European Wind & Solar Generation In 2022 Beat Fossil Fuels

Ember Says Solar ‘Shielded’ Europe From Energy Crisis With ‘Largest Ever Absolute Increase’ In Electricity Generation In 2022

European Wind & Solar Generation In 2022 Beat Fossil Fuels

The EU braved sky-rocketing prices of fossil fuels and their tight supply in 2022 by boosting wind and solar power that for the 1st time ever exceeded the share of coal and gas with 22% to see the bloc through, according to Ember research. (Source: Ember)

  • Ember’s new report claims wind and solar generated 22% of the EU’s total electricity generation in 2022, exceeding coal and gas
  • With drought impacting hydro power generation and in the face of limited nuclear power, solar stepped up to provide 7.3% of bloc’s electricity
  • Rooftop solar capacity also grew last year as 25 GW came online, accounting for 66% of the 209 GW cumulative solar PV capacity of EU at the end of 2022

The year 2022 was a significant year for Europe when wind and solar power generated more than a 5th of European Union’s (EU) electricity with 22% share, overtaking 20% generated by expensive fossil gas and 16% coal power for the 1st time ever, but it was solar that ‘really shined’ as it shielded Europe from the energy crisis, says Ember in a new report.

With 41 GW new solar PV capacity installed in 2022, the EU saw the largest ever absolute increase in solar electricity generation as it rose by 24% or 39 TWh, reaching a cumulative capacity of 209 GW (see European Union To Exit 2022 With Over 41 GW Solar Installed).

Overall, solar accounted for 7.3% of EU electricity last year with 203 TWh generation, growing its share from 5.7% in 2021. In the 4 summer months of May to August 2022, 12% of the bloc’s power supply came from solar, making it the 1st summer in EU’s history for solar to exceed 10% as drought pulled down hydro power generation, and nuclear supply was limited, according to the Ember report titled European Electricity Review 2023.

It was the Netherlands that generated maximum solar energy last year with 14% of its electricity supply coming from this clean energy source, also surpassing coal generation like Greece for the 1st time. The latter is expected to reach its 8 GW solar capacity target of 2030, 7 years early, by the end of 2023.

In terms of annual PV additions, Germany was on top with 7.9 GW, Spain 7.5 GW, Poland 4.9 GW, the Netherlands 4.0 GW and France 2.7 GW.

While federal governments and the EU responded to the Russian aggression of Ukraine by cutting down Russian fossil fuel imports, electricity demand and advancing climate policies, denizens joined in with uptake of rooftop solar panels to generate their own electricity and reduce stress on the grid.

According to the climate think tank, European households installed 25 GW rooftop PV capacity in 2022, 8 GW more than in 2021, accounting for 66% of the 209 GW cumulative solar PV capacity of EU.

Ember analysts forecast demand for solar to continue to rise with nearly 600 GW cumulative capacity installed till 2026 citing SolarPower Europe’s (SPE) forecast of annual capacity additions reaching an estimated 85 GW to 120 GW by then.

“Solar growth has consistently exceeded expectations, and policies are continuously evolving to enable higher targets. The current ambition from REPowerEU and Solar Power Europe is aligned with and even overshooting the requirements for 1.5C,” reads the report. “Member States must ensure that regulation and infrastructure is fit for purpose to enable the rapid rate of deployment of renewables that is not only necessary but inevitable.”

Going forward, the think tank foresees 20% drop in EU’s fossil generation in 2023 with both coal and generation to fall. Gas generation decline will be the fastest because of high prices. It also expects hydro generation to rebound and French nuclear units to come back online this year. At the same time wind and solar deployment will accelerate as well.

“Europe’s clean power transition emerges from this crisis stronger than ever. Not only are European countries still committed to phasing out coal, they are now striving to phase out gas as well,” opined Ember’s Head of Data Insights, Dave Jones. “The energy crisis has undoubtedly sped up Europe’s electricity transition. Europe is hurtling towards a clean, electrified economy, and this will be on full display in 2023. Change is coming fast, and everyone needs to be ready for it.”

Complete report is available for free download on Ember’s website.

In an earlier briefing paper, Ember and E3G counted EU to have saved €99 billion in additional costs since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, thanks to wind and solar power (see Wind & Solar Helped EU Save €11 Billion During Ukraine War).

About The Author

Anu Bhambhani

SENIOR NEWS EDITOR Anu is our solar news whirlwind. At TaiyangNews, she covers everything that is of importance in the world of solar power. In the past 9 years that she has been associated with TaiyangNews, she has covered over thousands of stories, and analysis pieces on markets, technology, financials, and more on a daily basis. She also hosts TaiyangNews Conferences and Webinars. Prior to joining TaiyangNews, Anu reported on sustainability, management, and education for leading print dailies in India. [email protected]

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