2010 was a pivotal year for utilities in Europe. It was not only the year that the shale gas revolution in the U.S. began to make natural gas more abundant worldwide but also the year that solar generation growth in Germany – Europe's largest economy and energy consumer – hit its inflection point with 7.5 GW installed, spurred by Germany's generous feed-in tarrif policy, the EEG. As Germany installed more zero marginal cost wind and solar and natural gas prices fell, the wholesale cost of electricity plummeted by as much as 50% in some countries between 2010 and 2016. For utilities that staked their future on coal with expensive carbon capture and sequestration systems – largely seen as the only option aside from the tightly regulated nuclear power industry – the outlook seemed grim.
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