Gigawatts solar potential in coal regions in Europe, finds new report

A new study from the EU’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), shows solar has enormous growth and job potential in coal regions in Europe. 

The study ‘Solar Photovoltaic Electricity Generation: A Lifeline for the European Coal Regions in Transition’ shows that solar PV systems have the potential to fully substitute the current electricity generation of coal-fired power plants in the analysed regions, with the potential to produce more electricity than decommissioned coal, contributing a total 874 TWh from solar, enough to replace the electricity output of the current coal power plants operating in these regions. Moreover, the study showed that by utilising just half of the available technical potential in coal and mining regions, solar would produce electricity at a lower cost than the current retail prices.

In addition, the JRC study found that if the retirement of coal and lignite mines as well as the coal fired power stations goes hand in hand with the installation of larger PV systems over the next 15 years, the installation of 580 GW of solar PV power capacity could provide about 135,000 construction jobs per year, and an additional 50,000 operation and maintenance jobs.

Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe said: “Solar has enormous potential in coal regions in the EU, that can bring new industry, jobs and clean affordable energy to those affected by the decline of coal, ensuring no one is left behind. Now, we look forward to continuing our work with the EU’s Platform on Coal Regions in Transition, where solar can play a major role in advancing a just energy transition for all.”

Photo: Decontaminated coal mining site in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium turned into a solar park.

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