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
skip to the data

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.

Read about what happened: Last yearThis month ~ What needs to happen next ~ Or skip to the data

 

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.

Momentum is building on the electricity transition! New wind and solar capacity is being built all the time, with the result that windy and sunny months mean a higher proportion of generation comes from renewable sources than ever before. These range from Spain and the Netherlands at almost 40%, all the way down to Bosnia and Herzegovina at only 2%.

6 countries broke their wind and solar records this May!

Italy and Serbia both generated a record minimum share from coal this month, at 3% and 52% respectively. 52% is still a lot of coal generation, but Serbia's record follows the cancellation of the planned Kolubara B coal plant, a significant step towards a cleaner future.

Ireland's electricity price continues to climb, up to € 96 from € 84 the month before. This is a new maximum since our data starts in January 2016, beating the previous record of € 81 set by Hungary in January 2017. For a more detailed look at price history scroll down to the data section at the bottom of the page.

Coal heavy Poland continues to have the most carbon intensive electricity system, with Cyprus and Estonia not far behind due to their use of oil.

Dig into the data

Interested in a specific country, or want to explore nuclear or hydro power instead? Download the data, or scroll down to explore all generation sources by country.
download

Data Sources

For 2000 to 2020 yearly electricity generation data: Ember’s 2020 Power Sector Review

For 2018 to 2020 monthly electricity generation data: Ember’s monthly data release

Main data source: ENTSO-E transparency platform

 

 

Commentary

Launching Sandbag’s report on barriers to industrial decarbonisation

Launching Sandbag’s report on barriers to industrial decarbonisation