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New Energy World magazine logo
New Energy World magazine logo
ISSN 2753-7757 (Online)

Drop in demand drives EU fossil fuels towards all time low


Aerial view over coal fired power station Photo: Adobe Stock
Fossil fuels generated 410 TWh in the EU in the first half of this year, making up the lowest ever 33% of demand

Photo: Adobe Stock

The first half of 2023 has seen has a collapse in European Union (EU) fossil fuel generation, leading to the lowest output on record, a new report from Ember has found. Meanwhile, wind and solar have continued their growth, with solar generation increasing by 13% and wind by 5%.

The new report notes that the fossil fuel fall was predominantly driven by a significant drop in electricity demand, amid persistently high gas and power prices, a reduction in industrial output and emergency measures over winter. To accommodate demand recovery at the same time as ensuring the energy transition remains on track, the EU must accelerate the deployment of clean power, with particular focus on addressing the barriers to renewables integration, Ember warns.


Between January and June, fossil fuels generated 410 TWh in the EU, making up the lowest ever 33% of demand. This collapse was led by coal, which fell by a staggering 23% in the EU in the first half of the year, while gas decreased by 13% year-on-year. In May, coal set a record by generating less than 10% of the EU’s electricity generation for the first time ever.


The study finds that amid high energy prices and emergency measures, electricity demand fell substantially to a record low of 1,261 TWh, below even 2020’s pandemic low of 1,271 TWh and the lowest since at least 2008 for current Member States. This drop was responsible for the majority of the decrease in fossil generation in the EU.


Growth in solar power continued in the first half of the year, with generation up 13% compared to the same period in 2022. Wind generation rose by 5%, while hydro recovered towards average levels (+11%). Nuclear fell (–4%) but is set to improve as the year continues. From January to June 2023, 17 countries generated record shares of power from renewables, with Greece and Romania passing 50% for the first time and Denmark and Portugal both breaking 75%.


Matt Ewen, Europe Data Analyst, Ember, comments: ‘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.’