Energy Transition

Europe's record fall in fossil fuels – plus other top energy stories

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A view shows wind turbines in front of a cow at Paradela's City Council, in Galicia, Spain September 27, 2022. REUTERS/Nacho Doce REFILE - QUALITY REPEAT

Europe has increased its use of renewable energy. Image: REUTERS/Nacho Doce

Roberto Bocca
Head of Centre for Energy and Materials; Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum
  • This round-up brings you key stories from the energy sector over recent weeks.
  • Top energy stories: Europe saw a 'record fall' in fossil fuels use in 2023; Saudi Arabia has abandoned a plan to produce more oil; Nuclear fusion world record set in the UK.
  • For more on the World Economic Forum’s work in the energy space, visit the Centre for Energy and Materials.

1. Europe sees 'record fall' in fossil fuels use in 2023 – analysis

Fossil fuel power generation in Europe declined by a record 19% in 2023, according to data from think-tank Ember, as the continent shifts towards renewables.

Gas-fired electricity production fell by 15% and coal electricity production dropped by 26%, while renewable energy combined rose to a record 44% share of power, with wind power production accounting for 18% and surpassing gas plants in Europe for the first time.

Europe is increasing its renewable electricity generation to reduce dependence on Russian fuels and achieve its net-zero emissions goal by 2050. This shift towards renewables and nuclear power resulted in a 19% reduction in carbon emissions from the power sector.

Ember's Dave Jones, Head of Data Insights said: "Europe is on a path to phasing out coal and we've now had four years in a row of falling gas generation, which we believe will continue."

Record falls in EU coal and gas electricity generation push sector emissions down 19%.
Fossil fuel power generation and carbon emissions have dropped in Europe. Image: Ember

2. Saudi Arabia drops plan to produce more oil

Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil producer, has made a major policy reversal by dropping plans to expand its daily oil production capacity by a million barrels, according to the Financial Times.

State-run company Saudi Aramco has been asked by the energy ministry to abandon its plan to increase production capacity from 12 million to 13 million barrels a day by 2027, but no explanation has been given.

Saudi Arabia has been cutting production over the past 18 months, in line with efforts by OPEC oil-producing countries to keep prices steady as demand slowed.

Currently, production is around 9 million barrels per day, down from an average of 10.2 million barrels per day between January and March 2022. That still amounts to around one in 10 of the 100 million barrels of oil consumed across the globe daily.

It comes after a forecast from the International Energy Agency, that the world would generate a “substantial surplus” of oil in 2024 as demand growth slows and production from non-OPEC countries, including the US, grows.

3. News in brief: More energy stories from around the world

A new record for the production of energy from nuclear fusion has been set in the UK at the JET laboratory. The lab's last-ever experiment produced 69 megajoules of energy over five seconds (19 kilowatts of power), according to the BBC.

Power consumption in the US is set to reach record highs in 2024 and 2025, Energy Information Administration data show, at 4,112 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) and 4,123 billion kWh, respectively.

This news comes as the US Department of Energy's Grid Deployment Office announced a Request for Proposals for the second round of its Transition Facilitation Program, which would see up to $1.2 billion deployed to speed the upgrade of power lines.

A sharp slowdown in growing demand for electric vehicles (EVs) in China has seen a huge drop in the prices of lithium and nickel, used in EV batteries. Nickel hit a 32-month low in November, while lithium reached its lowest point in almost two and a half years in early January.

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and the World Bank have announced a $50 million regional platform to support sustainable energy access investments. The programme is part of a $5 billion initiative aimed at providing clean energy access to 100 million people in Eastern and Southern Africa.

The European Parliament and national governments have agreed to boost domestic production of green technologies, including solar modules and wind turbines, through the 'Net-Zero Industry Act'.


What's the World Economic Forum doing about the transition to clean energy?

4. More on energy from Agenda

The world added 50% more renewable capacity in 2023 compared to the previous year. The COP28 climate talks called for a tripling of renewable energy capacity and doubling energy efficiency improvements by 2030. The World Economic Forum’s Better Community Engagement for a Just Energy Transition: A C-Suite Guide, highlights the need to ensure a people-positive approach to deploying renewable energy.

Davos 2024 set the agenda for accelerating the energy transition in a fair and cost-effective way. Key takeaways included how cutting energy consumption by 30% could save $2 trillion a year; tripling clean power will take government cooperation, blended finance and a smarter approach to affected communities; and why the transition to green energy must be fair, with capital directed where it’s most needed. The World Economic Forum's report Building Trust through an Equitable and Inclusive Energy Transition helps guide policy-makers and business leaders in the energy sector towards advancing a just, equitable and inclusive energy transition.

Incorporating sustainable materials into energy-transition technologies could help efforts to decarbonize. From wind turbines made of wood to batteries made of sand, several innovations using sustainable materials are in development. Next-generation technologies are vital for a successful energy transition, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2023 report Fostering Effective Energy Transition.

1. Europe sees 'record fall' in fossil fuels use in 2023 – analysis 2. Saudi Arabia drops plan to produce more oil3. News in brief: More energy stories from around the world4. More on energy from Agenda

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