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Spain, Sweden and Belgium: The European countries setting new wind and solar records

Most of Portugal's electricity came from solar and wind last month, with fossil generation limited to 24%.
Most of Portugal's electricity came from solar and wind last month, with fossil generation limited to 24%. Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Lottie Limb
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Greater solar capacity got Portugal over the halfway mark, while Spain, Finland and Belgium are also breaking energy records.

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Solar and wind produced more than half of Portugal’s electricity for the first time last month, according to new data from clean energy think tank Ember.

April saw the renewables reach 51 per cent of electricity production - beating the previous monthly record of 49 per cent in December 2021.

Strong solar deployment, electricity imports from Spain and lower demand kept energy generated by fossil fuels to just 24 per cent - despite a drought-driven dip in hydropower.

“As Europe emerges from a crisis winter, strong growth of wind and solar are paying dividends,” says Ember analyst Nicolas Fulghum. "This spring, renewables are already lessening the impact of droughts and high electricity prices across the EU, as well as lowering emissions.

“The lightning pace of deployment, especially of solar, promises many more records to come this summer.”

Here’s how Portugal achieved the sparky feat, and where else is smashing records in Europe.

New solar power helped push Portugal to a record high

AP Photo/Armando Franca
Portugal is one of the sunniest countries in Europe, and has been maximising its solar potential in recent months and years.AP Photo/Armando Franca

Sunny Portugal has been working on its solar infrastructure over the last several months and is now reaping the rewards.

Last year, the country installed 0.9 GW of solar photovoltaics, increasing its solar capacity by more than 50 per cent to 2.5 GW - enough to power around 1 million homes. 

This helped push solar generation to an all-time high of 360 GWh in April, a significant gain on the previous record of 300 GWh in July and August of 2022.

“Portugal is entering the next stage of its energy transition,” says Ember analyst Matt Ewen.

Wind power and interconnection made it possible for Portugal to phase out coal in 2021; solar is now pushing gas off the grid.”

Ember
Wind and solar produced more than half of Portugal's electricity for the first time last month.Ember

Solar has been doing the heavy lifting compared to other Portuguese renewables in recent months. The 50 per cent threshold was crossed despite relatively modest wind generation.

Meanwhile, droughts throughout last year which have continued into spring put stress on many Mediterranean countries.

Portugal was subsequently affected by low output from hydropower stations, with droughts also impacting energy generation in Spain and Italy.

Which other European countries are breaking renewable records?

Wind and solar have been reaching new heights in many EU countries this spring.

Neighbouring Spain also saw all-time records of solar generation in April (4.2 TWh, 22 per cent of electricity generation), with even higher records expected in the summer months when energy from solar is typically at its peak.

Wind and solar combined were also near record high levels in Spain, comprising 46 per cent of electricity produced. Taking imports into account, the two countries of the Iberian Peninsula together met 49 per cent of their electricity demand with these two renewables in April.

Ember
Wind and solar hit highs in many EU countries as spring began.Ember

Strong growth and consistent performance of solar and wind led to a number of other records across EU countries this spring too, Ember has revealed.

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Sweden hit an all-time high in February of this year with more than a quarter (27 per cent) of electricity coming from wind and solar.

Finland saw wind and solar reach a record 29 per cent of generation in April.

Belgium also recorded an all-time high for wind and solar last month; the clean energy sources hit 2 TWh and made up 29 per cent of electricity generation in the country.

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