Gas drives fossil fuel comeback in Europe

Gas drives fossil fuel comeback in Europe

18 May 2021

Fossil fuel-fired electricity in Europe has returned to pre-COVID levels, driven by an increase in gas generation, says a report.

The analysis by energy think tank Ember shows that following record lows in fossil fuel generation a year ago as a result of the COVID lockdowns, polluting fuels bounced back higher in April 2021 than 2019 levels.

Despite resilient growth in wind and solar power, fossil gas made a strong recovery and was up 15% last month compared to the same period in 2019, while coal remained 12% lower, as a number of countries continue to reduce their reliance on the fuel in a bid to reduce emissions.

Ember’s report compared EU-27 electricity generation in April 2019, April 2020 and April 2021 to understand the effect of the pandemic on the power sector, one year on from the height of Europe’s lockdown.

It shows that in April 2020, electricity demand in the bloc’s member states hit a low of 182 terawatt-hours (TWh), 12% lower than April 2019 (-25 TWh).

Generation from wind and solar increased from April 2019 to April 2020 due to 3 TWh more production from solar. In April last year, wind and solar made up 23% of EU-27 electricity production, up from 19% in April 2019.

Despite resilient growth in wind and solar power, fossil gas made a strong recovery and was up 15% last month compared to the same period in 2019.

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