Renewable energy is increasingly displacing fossil fuels in Europe

30 August 2023 17:48

London - Renewable energy generation in Europe rose sharply in the first six months of the year while fossil fuel use declined precipitously, according to Ember, a British think tank. The findings show how the continent can embrace the green transition despite geopolitical instability.

In June 2022, as the war in Ukraine raged and global energy prices spiked, many pundits predicted that Europe would face serious energy shortages. Instead, Europeans leaned into the green transition and reduced their fossil fuel consumption.

In a new report, London-based think tank Ember found that solar power increased 13 percent, hydropower increased by 11 percent, and wind power grew by 5 percent between January and June compared to the prior year. Fossil fuel generation, meanwhile, “collapsed” by 17 percent in the same period. High prices likely accounted for 5 percent of the drop in fossil fuels.

“Over summer, some countries went for significant periods without using the fossil fuels that have traditionally been bedrocks of their power systems,” wrote think tank Ember Europe Programme Lead Sarah Brown and Data Analyst (Europe) Matt Ewen in a press release.

For the first time in the European Union, wind and solar comprised more than 30 percent of electricity production in May and July 2023. Coal usage decreased by 23 percent, while gas usage dropped 13 percent as European countries cut Russian gas imports and found other supplies.

At the same time, countries boosted their solar capacity. Germany added 6.5 gigawatts of solar power generation, for example, a 10 percent increase. Leaders in many countries also proposed new measures to reduce barriers and expedite the construction of wind turbines.

The researchers warned that Europe still faced challenges. The region is now highly dependent on natural gas imports from faraway sources, for example.

“The recent rise in European prices due to the threat of curtailed LNG supplies from Australia is also a reminder that the risks of gas price surges remain, increasing as winter and the heating season approach,” they wrote. ce/jd

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