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28 Jul 2021, 12:17
Julian Wettengel

EU power demand back to pre-pandemic levels, less coal, more renewables in the mix

Clean Energy Wire

The European Union’s electricity demand was back to pre-pandemic levels in the first half of 2021, but thanks to continued renewables growth fossil fuels did not reach levels of 2019, writes think tank Ember in an analysis. While Germany experienced the greatest absolute increase in coal-fired power generation (+20 terawatt hours) in H1/2021 compared to H1/2020, “even there, coal generation has fallen by 14 percent since H1/2019”, said Ember, adding that reduced exports also played a role. “Renewables deployment outside of Germany and rising carbon prices have reduced the demand for German coal power exports.” Power generation from fossil gas in Germany has increased 12 percent in the first half of this year compared to 2019. Ember writes that the most significant impact of weather conditions on renewable generation across the EU was seen in Germany. While 2020 was a record year for renewables, wind and solar generation in H1/2021 was 5 percent lower even than pre-pandemic levels due to poor wind conditions. The growth of solar could not compensate for notable reduction in wind generation, writes Ember.

The weak wind conditions seen in Germany in 2021 pushed up fossil fuel use (primary energy consumption) especially in the first quarter, with the country using 11 percent more natural gas, 9 percent more hard coal and 26 percent more lignite than in the same period the previous year. Overall, the renewables share in public power supply was at 42.7 percent, compared to 55.6 percent in Q1 of 2020.

Graph shows EU power demand in H1/2021, H1/2020 and H1/2019. Source: Ember.
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