Europe: Reliance on gas imports in spotlight as coal’s decline continues

Electricity produced from natural gas has matched power generated from coal in OECD countries. But Europe’s gas self-sufficiency dropped below 50% for the very first time as well.

Electricity production in OECD countries increased 0.4% to 10,964TWh in 2016, according to provisional figures put together by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

In the same period, electricity from fossil fuels fell for the fourth year in a row. Coal decreased by 7.1% and oil by 7%.

But electricity from natural gas posted growth of 5.8%, meaning that gross production matched and is now set to overtake electricity generated from coal power.

Marco Alverà, president of association group GasNaturally, said that gas’s growing share is “good news for the climate and for air quality as these are the most pressing issues these days”.

He added that the OECD countries “have to lead the way and push forward with the shift from coal to gas. In the UK and US, this has proven to be the largest driver of carbon emissions reduction in power generation since 2016.”

Nuclear’s share of the energy mix has stabilised over the last five years at around 18% but took a slight hit last year as many facilities underwent maintenance. Wind and solar grew 7.7% and 19.2% last year, respectively, meaning renewable energies now total 8.2% of OECD gross electricity production.

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