Record decline in EU power plant emissions in 2019

6 February 2020

In 2019, the EU electricity sector emitted 12 % less CO2 than in the previous year. At the same time, the share of renewables in electricity production rose EU-wide to 35 %, a new record. These are the main findings in a study of current electricity data carried out by Agora Energiewende and UK based climate think-tank Sandbag.

Greenhouse gas emissions from EU power plants declined more sharply in 2019 than in any year since at least 1990. All in all, emissions fell by 120 million tonnes, caused by a collapse in generation from hard coal- and lignite-fired power plants which decreased 24 % across the EU. To large extent, this collapse was triggered by an increase in the price of CO2 emissions to around 25 euros per tonne, making carbon-intensive coal electricity more expensive than electricity from natural gas, nuclear power and renewable energy. Half of the electricity that would have otherwise been produced from coal came from gas-fired power plants and renewables instead.

The share of green energy in electricity generation grew across the EU to 34.6 %, 1.8 percentage points higher than in 2018. For the first time, wind and solar power plants thus delivered more electricity than coal-fired power plants. Agora Energiewende and the Sandbag have published these figures in their co-authored report The European Power Sector in 2019.

All EU countries with coal power plants recorded a drop in their share of coal electricity. The total volume sank by 24 % or around 150 TWh.

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