Editorial

Europe power supply: 2019 in review

Gas booms at coal’s expense as wind and solar tops 20% of supply

Using data from our Power Data Pack, the insight reviews the development of power supply in Europe’s largest electricity markets – Germany, France, Italy, Iberia (Spain & Portugal) and the UK – comparing volumes and flows from 2018 & 2019. Unless otherwise stated, all quoted changes are expressed on a year-on-year basis.

The central theme across the major markets was the prevalence of fuel-switching, driven by favourable gas economics, higher European emission allowance costs and pressure from climate policy. Total coal (hard coal and lignite) generation in 2019 was down 36% whilst gas was up 12%.

Supply from wind and solar increased by 13% and 10% respectively, and when combined accounted for just over a fifth of total supply (20%). With continued growth in capacity, Europe’s 5 largest markets produced more power from wind than coal for the first time.

Power demand was down 1.6% – with notable declines in Spain and Germany – and mild weather reduced the requirement for carbon-intensive forms of power generation in the supply mix. After gaining momentum at the end of 2018, the European emission allowance price remained high and fairly stable throughout 2019.

Despite a 5% increase in Spain, nuclear power was down 3.5% on the whole. UK nuclear struggled the most, down 9 TWh (-14%) as long-term outages persisted.

A challenging year for hydro on the Iberian peninsular dragged total production from the source across all markets down by (-8%), although heavy rainfall in November & December gave reserves a late boost. Production in Germany and Italy was stronger throughout the year, increasing by 16% & 1.5% on 2018 respectively.

The release of draft 10-year National Energy & Climate Plans (NECPs) provided opportunity to digest and scrutinise the ambitions, policies and targets of individual EU member states.

Complete the form to get access to the insight brochure which includes:

  • List of figures
  • Sample chart
  • Purchasing information

The full insight is available as part of Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables’ Europe Power & Renewables Service.