01 Jul 2024, 13:38
Ruby Russel

EU surpasses 50% renewable power share for first time in first half of 2024

Clean Energy Wire

Eurelectric corrects figures: Power demand in the EU decreased by 5.1% in the first half of 2023, compared to 2022, and was 4.8% lower in the first half of 2024, compared to 2022.


Electricity industry association Eurelectric has released figures showing that 50 percent of public electricity generation in the EU came from renewables for the first time in the first half of 2024. The association said Europe was decarbonising at an unprecedented pace, with 74 percent of power coming from "renewable and low-carbon energy sources," which includes nuclear power, marking "a significant increase" compared to the 68 percent share in 2023, Eurelectric said. "The pace of change is impressive. These figures document that the decarbonisation efforts of electricity companies are years ahead of any other sector," said the secretary general of Eurelectric, Kristian Ruby. However, Eurelectric said data on electricity demand was less encouraging: Due to "industry relocating abroad, warmer temperatures, energy savings and slow economic growth," power demand in the EU in the first half year 2023 decreased by 5.1 percent compared to same period in 2022 and has continued to remain low in the first half 2024, at 4.8 percent less than two years earlier, said Eurelectric. A lower demand for electricity should not suggest that the EU can neglect investments in the sector, Ruby stressed.

In Germany, meanwhile, renewables covered 58 percent of gross electricity consumption in the first six months of the year, according to preliminary figures by the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) and the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW). In a press release, ZSW Managing Director Frithjof Staiß said the record figures showed that an "efficient, reliable, secure and greenhouse gas-neutral power supply" was achievable by 2035, adding that Germany and Europe should produce more of the required technologies at home. BDEW chair Kerstin Andreae also called for Germany to remove hurdles to the development of power storage and grid infrastructure.

Moreover, 65 percent of all electricity fed into the German grid (public net electricity generation) in the first six months of 2024 came from renewable energy sources, preliminary figures from the Fraunhofer Institute show. This is higher than the BDEW and ZSW's numbers as it only accounts for consumer supply and does not include power directly generated for industry, which still relies on oil and gas to a great extent. The Fraunhofer Institute's figures show fossil-fuel generation falling 15 percent. Generation from brown coal (lignite) fell by 25 percent – yet remains the country's second biggest power source after wind, at 21 percent. Wind accounted for 34 percent of Germany's public net electricity generation, with 15 percent coming from solar installations, the Fraunhoer Institute said.

Germany is aiming for 80 percent renewable power in its gross electricity consumption by 2030, with wind considered the most important source. The increasing electrification of sectors that so far rely on other energy sources, especially heating and mobility, are likely to boost the total demand for electricity in the next few years while cutting fossil fuel use. However, this does not lead to an increased overall energy demand, as conversion losses tend to be lower in electricity-based applications.

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