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EU wind and solar energy production overtook gas last year

A report from UK clean-energy think tank Ember projects the gap to widen.

REUTERS/Andrew Boyers

Energy generated from solar and wind power reportedly overtook natural gas in the European Union (EU) for the first time last year. The data comes from UK clean-energy think tank Ember (via Bloomberg), which projects the gap to grow.

Solar and wind energy rose to an all-time high of 22 percent of the EU’s 2022 electricity use. Meanwhile, Ember projects fossil-fuel generation to drop by 20 percent this year — with gas falling the fastest.

The shifts stem largely from reducing reliance on gas and coal after Russia invaded Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin ordered the cutoff of natural gas exports to the EU as retaliation for Western sanctions. Ember says the resulting high costs helped lower energy demand by around eight percent in Q4 2022 compared to the same quarter the previous year.

“There is now a focus on rapidly cutting gas demand — at the same time as phasing out coal,’’ the report said. “This means a massive scale-up in clean energy is on its way.” It expects nuclear power to remain flat in 2023, with a planned phase-out of German nuclear reactors canceling out a ramp-up from France. However, it projects hydropower to rise by around 40 terawatt-hours this year following a severe drought in 2022.