The European Commission’s latest reports show a record drop in CO2 emissions in power production and, at the same time, record LNG imports.
The electricity market report showed how electricity generation from solid fuels in the EU fell by 26 per cent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2019, with a marked shift to renewables and a modest increase for gas. These changes mean that the share of renewable energy in the EU power mix reached 35 per cent, the highest ever for a fourth-quarter yet.
Looking at the whole of 2019, the EU electricity sector decreased its greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 12 per cent thanks to higher renewables generation and coal-to-gas switching, bringing about a substantial contribution to Europe’s decarbonisation efforts.
In Central and Eastern Europe, thanks to good availability, nuclear generation increased its share of the mix to 37 per cent, up from 35 per cent a year before. Furthermore, the reduced competitiveness of coal generation, due to still relatively high CO2 prices, caused the combined share of lignite and coal to fall from 31 per cent to 26 per cent year-on-year, while gas managed to increase its share only slightly, as the gap left by coal was mostly filled with increased nuclear and hydro generation. Renewable energy sources (wind, solar, hydro and biomass) accounted for 19 per cent of the total electricity production in the reference quarter, on the back of improved hydro generation in Slovakia and Slovenia.
Particularly, in Poland, the combined share coal and lignite in its mix went down measurably to 71 per cent, while renewables increased their share from 15 per cent to 17 per cent year-on-year thanks to higher wind generation. Gas increased its share in the mix from 7 per cent to 11 per cent year-on-year, demonstrating some coal-to-gas switching potential in the country.
Additionally, the gas market report underlined how net gas imports increased by 8 per cent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2019, but the overall gas import bill fell significantly (29 per cent) because prices were down by 36 per cent with Russian pipeline supplies covering 39 per cent of extra-EU net gas imports.
For the first time, LNG became the second source of gas to the EU, covering 28 per cent of the total imports and surpassing the share of Norway. In December 2019, after several rounds of negotiations, the EU, Ukraine and Russia managed to reach an agreement on the future of gas imports of Russian origin through Ukraine, and later in that month Ukraine and Russia concluded a package of agreements, amongst others on transit volumes through Ukraine for 2020-2024.