Energy and Environment in 2023: A Year of Discoveries, Conflicts, and Consequences

From massive phosphate rock deposits in Norway to infinite clean hydrogen wells in France, here’s a round-up of the most-read stories of 2023.

As the impacts of global warming continue to escalate, the search for positive news in the energy and environment sector becomes increasingly crucial. In 2023, Euractiv readers found solace in stories of groundbreaking discoveries and potential game-changers. From the discovery of massive phosphate rock deposits in Norway to the revelation of infinite clean hydrogen wells in France, these stories provided a glimmer of hope amidst the climate crisis. However, the year was not without its conflicts, particularly the battle between France and Germany over the role of nuclear power in the European Union’s decarbonization objectives. This article will delve into the most-read stories of 2023, offering insights into these discoveries, conflicts, and their consequences.

Norway’s Phosphate Rock Discovery:

The most-read article of 2023 highlighted the discovery of a massive underground deposit of high-grade phosphate rock in Norway. This deposit, touted as the world’s largest, has the potential to satisfy global demand for fertilizers, solar panels, and electric car batteries for the next 50 years. The implications of this discovery are significant, as it ensures Europe’s fertilizer supply and provides essential materials for clean energy technologies. The article explores the details of the discovery and the potential impact on various industries.

France’s Infinite Clean Hydrogen Wells:

Another highly popular story focused on France’s natural hydrogen reserves, which were estimated to be around three million tonnes per year. These reserves occur naturally due to subterranean chemical processes and geothermal heat. The article discusses the excitement surrounding this discovery and the potential for clean hydrogen to become the cheapest and most climate-friendly gas in Europe. While the realization of this potential remains uncertain, the story offers hope in a field that is often dominated by challenges and setbacks.

France vs. Germany: The Nuclear Power Battle:

One of the most significant conflicts in 2023 revolved around the role of nuclear power in the European Union’s decarbonization efforts. France and Germany, often seen as the EU’s driving forces, found themselves at odds over this contentious issue. The article highlights France’s victory in securing recognition for low-carbon hydrogen produced from nuclear electricity in the EU’s new rulebook for green hydrogen. However, tensions escalated when Germany denied nuclear power a “strategic” technology label, sparking a heated debate. The article delves into the intricacies of this conflict and its implications for the EU’s energy policy.

Germany’s Energy Policy Challenges:

Germany, often hailed as a leader in renewable energy transition, faced its fair share of challenges in 2023. The country’s decision to shut down its last nuclear power plant in April drew criticism, and its energy-intensive industries faced an uncertain future. The article explores the repercussions of these decisions and the difficulties Germany encountered in achieving its ambitious Energiewende goals. Additionally, the government’s infighting over a ban on fossil fuel boilers brought the coalition to the brink of collapse, underscoring the complexities of energy policy.

Other Noteworthy Stories:

The article also touches on several other noteworthy stories from 2023. It mentions the disappointment surrounding the postponement of the review of REACH, the EU’s landmark chemical regulation. The implications of this delay and its consequences for environmental protection are examined. Furthermore, a special report on the melting glaciers in Europe captivated readers, shedding light on the multifaceted consequences of climate change on the Alpine regions. One of the most popular stories in this report explores how melting glaciers are redrawing the border between Switzerland and Italy.


The year 2023 brought a mix of hope, conflicts, and consequences in the energy and environment sector. The discovery of massive phosphate rock deposits in Norway and infinite clean hydrogen wells in France offered glimpses of a sustainable future. However, conflicts between France and Germany over nuclear power and Germany’s own challenges in energy policy highlighted the complexities and hurdles in achieving decarbonization goals. As the world grapples with the climate crisis, these stories serve as reminders of the urgent need for innovative solutions and international cooperation to address the challenges ahead.

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