Renewables overtake coal-fired power generation for first time

Riffgat offshore wind park located in the southern North Sea. (Image by Impériale | Wikimedia Commons)

The International Energy Agency (IEA) report on key electricity trends in the world’s developed economies, released last week, shows renewable energy overtaking coal as a source of electricity generation for the first time in 2019.

Natural gas took the top spot from coal in 2018 and last year coal-fired power production fell by the most on record – in both absolute and relative terms.

Coal use was 13.4% lower than in 2018 at 2,328 Twh and made up just over 22% of the total electricity mix. Coal use in Europe fell by 21.7%, the sixth year in a row of shrinking output. The IEA says in the Americas, coal-fired power plants produced 14.% less electricity year-on-year.

In 2019, non-combustible renewable production accounted for just under 26% of total OECD electricity production at 2,735 Twh.

Renewables overtake coal-fired power generation for first time

Overall, fossil fuels dropped by 245 TWh, while renewables production rose by 119 TWh from 2018 to 2019. The largest increase for renewable technologies was wind, up by 12.8%, followed by solar, up 14.1%. Nuclear power generation grew slightly.

At 3,061 Twh during the year, natural gas remains the leading source of electricity in the 35 countries covered by the OECD, and last year electricity produced from natural gas increased by 4.8% and was responsible for 29.0% of the total.

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