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EU renewable power increses, fossil generation slumps in H1 2023

Wind and solar generation continued to grow in the EU in the first half of 2023 as fossil generation collapsed 17% compared to the first half of 2022 against the backdrop of lower electricity demand, according to an analysis by energy think-tank Ember.

Solar generation surged 13%, or 13 TWh, on fast capacity expansion, which has continued in the first six months of 2023, when Germany, for instance, added 6.5 GW of solar capacity, Poland over 2 GW, Belgium at least 1.2 GW and Italy 2.5 GW. Solar may even be underestimated as behind the meter distributed solar is accounted for as “missing” demand in some countries, Ember noted on Wednesday.

Wind generation rose by 4.8%, or 10 TWh. Despite countries’ increased ambitions, installation rates are hindered by various barriers such as rising costs and policies in some member states. In the first half of 2023, Germany installed only 1.5 GW of new wind and the entire EU added less than 2 GW of offshore wind.

Renewables are continuing to break records. According to the report, in the first six months of 2023, as many as 17 countries saw record shares of renewable generation, with Greece and Romania crossing 50% for the first time and Denmark and Portugal exceeding 75%.

Hydro generation moved back towards average levels, rising 11%, or 15 TWh, while nuclear fell 3.6%, or 11 TWh.

Fossil generation dropped 17, or 86 TWh, to 410 TWh, the lowest since at least 2000, with coal plugging 23%. The EU’s electricity demand fell 5% in the period to 1,261 TWh on high energy prices and emergency measures to rescue consumption.

“The decline in fossil fuels is a sign of the times. Coal and gas are too expensive, too risky, and the EU is cutting them out. But we need to see clean power replacing fossil fuels faster. A massive push, especially on solar and wind, is urgently needed to underpin a resilient economy across Europe,” commented Matt Ewen, Europe data analyst at Ember.

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