Last year, solar and wind energy overtook natural gas in the EU for the first time. This data is obtained from UK-based Ember clean energy think tank, which predicts the gap will widen.
Solar and wind power have risen to an all-time high of 22% of total EU electricity consumption in 2022. Meanwhile, Ember predicts that electricity generation from fossil fuels will decline by 20% this year, with gas the fastest.
These changes are largely related to the decrease in dependence on gas and coal after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Kremlin has ordered a halt to natural gas exports to the EU in response to Western sanctions. The resulting high costs helped reduce energy demand by about 8% in the fourth quarter of 2022 compared to the same quarter a year earlier, according to Ember.
“There is now a focus on rapidly cutting gas demand — at the same time as phasing out coal,” the report said. “A surge of clean energy is on its way.”
Nuclear power is expected to remain flat in 2023 as the planned phase-out of German nuclear reactors offsets capacity expansion in France. However, hydropower is forecast to grow by about 40 terawatt-hours this year after a severe drought in 2022.