In a first, EU wind power surpasses natural gas power

Chief Europe Correspondent
Source: Ember, Annual European Electricity Review • "Other" includes bioenergy, other fossil fuel sources and other renewable energy sources.

The European Union’s coal and natural gas electricity dropped a record amount in 2023, leading to an unprecedented decrease in power sector emissions, fresh data out today shows. 

Fossil generation accounted for less than a third of EU power generation last year, according to think tank Ember. 

As coal and gas drop, wind and solar are picking up the slack. As a percent share of the overall electricity mix, wind surpassed gas power for the first time last year, having passed coal just a couple years earlier.  

Meanwhile, wind and solar combined achieved their highest ever year-on-year increases, producing a record 27% of the EU’s electricity in 2023. It was the first time wind and solar have provided more than a quarter of the bloc’s power. 

A 3% decline in electricity demand compared to 2022 also contributed to the drop in fossil fuel generation. But demand is expected to start ticking upward in the coming years as electrification increases, Ember said. 

As electrification takes off through more heat pumps, electric vehicles and electrolysers, the EU will enter a new era of rising electricity demand,Ember’s global insights director Dave Jones said in a statement.“Renewables will need to keep pace with that demand increase in order to deliver the emissions cuts needed for a safe climate. 

A similar transformation is underway in the United States, albeit one where natural gas remains dominant while renewables overtake coal.