Report highlights EU switch to green power

Renewable energy in the EU

A record 71 per cent of all the new power generating capacity fitted in the Europe Union in 2011 came from solar panels, wind turbines or other renewable energy sources, new figures show.

The Financial Times reports that in a sign of how green subsidies are reshaping Europe’s energy landscape, the amount of clean power installed in 2011 rose to 32 GW, according to a European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) report, largely thanks to a surge in solar installations in Italy and Germany.

That is a jump from the 23 GW installed in 2010, which accounted for 54 per cent of new power capacity put in that year, and the 3.5 GW fitted in 2000, which was just over 20 per cent.

The EWEA report comes amid growing opposition to onshore wind farms in many countries, which opponents claim are unsightly and inefficient.

“The 21st century sees the EU power sector moving away from fuel oil, coal and nuclear while continuing to increase its total installed capacity with gas, wind and solar PV to meet increasing demand,” it said.

Solar photovoltaic systems were the clear leader in 2011, making up 47 per cent of all new installations, more than gas and wind power, the next two biggest sources, combined.

The rise was especially pronounced in Italy, which became the world’s biggest solar PV market for the first time in 2011, according to the European Photovoltaic Industry Association.

Subsidy rule changes also saw a spurt of solar installations in the UK, where 700 MW was put in over the year.

Germany still leads the world in terms of the total amount of solar installations fitted and the European market as a whole is still the world’s largest, accounting for 75 per cent of global installations.

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