In 2021, lignite-based electricity production continued to decrease in Hungary, while the share of solar power plants in total production reached 11.1 per cent, the highest rate in the whole European Union, according to the recently published electricity market monitoring report of the Hungarian Energy and Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (HEA).
In 2021, COVID restrictions had less impact on electricity demand, thus the aggregate electricity consumption of the 27 EU Member states increased by 4.3 per cent compared to the previous year. In Hungary, electricity demand rose by 6 per cent.
Electricity production in the EU-27 also increased at a similar rate, the most striking change was seen in the composition of production. The report highlights that in the EU, record-high gas prices changed the trend of fuel switching, from coal to natural gas. As a result, coal- and lignite-based production increased from 12.3 per cent to 14.2 per cent, exceeding the 13.9 per cent contribution of gas-fired power plants. All in all, coal-based power production increased by about 20 per cent in the EU, while the production of gas-fired power plants was 6.3 per cent lower compared to the previous year.
As the trend of coal phase-out reversed, the role of fossil fuels in electricity production strengthened, while the role of carbon-neutral technologies decreased from 62.9 per cent to 62.2 per cent. Weather-dependent renewables decreased from 33.4 per cent to 33.1 per cent. This was exacerbated by unfavourable weather conditions, despite the rising installed capacity, the weather-dependent renewable-based production increased only marginally, by 4.2 Terawatt hour (TWh). However, the expansion of wind and solar capacities continued in 2021, with more than 20 gigawatts (GW) added in the EU-27 countries.
In Hungary, the share of solar power plants in total electricity production increased to 11.1 per cent, the highest among the EU-27 countries, which put Hungary ahead of Mediterranean countries such as Spain or Greece.
As a comparison, the production of solar power plants never exceeded lignite-based electricity production in 2019. However, in 2021, from March to October, PV-based electricity production exceeded lignite-based power generation every month, and also on an annual basis.
In 2021, the production of Hungary’s lignite-fired Mátra Power Plant continued to decrease, but it was still the second-largest producer on the domestic market. At the same time, the EU-wide trend of increased coal-based power generation was not perceptible in Hungarian production.