2024, year of renewables in Europe?
Renewable resources occupy a growing share of the European energy mix, but unequally depending on the nation. Overview, in our own way, of advances to date in this area.
2023 ended with an agreement described as “historic” by several parties, at the end of COP28 in Dubai: on December 13, some 200 countries around the world agreed on a “transition” away from energy fossils, with the aim of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
If the said text does not include a deadline or concrete means to definitively exit coal, oil and gas, it at least endorses a global desire for a change in the energy model in the long term. This global movement can also be seen on a European scale.
A contrasting assessment at the end of 2023
The current decade continues with new records. In Portugal, for example, 61% of the electricity consumed in 2023 came from renewable energies (+12% vs. 2022), with wind power in the lead, followed by hydroelectricity, a resource that is growing very sharply in the country. This historic percentage comes in addition to other performances at the European level, like Germany, which last year crossed the 50% threshold for electricity consumption covered by renewable energy for the first time, very supported by photovoltaics.
According to the German Association of Solar Energy Professionals BSW, which brings together around a thousand companies, installed power in 2023 increased by 85% to reach 14 GW. Around half comes from the residential sector which alone increases by 135% over one year. This boom in renewables, coupled with a sharp decline in coal consumption, enabled Germany to reach its lowest rate of CO2 emissions since the 1950s in 2023, at 673 million tonnes emitted - below the permitted maximum of 722 million tonnes of CO 2 by the German climate protection law. To the south, Spain should also approach the milestone of having half of its electricity mix from renewable sources in 2023, after having recorded a decline in 2022 (42.2% compared to 46.7% in 2021).
Solar Germany, France lacking renewable energy
Other European countries are lagging behind. Recent government data indicates that in France, the share of renewable energies reaches – only – 28% of gross final consumption of electricity in 2022. France has the particularity of relying largely on nuclear power, a relatively slow to develop in the territory, and not recognized as renewable. In renewable energy, wood energy is driving the market, followed by renewable hydraulics and heat pumps. Note, however, the gap with other countries whose delay is even greater. In Poland, for example, coal still represented almost three quarters (70.7%) of electricity production in2022.
High targets for 2024
If the current situations differ, the important thing also lies in the longer-term ambitions. Here again, the numerical objectives for renewable energies are not the same in all European countries. Spain, for example, projects that renewable energy will reach 74% of the electricity mix by 2030, and 100% by 2050. On Iberian lands with favorable weather conditions, it is mainly wind and solar power that are driving this booming market. In Portugal, ambitions are even higher in the short term: the country aims to produce no less than 85% of its annual electricity from renewables by the end of the 2020s.
Here again, we see that France is pushing the cursors insufficiently, with this same objective for 2030 amounting to only 40%. Insufficient, in any case, at the level of the European Union. Member countries will have to respect a quota of 42.5% renewable energies in 2030 . It is therefore a question of taking collective momentum to strive towards the highest possible goals, and thus act effectively against global climate change.