Cleaner Electricity Mix For European Union In 2023 Than Ever

Ember: Record Renewables Growth Led By Wind & Solar But Installation Pace Needs To Further Accelerate

Cleaner Electricity Mix For European Union In 2023 Than Ever

Record growth of wind and solar in 2023 and expected further in the years to come shouldn’t make the EU complacent, reminds Ember in its latest report. (Photo Credit: Ember)

  • According to Ember’s latest flagship report, wind and solar-led renewables to exceed 40% of the EU’s total electricity mix in 2023 
  • While wind had a strong year as its generation grew by 13% YoY to 55 TWh, solar energy grew slowly on an annual basis to generate 36 TWh 
  • EU needs to focus on improving grids, storage and other enablers of system flexibility for wind and solar to help stay on track for 1.5° C targets 

The European Union (EU), for the 1st time ever, had 27% of its electricity generated by wind and solar in 2023 with the share above this level in as many as 10 nations, according to Ember. Thanks to wind and solar, renewables exceeded 40% of the bloc’s electricity last year as green technologies accounted for 44% of its electricity mix at 36 TWh. 

Both wind and solar surpassed last year’s record of accounting for 22% of the bloc’s total electricity generation (see European Wind & Solar Generation In 2022 Beat Fossil Fuels). 

Solar generated 36 TWh with a 17% annual increase, but its growth declined by 25% from 48 TWh in 2022. It accounted for 9% of the EU’s total electricity generation. Ember attributes this slow growth to lower irradiation in key solar energy producing nations as Germany and Italy. Solar and wind energy curtailment is also on the rise. 

Despite fears of solar panel stockpiling and grid-connection queues, solar PV deployments hit the record level of 56 GW, up from 41 GW in 2022, taking its cumulative capacity in the bloc to 263 GW. It is on track to surpass the REPowerEU capacity goal of 380 GW by 2025, as predicted by SolarPower Europe, according to the analysts in Ember’s flagship report European Electricity Review 2024 (see EU Solar PV Installations Reach 56 GW In 2023).

Wind energy generation went up by 13% year-on-year (YoY) to 55 TWh. In terms of capacity, it grew by 8% YoY with 17 GW in 2023 to a total of 219 GW. Together, both these technologies achieved their highest YoY increase on record. 

Portugal ran entirely on renewables for 6 consecutive days in November 2023, while the historically coal-dependent Poland had renewables covering 67% of its domestic power demand in peak moments in June 2023. Germany too operated entirely on renewables for 6 days in December 2023. It is Greece that’s emerging as a new leader for solar as solar generated 19% of the country’s electricity last year, followed by 18% in Hungary and 17% in Spain. 

According to the energy thinktank, 24 EU nations achieved a record share of solar in their electricity mix in 2023, with Latvia, Slovakia and Slovenia as the only EU exceptions. 

Growth of renewables was achieved as fossil fuel generation dropped by a record 19% to their lowest level ever at less than 1/3rd of the bloc’s total electricity generation. 

However, Ember analysts see this growth as ‘concerning’ and not enough to stay on track for 1.5° C targets. Both these technologies continue to struggle against economic headwinds along with slow permitting to outdated grid infrastructure and vulnerability to global supply chains. 

“Coal is nearing phase-out, and as wind and solar grow, gas will be next to enter terminal decline. However it is not time to get complacent. The EU needs a laser focus on rapidly deploying wind, solar and flexibility to create a system free of fossil fuels,” said Ember’s Europe Programme Director Sarah Brown. 

The report writers lay emphasis on improving grids, storage and other enablers of system flexibility to support the growth of wind and solar in the EU. 

The complete report of Ember is available on its website. 

About The Author

Anu Bhambhani

Senior News Editor: Anu Bhambhani is the Senior News Editor of TaiyangNews. --Email : [email protected] --

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