The share of renewable energy sources in electricity consumption in France exceeded 30% for the first time.

This increase in the share of renewable sources in electricity consumption is a logical consequence of the increase in the number of wind turbines and solar panels in France, with differences depending on the region.

A wind turbine near Chartres in Eure-et-Loir on March 14, 2024. (GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP)

Last year, a symbolic milestone was reached in France: the share of renewable energies exceeded 30% of total electricity consumption for the first time. This is an increase of six points from the previous year. The figure comes from the 2023 panorama published on Thursday 29 March by players in the energy sector, including Enedis and RTE. This result is, among other things, a logical consequence of the increase in the number of wind turbines and solar panels in the region. Renewable energy production thus exceeded 135 terawatt-hours, a unit of measurement for energy companies, an increase of 23% compared to 2022.

And if hydraulic power, that is, dams, remains the first renewable energy in France, solar and especially wind power have seen a spectacular increase. Offshore wind energy even brings low costs for the first time thanks to the parks installed off the coast of Saint-Brieuc and F├ęcamp. All this needs to be qualified, however, as the volumes still remain rather modest: around 50 terawatts/hour for wind and 21 for solar. At the same time, nuclear power alone accounted for 320 terawatts/hour, or almost two-thirds of France’s total electricity production, while the power plant fleet was not operating at full capacity due to work on several reactors.

Behind Germany, Spain or Portugal

In France, there are significant differences between regions when it comes to renewable energy sources. Hauts-de-France seems to be France’s champions in offshore wind power, while New Aquitaine, on the other hand, excels in solar power. This of course depends on weather factors as well as the volume of installed wind turbines or photovoltaic panels. In Nouvelle-Aquitaine, solar power generation made it possible to cover more than 13% of regional electricity consumption last year, eleven times more than in Normandy or Hauts.-de-France and four times more than in the Grand Est.

According to the overview, France has reached its sub-targets for electricity generation capacity based on renewable energy at 93%. In other words, France has a delay estimated at half a year for solar and almost a year and a half for offshore wind. Due to the historical presence of nuclear power in our energy mix, France seems to be lagging behind the European average, where the share of renewables already exceeds 40% of total electricity production. Germany and Spain even crossed the 50% mark in 2023, while Portugal reached 61%.

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