European Electricity Generation
Every month we update the story of electricity generation in Europe with the latest data from ENTSO-E and national TSOs. Scroll down to read through our analysis or
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Last updated on: 7 / 6 / 2021
The generation of electricity provides power to European homes, businesses and industry – but it also produces greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to global warming. The electricity transition is the pathway from carbon intensive to clean power, maintaining the provision of cheap and reliable electricity while removing the fossil fuel based generation that causes emissions. Europe is leading the way, but there is still too much coal and fossil gas on the grid, and certain countries have further to go than others.
The EU-27 as a whole has made good progress, generating more electricity from renewable than fossil fuels for the first time in 2020.
Renewable energy includes hydropower and bioenergy, but wind and solar are the least risky for the climate and should be the focus of efforts to increase renewable generation. You can toggle which generation source you want to see by clicking on the graph’s legend, and use the drop-down menu to view individual countries:
Meanwhile coal is in structural decline, compounded last year by the impact of Covid-19. While the early months of 2021 saw some recovery in coal generation, increasing wind and solar are expected to continue to take over. Last month coal made up only 11.8% of generation, down from 18.7% in the same month in 2018.
On the country level the story is not so simple. More wind and solar capacity is needed to replace coal and gas. Some countries have further to go than others.
Select “Zoom In” below to view individual countries in more detail:
So far this year the EU power sector has released 226 Million tonnes of CO2 by burning fossil fuels. Most of these emissions come from large countries that still generate a lot of electricity from coal. However, gas is also a fossil fuel. Countries like the UK that have almost completely phased out coal but still burn gas are continue to be major emitters.
Use the drop-down menu on the chart below to see how each country’s level of fossil fuel generation impacts their CO2 emissions:
In the last 12 months, most countries generated a higher proportion of their electricity mix from wind and solar than they did in 2018. The biggest improvement is in Estonia, where wind and solar have gained 12 points. Wind and solar are also rapidly replacing fossil fuels in Spain, Greece, and Ireland.
In May electricity consumption in the EU-27 was 5TWh lower than the same month in 2019, although 15TWh higher than May 2020, when most of Europe was locked down. Wind and solar each produced 5TWh more electricity than May 2019 or 2020. Meanwhile the carbon price has stayed high, above 50 Euros for most of the month. As a result fossil fuel generation was pushed out – gas and coal each produced 7.5TWh less than the same month in 2019. Gas dropped to the lowest level since April 2018, making up only 14% of production. Nuclear plant outages continue in France, with generation lower than the same month in 2019 by around 4TWh, as it has been since the beginning of the year.
While month to month the share of wind and solar is highly dependent on the weather, there is also structural growth. Good progress has been made in the last 3 years, with the EU-27 average share of wind and solar over the last 12 months higher than the annual average in 2018 by 4 points.
However some countries are still behind the EU average from 2018. Countries like Poland, Bulgaria and Czechia will need to catch up quickly if the EU is going to meet its climate targets.