The EU increased its solar power generation by 24% in 2022 in line with the global average, whereas EU wind power generation grew 9% year-on-year, just over half the average global growth of 17%, according to a new report from think tank Ember on 12 April.

The EU is still ahead of the curve on renewable power overall, generating 22% of electricity from wind and solar in 2022, compared with 12% worldwide, finds Ember’s fourth annual Global Electricity Review. It analyses electricity data from 78 countries, which together represent 93% of global electricity demand.

Ember highlights that the 12% electricity generated from wind and solar in 2022 is a global record, up from 10% in 2021 and 5% in 2015. More than 60 countries now generate more than 10% of their electricity from wind and solar. Ember expects the global power sector’s emissions to have peaked last year (when they grew by 1.3% to reach an all-time high).

Solar was the fastest-growing source of electricity globally for the eighteenth consecutive year, rising by 24% in 2022 and adding enough electricity to power South Africa. Wind generation increased by 17%, enough to power nearly all of the UK.

Unlike for solar, growth in EU wind power has been impeded by problems rolling out onshore wind. Ember points out that Germany installed 1.4GW of capacity between 2017 and 2021, only around a third of the 4.3GW four years prior. “Barriers preventing the rapid deployment of onshore wind power must be removed,” said Sarah Brown, Ember’s Europe programme lead, in a press statement. “Europe had an extremely challenging year in 2022 but should now seize the opportunity to double-down on renewables deployment and remain at the forefront of the global transition to a clean and prosperous economy.”

“Europe must lead by example,” she added. “It has a crucial role to play in supporting emerging economies to build clean power fast enough to outpace rapid demand growth, thus ensuring power sector emissions have peaked.”

The growth in wind and solar generation in 2022 met 80% of the rise in global electricity demand, but coal power remained the single largest source of electricity worldwide, producing 36% of global electricity.