2022: wind and solar produced more electricity than gas or coal within union

A report of the Think Tank Ember believes that the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis accelerate the transition and did not cause “return to coal”.

by Perrine Mouterde

The reopening of coal -fired power plants, in the wake of the start of the war in Ukraine, had raised fears that the energy crisis will bring a severe blow to the fight against global warming in Europe. This worse scenario seems to have been avoided: according to A report of the Think Tank Ember , published Tuesday January 31, the year 2022 was on the contrary marked by an acceleration of the deployment of solar and wind, the crisis having only had “minor effect” on electricity production from coal.

In 2022, wind and solar thus jointly produced more electricity (22 %) than coal (16 %) within the European Union (EU), but also more than gas (20 %) – which is a first. “All the fears of a return of coal are now deciduous, insists Dave Jones, responsible for the analysis of data at EME. Not only are European countries still determined to gradually eliminate coal, but they are now also striving ‘Eliminate gas. “

Shortly after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the recourse to coal jumped well, increasing by 35 % in March 2022 compared to March 2021. But this trend did not extend. In the past four months of the year, electricity production from this fossil fuel was lower than it was a year before. According to the EMPER census, the 26 coal production units put in service only operated in the last quarter only 18 % of their capacities. The Think Tank also notes that the EU has used only a third of the 22 million additional tons of coal imported in 2022.

France, net importer

In total, the results are still negative: electricity production from coal increased by 7 % in 2022, contributing to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions from the electric sector of 3.9 %. “It could have been much worse: wind, solar and a drop in demand for electricity prevented a much greater return to coal,” insists the report.

The year 2022 was indeed marked by two major phenomena. First, Europe having known its worst drought for at least five hundred years, the production of hydroelectricity has reached its lowest level for more than twenty years ( – 19 % compared to 2021) – France was the ‘One of the most affected countries. Then, nuclear production also experienced its lowest historic level (- 16 % compared to 2021), due in particular to the cessation of an unprecedented number of French reactors for maintenance operations and corrosion problems, and gradual closure of the last German power plants.

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/Media reports cited above.