Europe's energy revolution: the fall of fossil fuels

Published: 19.02.2024 Related countries:  India India

Renewables generated 44% of all electricity consumed in the EU last year, reducing fossil fuel consumption by more than a quarter. Last year, coal-fired electricity generation fell by 26% and gas-fired generation by 15%, representing the largest year-on-year decline in these fuels since at least 1990.

Yesterday, Ember released data confirming significant progress in the European Union's energy transition in 2023. The EU accelerated its shift away from fossil fuels last year, with record declines in coal, gas and emissions. Fossil fuels fell by a record 19% to an all-time low, accounting for less than a third of the EU's electricity generation.

In the Czech Republic, emissions in the power sector fell by 16% due to lower coal-fired electricity exports, but also the restart of renewable energy sources, especially photovoltaics. The share of renewables in electricity generation rose to a record 44%, exceeding 40% for the first time. This growth in renewables has been driven by wind and solar power, which generated a record 27% of EU electricity in 2023 and achieved the largest ever annual capacity addition.

In addition, wind power generation has reached a significant milestone, surpassing gas-fired generation for the first time. Last year, the Czech Republic achieved nearly a gigawatt of solar growth after a decade of stagnation. Annual production data show that solar plants produced about 16 percent more net electricity year-on-year. This was mainly due to an increase in the installed capacity of photovoltaics by around 40%.

Combined wind and solar generation in Europe increased by a record 90 TWh and installed capacity by 73 GW. Solar continued its strong growth with 56 GW of additional capacity in 2023 compared to 41 GW in 2022 (+37%).

As wind and solar power grow, grids, storage and other tools to enable system flexibility will become increasingly important. However, grid modernisation is also necessary due to ageing infrastructure, especially in Central and Eastern Europe. Around a third of Europe's low-voltage grid is older than 40 years and this will rise to 55% by 2030.


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