The European power generation mix is becoming increasingly low carbon with a growing share of renewables. Meanwhile, fossil fuel fired generation continues to decline. This promising picture for a decarbonised future emerges from the latest edition of EURELECTRIC’s annual publication on European power industry data “Power Statistics and Trends: The five dimensions of the Energy Union”, launched today during a high-level conference in Brussels. EURELECTRIC’s report includes the latest available industry figures for 2014, offering insight into how the power sector is responding to the energy transition and reflecting on how this translates into key policy actions in the context of EU’s 2030 Climate and Energy Framework.
The report shows a trend towards a more decarbonised power mix with a growing share of renewables. In 2014, 56% of electricity generation in the EU came from low carbon sources. The total power generation in the EU in 2014 was 3,025 TWh, with 27% generated from nuclear, 42% from fossil fuels and 28% from renewable energy sources. At the same time, final electricity consumption has been decreasing gradually since 2008.
“Sound statistics are mandatory in the EU institutions’ decision‐making process. Recent statistics show that electricity is on track to becoming a carbon neutral energy carrier. If we use it more widely to replace fossil fuels in transport, heating and cooling, this can lead to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and more energy efficiency,” said EURELECTRIC Secretary-General, Hans ten Berge.
The report also shows that renewables power generation increased by 38 TWh from 2013 to 2014, while fossil fuel fired generation decreased by 121 TWh over the same period. The increase in renewable generation capacity is the result of the widespread use of different types of support schemes. The report shows that the costs of renewable technologies have been falling, but wholesale prices are also decreasing, thus making it difficult to invest in any technology. Some thermal generation capacity has been decommissioned due to old age, unprofitability and the emission limits imposed by the European environment legislation. Remaining fossil fuel fired plants, including brand new ones, still face difficulties to remain profitable due to a decrease in running hours and low wholesale prices.
Despite the difficult economic situation, the report shows that power companies are still committed to investing in R&D, with the total R&D expenditure of 13 major European utilities reaching €1.4 billion in 2014. Accelerated innovation in power supply technologies and business models for energy efficiency has been estimated to be worth €70 billion to the EU economy by 2030.
Following the outcome of the COP21 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, and in view of the upcoming discussions on the various climate and energy legislative proposals foreseen for the coming months, EURELECTRIC has published a Toolkit that brings together and highlights the European power industry’ objectives in respect of the main elements that will be discussed in the context of the 2030 Climate and Energy Framework.
The toolkit includes EURELECTRIC’s key policy messages and recommendations on the policies, instruments and mechanisms to be adopted and implemented under the 2030 Framework. These focus on: strengthening the EU ETS and decarbonising the non-ETS sectors with electricity as key energy carrier; adopting a coherent approach in the targets and measures; promoting low carbon investments; improving energy efficiency; and developing an effective governance of both the EU 2030 targets and the Energy Union objectives.