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Power generation from fossil fuels in the European Union plunged by 17% to the lowest on record in the first half of 2023, amid a 5% decline in EU electricity demand and record-high renewables output in many countries, think-tank Ember Climate said in a new report.
EU electricity demand continued to be low in the first half of the year as power and gas prices were high in the winter and industrial production slowed. The drop in demand led to a collapse in coal and natural gas-powered generation, while solar and wind electricity generation rose, according to the report.
Solar power output rose by 13% and wind generation increased by 5%.
“Hydro and nuclear are recovering from their historic lows in 2022, though their long term outlook is uncertain,” Ember said.
So in the first half of 2023, fossil fuels generated 410 terawatt-hours (TWh) in the EU, accounting for 33% of power demand, the lowest on record. Coal generation led the plunge with a 23% decline and natural gas-powered generation fell by 13% year-on-year in the first half of 2023. In May, coal set a record low by generating less than 10% of the EU’s electricity generation for the first time ever, Ember noted.
On the other hand, renewable power generation rose, led by solar and, to a lesser extent, wind.
A total of 17 EU countries generated record shares of power from renewables in the first half of 2023, with Greece and Romania passing 50% for the first time, and Denmark and Portugal both breaking 75% share of renewables.
“The decline in fossil fuels is a sign of the times. Coal and gas are too expensive, too risky, and the EU is cutting them out,” said Matt Ewen, Europe data analyst at Ember.
Still, the EU needs much more solar and wind capacity and generation to replace fossil fuels faster and to underpin a resilient economy, Ewen added.
Earlier this week, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said that the surge in fossil fuel prices last year made renewable energy sources more competitive globally, with 86% of all newly installed renewable capacity exhibiting lower costs in 2022 compared to electricity from fossil fuels.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.