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Demand for Renewable Electricity Surpasses 500 TWh in Europe

Jan. 29, 2019
Europe wants more renewable energy, even at a premium

Commenting on the figures for 2018 released by the Association of Issuing Bodies (AIB), ECOHZ Managing Director Tom Lindberg says that the demand for renewable energy in Europe has, for the first time, surpassed 500 TWh or half a billion Guarantees of Origin (GOs). “If the growth trend from the last five years continues, the GO market will soon surpass €1 billion (US$1.14 billion),” Lindberg adds. He notes that customers are willing to pay a premium on certain origins of energy.

The European Union (EU) had previously mandated that those documenting and reporting renewable energy consumption in Europe will have to buy GOs.

The current reported volume is 499 TWh but this is expected to increase by an additional 10 TWh when the unreported German Q4 figures are included. This will push the expected total demand for renewable electricity documented with GOs close to 510 TWh. This represents an impressive 8% increase from 470 TWh in 2017.

Demand for renewable electricity in France grows by 50%

The demand for renewable electricity continues to show robust growth in Europe's biggest markets. The Netherlands, France, Switzerland and Italy registered a record high demand in 2018. The French market demand increased from 21 TWh to 33 TWh in 2018 while Italy saw a record demand of 45 TWh compared with 41 TWh in 2017.

Although the final numbers have not yet been published for Germany, they are in line to exceed 100 TWh for the first time.

Record price levels in 2018

Wholesale prices for GOs averaged around €1.30/MWh (US$1.5/MWh) in 2018 while Nordic hydro GOs traded as high as €2.29/MWh (US$2.62/MWh). This indicates that the market is willing to pay higher prices even though the demand did not grow quite as aggressively as in 2017.

With demand for renewable power now exceeding 500 TWh and forward prices set at around €1.30/MWh, the annual value of the market exceeds €650 million (US$743.18 million). If growth trends continue, we can safely predict that this will be a billion Euro market in a few years.

Wind power continues to strengthen its position among buyers

Although hydropower is still the greatest source of renewable electricity, preferences are gradually shifting toward alternative renewable sources with wind power being the “technology of choice”. As the 2018 figures are updated and reported later in 2019, these shifts will likely become more pronounced. These changes in demand might not only reflect changes in customer preferences but also in market availability for different technologies.

The forces behind the demand

Households, organizations and businesses all contribute to market growth. However, the corporate sector is the main driver because more corporations see sustainability as a necessary aspect for future competitiveness. Several initiatives exist to support corporate sustainability ambitions. Two notable initiatives are WeMeanBusiness and RE100.

The RE100 initiative now has 161 corporate members that have all publicly pledged to consume 100% renewable energy. Global reporting initiatives like CDP and Greenhouse Gas Protocol are supporting this movement. Also, the EU recently approved a new Renewable Energy Directive (REDII), strengthening the GO system by further embedding it in the European legislation.

“The Guarantees of Origin is the primary tool in Europe to document the purchase of renewable energy and REDII represents a major step forward in strengthening the system of Guarantees of Origin,” says Lindberg. 

The above is a commentary based on figures published by AIB. Many of the AIB member countries have deviating reporting schemes and therefore the statistics are not fully complete at this point in time. Updated figures will thus contribute to strengthening the aggregate figures and trends but can potentially change country- and technology-specific conclusions.

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