Wind and solar power provided more power to European Union countries than natural gas for the first time in 2022, a year of energy upheaval precipitated by war in Ukraine, according to a report by think tank Ember released on Tuesday.
In 2022, wind and solar provided almost a quarter (22%) of all the electricity consumed in the European Union, much more than coal-based electricity (16%) and even exceeding "
for the first times the fossil gas (20%)
” used in electricity generation, according to the energy think tank European Electricity Review.
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Europe has avoided the worst of the energy crisis,
" said Dave Jones, head of data analysis at Ember quoted in a press release.
The shocks of 2022 caused only a slight increase in coal power but a huge wave of support for renewables.
Any fear of a coal rebound is now over
,” says the analyst.
This rise in renewables was driven by solar energy, the production of which increased by 39 terawatt hours (TWh, +24%) compared to 2021, a record.
By way of comparison, France's nuclear power plants produced 279 TWh in 2022.
After the invasion of Ukraine and the gradual closing of Russian gas pipelines, Europe had to massively import liquefied natural gas transported by ship and relight coal-fired power stations.
But without solar and wind power, it would have been necessary to use even more coal, according to analysts.
In detail, coal-fired electricity production increased by 7% between 2021 and 2022 (+28 TWh), but the use of coal-fired power plants actually declined in the last four months of the year.
The sharp decline in European electricity demand (-7.9%) in the last quarter, compared to last year, also helped a lot to move away from coal.
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For Ember, electricity from wind and solar farms has therefore proven to be very useful in overcoming both the gas crisis and the electricity crisis that hit Europe at the same time, due to the shutdown of many nuclear reactors. French and a drought that lowered the levels of the dams.
Record growth in solar and wind power has helped to offset the nuclear and hydro power deficit
,” according to the report.