Electricity supply in EU grows 4.2% in 2021

EU Electricity consumption 2021 estimates

Electricity supply in the European Union rose by 4.2 percent in 2021 compared to 2020, with data indicating a return to fossil fuels as the leading source, after the renewable category surpassed fossil fuels for electricity generation in 2020.

On the renewables side, 2021 data show the biggest increases in electricity produced from solar energy (+13 percent), followed by solid biofuels (+9.6 percent). Electricity generation from hydro and wind decreased 1.2 percent and 3.0 percent, respectively, due to unfavourable weather conditions, report from European Commission said.

Electricity generation from certain solid fossil fuels increased substantially in 2021: other bituminous coal (+25.6 percent) and lignite (+16.2 percent).

The output of nuclear power plants increased by 7 percent.

The biggest contributors to the EU electricity generation system in 2021 were nuclear with 731 terawatt-hours (TWh), natural gas (550 TWh), wind (386 TWh), hydro (370 TWh), lignite (227 TWh), other bituminous coal (193 TWh), and solar (163 TWh).

In 2021, coal consumption (brown coal and hard coal) increased but remained below 2019 levels and at the second-lowest point since 1990, indicating a decline following the effects of the pandemic combined with those of coal exit policies.

Compared with 2020, there was increase of 14.7 percent for hard coal and 12.8 percent for brown coal, but compared with 2019, consumption dropped by 7.2 percent and 9.5 percent, respectively.

Consumption of natural gas was the highest recorded in the past ten years in the EU, reaching 15.8 million terajoules (TJ), indicating a 3.9 percent increase compared with 2020.

Natural gas net imports made up 86.4 percent of inland consumption in the EU in 2021, showing a 4.0 percent increase compared with 2020. In 2021, only 1.7 million TJ of natural gas came from domestic production, showing an 8.7 percent drop compared with the previous year.