LONDON (Reuters) - Greenhouse gas emissions from the European Union’s electricity sector fell 12% last year, the sharpest drop since at least 1990, due to reduced coal-fired generation, a study has found.
Emissions fell by 120 million tonnes in 2019, largely due to a sharp decrease in generation from hard coal and lignite-fired power plants which fell by 24% across the EU, German policy institute Agora Energiewende and climate think-tank Sandbag said in a report released on Wednesday.
“To a large extent, this collapse was triggered by an increase in the price of CO2 emissions (permits) to around 25 euros per tonne, making carbon-intensive coal electricity more expensive than electricity from natural gas, nuclear power and renewable energy,” the report said.
The downward trend in coal generation is forecast to continue this year, with a total of 21 EU member states and Britain having announced phase out plans for coal.
At the same time, the price of renewable energy continues to fall and carbon permit prices should remain quite high.
The share of renewable energy in electricity generation rose to 34.6% in the EU, up 1.8 percentage points from 2018.
For the first time, wind and solar power plants delivered more electricity than coal-fired power plants across the EU.
“Europe is leading the world in rapidly replacing coal generation with wind and solar,” Dave Jones, European power analyst at Sandbag, said.
“As a result, CO2 emissions from the electricity sector in the past year have fallen faster than ever.”
Reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by Alexander Smith