A flood of renewable capacity in the European Union is forcing member countries to consider grid upgrades that offer a more substantial power supply management role to distribution system operators.
With the final numbers now in, European grid operators and regulators report that almost 90% of all new power coming online in the European Union (EU) last year came from renewable sources. This trend is anything but over: Of the 24.5 GW of new capacity built across the EU in 2016, 21.1 GW—or 86%—was from wind, solar, biomass, and hydro, eclipsing the previous record of 79% in 2014.
Also, for the first time, wind farms now account for more than half of installed capacity in the region, according to data from trade group WindEurope. Wind energy has now also overtaken coal as the EU’s second largest source of power capacity after natural gas—though due to the technology’s intermittent nature, coal still meets more of the bloc’s actual electricity demand. Gas, because of its expense, remains primarily as a back up to maintain grid integrity.
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