CO2 Emissions Fell by 12%, as Wind & Solar Took the Lead in Europe

A new report has revealed that CO2 emissions fell by 12 percent across Europe in 2019, as wind and solar provided more electricity than coal

A new report, presenting the latest insights on Europe’s electricity transition has revealed that CO2 emissions fell by 12 percent across Europe in 2019, as wind and solar energy sources provided more electricity than coal for the very first time.

wind solar coal Europe

The report, “The European Power Sector in 2019” published recently by the climate think-tank Sandbag in partnership with the German think-tank, Agora Energiewende, has revealed that in 2019, wind and solar provided 18 percent (569 TWh) of EU electricity, whilst coal fell to just 15 percent (469 TWh). Further adding that just five years ago, the EU had generated twice as much from coal as it did from wind and solar.

Dave Jones, Electricity Analyst at Sandbag said that “Europe is leading the world on rapidly replacing coal generation with wind and solar, and as a result, power sector CO2 emissions have never fallen so quickly. 30 percent of all global fossil emissions still come from coal generation – so it’s critical that there is an urgent focus to transition away from coal in all countries. 

Europe has become a test-bed for replacing coal with wind & solar power, and the fast results should give reassurance to other countries that they can rapidly phase out coal too.”

Key Highlights from the report:

I. Electricity Generation from Coal Collapsed:

  • In just one year, coal generation fell 24 percent in the European Union and is now less than half the level in 2007. Which in fact was directly responsible for the 12 percent fall in European power sector CO2 emissions in 2019 alone – the biggest fall since at least 1990.
  • Many countries in western Europe saw significantly larger year-on-year falls while eastern Europe lagged behind. Half of the coal was replaced by wind & solar, and a half was replaced with gas. Wind and solar generation rose because of new capacity installations, and gas generation rose as higher CO2 prices and low gas prices boosted the competitiveness of gas power plants in relation to coal generation.

II. The Countries with the Biggest Increase in Wind & Solar saw the Biggest Falls in Coal:

  • From 2010 to 2019, coal’s share of the electricity mix fell by 10 percentage points, while wind and solar combined rose by 13 percentage points.

III. Europe’s Coal to Clean Transition looks set to Accelerate:

wind solar installation

  • In 2019, wind capacity is estimated to have expanded by around 14 GW, the second-highest amount on record, and solar by around 17 GW, double last year’s rate.
  • Meanwhile, the economics continued to shift in favour of renewables over fossil: 2019 saw record-low auction prices for offshore wind (UK) and solar (Portugal) – both below wholesale prices. Looking ahead, the wind and solar trade associations in Europe predict that the rate of new installations will accelerate. 

IV. In 2019, Two more European Countries committed to Phase-Out Coal:

  • Greece and Hungary will cease generating electricity from coal by 2028 and 2030 respectively, bringing the total countries coal-free by 2030 to 20 out of 28 countries. 2019 also saw the formation of Czechia’s Coal Commission, tasked with setting an end-date for coal.


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