Europe's electricity could be 80% fossil fuel-free by 2030: industry group

FILE PHOTO: Migratory birds, headed towards Africa, perch on electrical cables in Cambrils near Tarragona December 20, 2013. REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino

LONDON (Reuters) - As much as 80% of the European Union’s electricity could be fossil fuel-free by 2030, regardless of whether the European economy faces a prolonged economic crisis, industry association Eurelectric said on Monday.

Eurelectric represents European national electricity associations and leading national electricity companies.

In the first half of this year, two thirds of electricity generated in the EU was carbon-free. Renewables generation accounted for 40% of the electricity mix and fossil fuel generation dropped by 18% year-on-year to 34%, it said in a report.

A decade ago, renewables accounted for 20% of the EU’s electricity mix and last year they accounted for 34%.

“This year, the power sector has proven its crucial value for society by providing hospitals, government offices and millions of home-working Europeans with clean and reliable power throughout the pandemic,” said Kristian Ruby, secretary general of Eurelectric.

“In order to meet the 2030 targets, or go even further, we must urgently remove the specific barriers holding back the progress on the ground,” he added.

To meet the EU’s 2030 climate targets, wind and solar capacity must double and obstacles must be overcome.

Recently, restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic have delayed many projects and permitting procedures are slowing down progress. Electric car infrastructure also needs to be rolled out and the growth in coal imports needs to be stopped, the report said.

Reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by Mark Potter