Last Month Europe Got Less Than 25 Percent of Its Power from Coal and Gas

A solar thermal plant in Seville, Spain.

A solar thermal plant in Seville, Spain. Beyond Zero Emissions via Flickr

Together, coal and gas generated only 21 percent of electricity in the EU last month, a new low that reflects the rapid adoption of renewable power.

The buildout of wind and solar in Europe is continuing apace, while hydropower is recovering from an extended drought. Together, these sources produced 49 percent of electricity in the bloc in April, according to data from the think tank Ember. “The records set in April are the latest evidence of a long-term trend of increasing clean generation and falling emissions in the EU,” analysts wrote.

EU electricity generation by source.

EU electricity generation by source. Ember

The shift to clean power risks stalling, however, if European nations do not update power grids to handle more renewable electricity. That means building transmission lines to link wind and solar farms to distant cities. “We can’t afford to overlook grids,” said Ember analyst Elisabeth Cremona. “Making sure solar and wind can actually connect to the system is as critical as the panels and turbines themselves.”

In the EU, renewables are increasingly displacing fossil fuels, but beyond Europe renewables and fossil fuels are both growing to keep up with rising demand. Renewables are growing faster, but coal and gas power still reached a record high worldwide last year.


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