Wind and solar displace a fifth of the EU's fossil fuel generation since 2019

Green Forum
Since the current European Commission took office in 2019, the EU's power sector has undergone significant changes. Wind and solar energy have rapidly expanded, reducing fossil fuel generation and lowering emissions. This growth has solidified the EU's leadership in the global energy transition, with many Member States adopting ambitious energy and climate policies.

Since 2019, wind and solar capacity in the EU has grown by 65% (+188 GW). Wind capacity increased by 31% (+52 GW) to 219 GW in 2023, while solar capacity more than doubled (+113%) from 120 GW to 257 GW. This is equivalent to installing over 230,000 solar panels daily over four years.
The increased wind and solar capacity led to a 46% (+226 TWh) rise in combined generation from 2019 to 2023. Consequently, wind and solar's share of the EU electricity mix grew from 17% in 2019 to 27% in 2023. This was a key factor in boosting the share of total renewables from 34% in 2019 to 44% in 2023.

Fossil fuel generation dropped by 22% (-247 TWh) from 2019 to 2023, with significant reductions in both coal and gas generation. Coal generation decreased by 25% (-115 TWh) despite a temporary rise in 2021 due to the energy crisis and delayed coal plant closures. Gas generation fell for four consecutive years, ending 2023 at its lowest level since 2015, 21% below its 2019 levels (-120 TWh). This decline resulted in the share of fossil generation falling below a third (32.5%), down from 39% in 2019, leading to an 18% drop in power sector emissions.
The increase in wind and solar generation (+226 TWh, +46%) displaced a fifth of the EU's fossil generation from 2019 to 2023. Without this growth, fossil generation would have only fallen by 1.9% (21 TWh) instead of the significant 22%, as lower electricity demand offset the decrease in generation from other clean sources.

Wind energy's strong growth since 2019 led to a major milestone: in 2023, wind generation surpassed gas to become the EU's second-largest source of electricity. Wind generation increased by 28% (+103 TWh) from 2019 to 2023, reaching a 17.5% share of EU electricity. In 2023, wind produced 470 TWh of electricity, equivalent to France's total electricity demand, while gas generated 449 TWh.

The shift to wind and solar is evident across EU Member States. Germany (+42 GW, +38%) and Spain (+25 GW, +69%) led the way, contributing 22% and 13% of the new capacity, respectively. More than half of the 27 Member States have at least doubled, and in many cases more than tripled, their wind and solar capacity from 2019 to 2023. These 14 countries, excluding Germany and Spain, added 74 GW of new wind and solar capacity, representing 39% of the total EU increase since 2019. This includes countries with previously limited capacity, such as Slovenia, which added 800 MW to reach 1 GW in 2023, and larger systems like the Netherlands, which tripled its capacity to reach 35 GW by adding 23 GW.

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Green Forum  |  20 June, 2024 at 8:04 AM