in the past 30 days, compared to the same period in 2019, figures show.
POPULAR RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES
Solar – light and heat from the sun.
Wind – by wind turbines to run electric generators.
Hydro – collected by falling or rapidly flowing water.
Tide – energy of rising and falling sea level.
Geothermal – energy generated and stored in the earth.
Biomass – burned organic matter to release stored energy from the sun.
Source: EDF Energy
Generation from lignite or lignite and anthracite or coal has both fallen by more than 40 percent over the past month due to the cost of the fossil fuel, including paying for carbon pollution.
The UK has had a record coal-free run since its closure, with more than 19 days without electricity generated from the fossil fuel.
On Tuesday morning at 6:10 AM BST, the country surpassed its previous record of 18 days, 6 hours, and 10 minutes.
Neighbors Portugal have lasted even longer without coal power, as they lasted a month without coal production.
In the EU27 and the UK, coal averaged 11 percent of the electricity mix in the past month, a record low for fuel.
Gas production across Europe has also fallen by 30 percent compared to the same period last year.
Renewable energy sources have also skyrocketed during closure, with solar parks taking advantage of the recent good weather
Renewables have meanwhile been boosted, with solar power generation up 28 percent from last year, due to sunny weather and new panel installations.
In total, wind and solar energy are responsible for 23 percent of European electricity production in the past 30 days, compared to 18 percent in 2019 as a whole.
In the UK, wind and solar power have generated nearly a third – 32 percent – of electricity, while Denmark leads 65 percent of its energy from the two renewable energy sources.
Due to the nationwide lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic in Britain, the country has consumed about 20 percent less energy than usual, this week was also revealed.
The analysis shows that carbon emissions from the energy sector in Europe have decreased by almost two fifths due to the blockage of the corona virus
The drop in demand as millions of Britons stay in coincided with 14 days of good weather, with energy consumption dropping.
Although the closure measures have increased household consumption at home while people are staying at home, this has been taken into account more than ever, thanks to reduced industrial demand.
“2020 will be a record year for Britain’s electricity system, and I have no doubt that we will see more exciting developments as the growth and performance of renewable energies continue to transform our network at an astonishing pace,” said Fintan Slye, director from National Grid ESO.
“Within days, we have seen a new record in solar power generation and the longest period of coal-free operation in Britain.”
Earlier this year, Carbon Brief reported that CO2 emissions in the UK have fallen by nearly a third over the past decade, even though the economy has grown by a fifth.
The country emitted 354 million tons of carbon dioxide last year – a nearly 30 percent reduction since 2010 – while CO2 emissions fell 2.9 percent in 2019 alone.
That figure puts pollution at its lowest level since 1888, with the exception of years of general strikes, during the industrial boom when Queen Victoria was on the throne.