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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

European Union power generation from renewables exceeded fossil fuel-based electricity for the first time in the first half of 2020, per new analysis Wednesday from the U.K.-based climate think tank Ember.

Why it matters: It appears to be an inflection point. Ember electricity analyst Dave Jones tells Axios that he does not expect fossil generation to regain a bigger share than renewables.

  • Only "exceptional circumstances" could temporarily change this, he says, such as a major shutdown of a French nuclear plant that leads to more fossil generation to compensate, or a very dry period that slashes hydropower.

Where it stands: Renewables accounted for 40% of EU generation in the past half-year, while coal's steep decline led to fossil fuels having a 34% share, Ember said.

  • Renewables output increased and wind and solar together reached 21% of European generation. Power from fossil fuels fell by 18%.
  • "Fossil was squeezed on two fronts: by rising renewable generation and a 7% fall in electricity demand due to COVID-19. Coal took the brunt, falling by 32%."
  • Carbon emissions from power generation fell by 23%.

The big picture: A Reuters piece explores a broader global transition underway, even though fossil fuels have by far the largest worldwide power share.

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Oct 26, 2020 - Economy & Business

Private equity shifts its attention to renewable energy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Private equity is watching the consolidation of the North American oil and gas sector from the sidelines, instead focusing its energy efforts on renewables.

Driving the news: Cenovus Energy on Sunday agreed to buy Husky Energy for $2.9 billion in stock, in a deal that would create Canada’s third-largest oil and gas producer.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 26, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Japan's big new climate goal

Climate protest in Tokyo in November 2019. Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images

Japan's new prime minister said on Monday the nation will seek to become carbon neutral by 2050, a move that will require huge changes in its fossil fuel-heavy energy mix in order to succeed.

Why it matters: Japan is the world's fifth-largest source of carbon emissions. The new goal announced by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is stronger than the country's previous target of becoming carbon neutral as early as possible in the latter half of the century.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
8 hours ago - Science

China makes history with successful Mars landing

A model of the Tianwen-1 Mars rover is displayed during an exhibition at the National Museum of China in Beijing. Photo: Wang Zhao/AFP via Getty Images

A Chinese lander carrying a rover successfully touched down on Mars for the first time, state media reports.

Why it matters: This is the first time China has landed a spacecraft on another planet, and it launches the nation into an elite club of only a few space agencies to successfully make it to the Martian surface.