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EU fossil fuel use down 17% so far this year

By EARLE GALE in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-09-01 10:16

Bloc has reduced reliance on polluting sources of energy, less electricity used

The European Union used 17 percent less fossil fuel for electricity generation in the first half of 2023 than it did during the same period last year, as it made strides in ditching polluting sources of energy.

The drop in consumption across the 27-member bloc meant the EU used less coal, oil, and gas for electricity production than it had in any six-month period on record.

The bloc has set itself the target of cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent of their 1990 level by the year 2030, and of reducing them to net-zero by 2050, as part of its battle against global warming.

In the wake of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the EU has also vowed to end its dependency on fossil fuel produced by Russia.

The sharp drop in fossil fuel consumption between January and June was highlighted by the United Kingdom-based clean-energy think tank Ember, which noted that the reduction was not all down to the expansion of renewable energy, but was also because Europeans used significantly less electricity because of an unusually warm winter.

Ember's report found solar power was used to generate 13 percent more electricity in the first half of 2023 than in the same period last year. Wind generation contributed 5 percent more. And hydro electricity generation expanded by 11 percent.

But Matt Ewen, a data analyst at Ember and an author of the report, told The Guardian newspaper the fact that Europeans demanded less electricity must not be overlooked.

"We're glad to see fossil fuels down, but in the long term, it is not going to be sustainable to rely on the fall in demand to do this," he said. "We have to be replacing this energy, rather than just expecting it to go away and not be used."

Experts have said the expansion of the use of such things as electric cars will mean more electricity is needed in future than today. Ember said the EU must, therefore, prepare for additional demand by building more wind turbines and solar panels, and more massive batteries to store green energy.

While Ember said it would have liked to have seen even more power generated from renewable sources, it acknowledged some EU nations have massively ramped up their green power production. Greece and Romania are now generating more than 50 percent of their electricity from renewables. And Denmark and Portugal have passed the 75-percent milestone.

Ember's report backs up a study released in June by the nonprofit research organization Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, which said there had been "a clear shift away from fossil fuel-based power generation in the EU".

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