Steep reduction in power generation from coal

20 June 2023

The latest Electricity Statistics Monthly report from the International Energy Agency includes March 2023 data and shows that for total OECD members total net electricity production was 887.8 TWh in March 2023. This represents a fall of 1.5% compared to March 2022, and a 4.0% decrease comparing the first quarter of 2023 to the same period in 2022.

The fall in the first quarter was driven by lower electricity production from fossil fuel sources (-8.1% y-t-d) and nuclear (-3.1% y-t-d). Electricity from coal-fired plants showed a strong reduction (-17.1% y-t-d), reaching a record low share of 15.9% of electricity mix in March 2023, going beyond the levels observed at the start of the lockdowns in April 2020.

Renewable electricity production increased by 1.9% in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022, with a large increase in generation from solar energy (+11.1% y-t-d), followed by wind energy (+4.2% y-t-d). These two sources combined represented more than a quarter of the electricity mix in March 2023 for all OECD membership.

Belgium’s figures are notable in showing that total net electricity production was down by 7.7% y-t-d at 7.3 TWh in March 2023 compared to the first quarter of 2022, despite an increase in fossil fuel and renewables power production, while production from nuclear declined 22.9% y-t-d following the shutdown of a nuclear reactor unit at the Tihange power plant at the end of January this year. This reduction was only partially mitigated by the increase observed in production from fossil fuels (6.0% y-t-d) and renewables (6.6% y-t-d). Renewable sources reached a record-high share of 33.5% in the country’s electricity mix in March 2023, mainly driven by wind (15.7% y-t-d). 

Image: OECD electricity production by fuel type year-to-date comparison (Source: IEA)

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