The joint research center of the European Commission (JRC) found that the European coal region has 730.3gw of photovoltaic power generation potential. The study said that the transition to photovoltaic industry will also bring relevant full-time employment opportunities.
In February 2019, the capacity of the EU operated hard coal and lignite power plants was only 152.5gw. If the transformation is successful this time, 874.3 TWH of power generation can be generated.
There are 248 coal-fired power stations in the 21 member states of the European Union. In 2016, the power generation accounted for about a quarter of the total power generation of the European Union, which was 692twh. Under the “coal fired power generation is the past” initiative launched at the 23rd session of the conference of the parties, a total of 14 countries in the EU have committed to shift from coal to clean energy.
The researchers conducted a survey of photovoltaic production and installation potential in 42 coal mining areas of 12 EU Member States, and analyzed the available technology potential by modeling the available land in different geographical areas. The team identified 405 open-pit mines in the 12 member countries involved.
The mining pit area of the suitable area is 910.6 square kilometers, the potential is 62.2gw, and the estimated production is 72.2 TWH.
In addition, the team considered the overall land area of the area and determined that about 3% of the land in the area is suitable for ground photovoltaic installation, with a total installed capacity of 580.1 GW and a production capacity of 704.8 TWH.
Making full use of the roof area suitable for photovoltaic power generation can increase the total capacity by 88 GW and the production capacity by 97 TWH. Overall, the three options considered will generate slightly more electricity than the current coal and lignite power in these areas.
In the discussion of energy transformation, a common problem is how to create employment opportunities. According to the JRC, 180000 people in the EU are currently working full-time in the coal and lignite mining industry, while another 60000 are working in fuel burning factories.
The researchers cited a study from the U.S. solar energy census in 2018, which claimed that about 0.17 full-time jobs were required to operate and maintain photovoltaic power generation per megawatt and per year. Take the best case of 730 megawatts of installed capacity, which will create 124000 jobs.
In terms of installation work, photovoltaic projects require 3.5 full-time workers per megawatt and per year. The researchers calculated that if the installed capacity of photovoltaic power generation reaches 580 GW in the next 15 years while gradually reducing coal mining and combustion, the industry can provide 135000 construction jobs per year. The report said that although the labor force required to install PV will decrease over time, the operation and maintenance of 580 GW of installed capacity will add 50000 jobs.