Nuclear power plant in France
The false claims come amid a renewed debate about nuclear power in Australia. Image by EPA PHOTO

Claims European countries are ‘abandoning’ renewables don’t add up

Tom Wark June 24, 2024

Sweden, France, Finland, the UK and Germany have abandoned renewable energy.


False. All five countries are expanding their renewable energy output and consumption.

AAP FACTCHECK – Australian energy debates have sparked fresh claims that five European nations have slashed electricity prices by three-quarters by abandoning renewables for nuclear energy.

This is false. Sweden, France, Finland, the UK, and Germany have increased their generation and consumption of renewable energy, and plan to expand wind, solar, and hydropower output.

The claim originates in an X post, which reads: “Sweden, France, Finland, UK and Germany have reduced their electricity prices by 75% by abandoning renewables and switching to nuclear”.

Facebook posts, many mentioning Australian Energy Minister Chris Bowen referring to the prospect of nuclear power as a “joke”, repeat the claim.

An X post falsely claiming five nations have ditched renewables.
 The five countries have increased their use of renewables, not abandoned them. 

France, Sweden and the UK are exploring plans for new nuclear power projects, and Finland brought a new nuclear power plant online last year.

But the most recent data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) shows that none of the five nations have abandoned renewables.

Each has substantially increased the proportion of solar, wind, and hydroelectric electricity generation and consumption since 2000.

The IEA reports that in Sweden, renewables accounted for 68 per cent of electricity generation in 2022, up from 57 per cent in 2000.

France, which hosts the world’s second-largest nuclear power fleet, almost doubled the renewables share of electricity output to 24.5 per cent, over the same period.

Finland’s renewables share increased from a third to more than half, the UK’s surged from 3.0 per cent to 42 per cent and Germany’s jumped from 6.0 per cent to 43 per cent.

Made with Flourish

The IEA’s most recent public data also shows that the share of renewables in final energy consumption increased in all five nations between 2000 and 2020.

Sweden’s share rose from 40 per cent to 58 per cent, France’s lifted from 9.0 per cent to 16 per cent, Finland’s also increased from 32 per cent to 47 per cent, the UK’s share leapt from 1.0 per cent to 13 per cent and Germany’s jumped from 4.0 per cent to 18 per cent.

Made with Flourish

Sweden’s parliament passed laws in June 2023 allowing it to expand nuclear power generation to meet its emissions targets.

However, Swedish Climate and the Environment Minister Romina Pourmokhtari’s office says the claim that the Nordic country has abandoned renewables is “not correct.”

“We need to expand power production vigorously until 2045 – so we need much more wind power, much more solar energy and much more nuclear power,” the minister’s press secretary Niki Westerberg told AAP FactCheck.

The French government is legally obligated to lift the share of renewable energy in total consumption, although it is promoting a draft energy sovereignty bill lacking renewable targets.

The country’s parliament in February 2023 passed a law to help streamline the deployment of renewable energy projects.

Surging solar and wind farm output in mid-June pushed electricity prices into the negative in France, leading to some nuclear plants being powered down.

Finland’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment confirmed that the country has no plan to ditch renewables.

“In fact, the share of renewables in power generation have increased fast and the development will remain strong in the future,” the ministry’s deputy director-general of renewable energy Pekka Gronlund told AAP FactCheck.

Fog floats over a German village with wind turbine in the background.
 Just like the other four countries, Germany plans to continue to expand renewable energy. 

The UK is in an election campaign, but both major parties are committed to expanding renewable energy capacity.

In its election manifesto (Page 48), the incumbent Conservative party has pledged to treble offshore wind capacity in the next term of parliament, while Labour is promising to double onshore wind, triple solar power, and quadruple offshore wind capacity by 2030.

German Economic Affairs and Climate Action Minister Robert Habeck says his country is making significant progress toward expanding renewables.

“More than half of our electricity now comes from renewables thanks to the expansion of wind and solar power and the electricity grid. Momentum is picking up in all these areas and it’s important now to keep it up,” Dr Habeck said in a statement on April 26, 2024.

The Verdict

The claim that Sweden, France, Finland, the UK and Germany have abandoned renewable energy is false.

All five countries have increased their generation and consumption of renewable energy and plan to expand wind, solar, and hydropower output.

False – The claim is inaccurate.

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