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Littleton, Colorado — Europe’s power producers boosted clean electricity generation to a new record in January thanks to steep jumps in output from hydro and solar sites during the first month of 2024.

The 268.5 terawatt-hours (TWh) of clean electricity output in January was the second consecutive month of record-high clean generation in Europe, and was 8.4% more than the same month in 2023, data from energy think-tank Ember shows.

Clean power’s share of total electricity generation also hit a new milestone in January, accounting for 59.5% of total electricity generation that month in Europe, compared to 56% for the same month in 2023.

The widespread advances in clean electricity output indicates that Europe’s electricity generators continue to make important progress towards energy transition goals, even during the coldest months of the year when fossil fuel-powered generation has historically peaked.


Fossil fuel electricity generation also increased in January from December’s total, but sharply lagged the growth rate in clean generation.

Fossil fuel generation was 186TWh, down 11% from January 2023 and the lowest for the first month of the year since at least 2015, Ember data shows.

Europe’s power sector emissions trend mimicked that of fossil fuels use, and dropped to 138-million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide and equivalent gases, and the lowest January total in at least nine years.

The low level of fossil-based generation in January will raise the hope of steep declines in fossil generation for the year as a whole, as for the past two years January has marked the annual high point of gas and coal-fired generation in Europe.

Relatively mild weather so far this winter has been a key factor limiting the need for fossil generation, as above-normal temperatures have reduced the need for heating in many areas.

The record pace of installations of heat pumps and other energy-saving devices has also helped cap fossil fuel use, and if power generators can get through February without needing to crank coal and gas power stations then the region will likely be able to avert heavy fossil fuel power use until next winter.

Solar shines

Nuclear and hydro sites remain the primary sources of clean electricity in Europe, but the region’s solar facilities have been the strongest performers so far in 2024 in terms of year-on-year comparisons.

Solar generation topped 10.24TWh in January, compared to 7.7TWh a year ago.

That 33% gain in solar output compares to a 4% rise in nuclear generation and a roughly 20% rise in hydro generation from January 2023.

Much of solar’s increased production stems from expanded capacity, as utilities have rolled out cheap-to-install solar at a much faster pace than all other forms of energy over the past five years.

From 2018 through 2022, solar generation capacity in Europe expanded by 86% to 236.5 gigawatts (GW), and is expected to have notched up a new record in terms of installations in 2023.

That 2018-22 growth rate compares to 34.4% in wind, 8% in bioenergy, and 3.1% in hydro generation capacity.

Over the same period, Europe′s power firms cut coal-fired generation by more than 38GW, or by 15.6%, Ember data shows.

Given the combination of expanded clean generation capacity and decreased fossil capacity, Europe′s power system looks set to hit further clean power milestones in the months and years ahead, and should help realise longer-term emissions reduction targets.


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