January 31 (Renewables Now) - Wind and solar produced a record 22% of EU electricity last year, helping Europe to avoid a return to coal power amid the 2022 energy crisis, according to a report published today by energy think tank Ember.
Wind generation increased by 8.6%, or 33 TWh, and solar by a whopping 24%, or 39 TWh, expanding their market share to more than a fifth from 19% in 2021.
Wind and solar for the first time outstripped gas, which generated 20% of EU electricity in 2022, a rise from 19% in the previous year.
The share of coal power in EU electricity expanded 1.5 percentage points to 16%, with coal generation declining in the final months of 2022.
The energy crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was exacerbated by low hydro and nuclear generation in Europe. A softening factor was a decline in electricity demand, down 7.9% year-on-year in the final quarter of 2022, due to mild weather in combination with affordability pressures, efficiency improvements and efforts to reduce demand.
“The shocks of 2022 only caused a minor ripple in coal power and a huge wave of support for renewables. Any fears of a coal rebound are now dead,” said Ember’s head of data insights, Dave Jones.
Europe’s transition to wind and solar is expected to accelerate in 2023. Ember projects that fossil generation could decline by 20%, or 211 TWh, in 2023, with gas generation to fall the fastest. After the 72-TWh rise in 2022, wind and solar are seen to increase by 86 TWh in 2023.