Renewables were the fastest growing energy source worldwide last year but barely grew in Europe because the weather was less windy and sunny, BP says.
Continued installation of wind turbines and solar panels helped to drive a 12 per cent increase in global renewable energy consumption, excluding hydro-electric power, last year.
China was responsible for about 40 per cent of the global growth in renewables, which account for about 4 per cent of global energy consumption.
Year-on-year growth in renewable energy in the EU was “almost zero”, however, because renewables were generating electricity less often than in 2015.
Spencer Dale, BP’s chief economist, said: “It’s quite an amazing thing. The reason why it was almost zero last year was that load factors of wind and solar in 2015 had been unusually high, so the wind was blowing a lot and the sun was shining a lot in 2015.
“It went back to normal levels last year and by going back to normal levels you got no growth.”
BP said that wind farm capacity in the EU grew by just over 8 per cent in 2016, yet wind power output actually fell by 0.7 per cent.
That compares with 2015, where a 9 per cent growth in wind farm capacity combined with unusually high wind speeds resulted in a 20 per cent jump in output.
Mr Dale added: “To me it brought out this point about how the variability of weather can have big impacts on the growth of renewables.”
In Denmark, which has installed particularly large numbers of wind turbines, “the decline of wind power alone represented a loss of almost 5 per cent of its total power generation”.
BP said that wind power accounted for the “lion’s share” of the increase in renewable power worldwide but that solar power was “catching up fast”.