The EU accelerates electricity transition in the wake of crisis
The European Union (EU) is responsible for 6.2% of global power sector emissions, down from 14% two decades ago. The region is leading the way on wind and solar, which generated 22% of EU electricity in 2022 – double the global average. Fossil fuels still accounted for 39% of generation.
The EU reached an important milestone in 2022, generating more electricity from wind and solar than gas for the first time. While fossil fuel generation rose 3% in 2022 in the face of nuclear outages and a 1-in-500 year drought, wind and solar helped cushion the deficit of hydro and nuclear. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, most EU countries have accelerated plans to reduce fossil fuel reliance. A boom in solar installations and clean technology deployment shows this rapid shift is already underway. .
To limit global temperature rises to 1.5C, the EU must phase-out coal by 2030 and fully decarbonise electricity by 2035. A number of countries such as France and Sweden already generate over 90% of their electricity from zero emissions sources, while others such as Spain and the Netherlands plan a major transformation this decade, and have seen extraordinary growth in wind and solar in recent years. Careful planning and investment will be needed to underpin this momentum and reach clean power by 2035. While solar growth is set to meet and exceed EU targets, wind power is facing challenges that will need to be addressed, or else risk slowing down much-needed growth.
Last updated: April 2023