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Europe’s use of renewables and biofuels climbed in 2020

Oil and natural gas remained the most-used fuels in the European Union, but coal plummeted for its fifth year in a row.

(CN) — New data from the European Union indicates that renewable energy sources rose in use as a percentage of energy demand across the continent in 2020.

Eurostat, an EU commission responsible for issuing statistics and indicators for the 27-nation organization, issued a release Tuesday detailing the share of the union’s gross available energy — a measurement of total energy demand that counts energy production, imports, recovered and recycled products and excludes exports.

At 34.5% of the share of energy, oil (excluding biofuels) topped the chart, followed by natural gas at 23.7%. This was a 2.4% decrease for natural gas and a 12.61% decrease for oil compared to 2019.

These year-over-year drops pale in comparison to longer-term trends: comparing 2020’s oil use to 2015’s, its share has dropped 40%, Eurostat reports.

On the other hand, renewables and biofuels shot up from 2019’s share, 15.45%, to 16.8% of the region’s total available energy, which itself dropped to the lowest total since at least 1994.

The European Union measures energy in kilotonnes of oil equivalent, a unit indicating how much energy would be released by burning 1,000 metric tons of crude oil. In 2020, the European Union’s gross available energy dropped to the equivalent of 1,379,751 kilotonnes of oil, down 8% from 2019’s more than 1.5 million kilotonnes of oil equivalent.

Notably, coal’s share of gross available energy dropped for its fifth consecutive year, down 18.4% from its 2019 availability. Additionally, nuclear power’s share fell 10.4% since 2019 and reached its lowest share since 1990.

The commission noted that the Covid-19 pandemic and associated restrictions on travel and gatherings drove some of these impacts.

“In terms of consumption, the impact of Covid-19-related restrictions in 2020 was more substantial on the use of petroleum products (-10.3%) than on natural gas (-2.6%) and electricity (-3.8%),” reads the report. “Mobility restrictions related to the pandemic affected some petroleum products more than other fuels. Kerosene-type jet fuel plummeted (-48.1%), while motor gasoline (-13.9%) saw a smaller decrease.”

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