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Energy Shift

Mapped: Europe’s Biggest Sources of Electricity by Country

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Map of Europe with countries colored according to their biggest sources of electricity generation

Mapped: Europe’s Biggest Sources of Electricity by Country

Energy and electricity supply have become vital for nearly every European nation over the past year, as the region shifts away from its dependence on Russian fuel imports.

While many countries have been making progress in their energy transition away from fossil fuels, nearly half of European countries are still dependent on them as their primary source of electricity generation.

This graphic maps out European countries by their top source of electricity generation using data from Electricity Maps and the IEA, along with a breakdown of the EU’s overall electricity generation by source in 2021.

Europe’s Electricity Generation by Energy Source

Europe has been steadily transitioning towards renewable sources of energy for their electricity generation, making considerable progress over the last decade.

In 2011, fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal) made up 49% of the EU’s electricity production while renewable energy sources only made up 18%. A decade later, renewable energy sources are coming close to equaling fossil fuels, with renewables making up 32% of the EU’s electricity generation compared to fossil fuels’ 36% in 2021.

SourceEU Electricity Generation Share (2011)EU Electricity Generation Share (2021)
Nuclear29%25%
Coal25%14%
Natural Gas19%20%
Hydropower10%13%
Wind6%13%
Oil5%2%
Solar2%6%
Biofuel4%5%
Othern/a2%

The expansion of wind and solar generation have been the primary drivers in this shift towards renewables, going from only generating 8% of the EU’s electricity in 2011 all the way to 19% in 2021. While this might still seem small, the EU’s share of wind and solar electricity generation is tied for first alongside Oceania when compared to other regions around the world.

While hydropower doesn’t make up as big of a share as other sources, it’s the most common primary source of electricity generation in Europe, playing an important role in providing renewable energy.

Nuclear energy is the largest single source of electricity generation in the EU and across Europe despite its decline over the past couple of decades. Back in 2001, nuclear energy made up one-third (33%) of the EU’s electricity generation, and in the following 20 years fell down to 25%.

The Primary Electricity Sources of Europe’s Major Nations

When looking at individual nations, the majority of Europe’s largest countries have fossil fuels as their largest primary single source of electricity.

Germany remains heavily reliant on coal power, which from 2017 to 2021 generated 31% of the nation’s electricity. Despite the dependence on the carbon intensive fossil fuel, wind and solar energy generation together made up more of Germany’s electricity generation at 33% (23% for wind and 10% for solar).

France is Europe’s largest economy that primarily relies on nuclear power, with nuclear power making up more than half of the country’s electricity production.

Italy, the UK, and the Netherlands are all primarily natural gas powered when it comes to their electricity generation from 2017 to 2021. While Italy is the most reliant of the three at 42% of electricity generated by natural gas, the Netherlands (40%), and the UK (38%) aren’t too far off.

Spain is an outlier among major European nations and a success story in a transition towards renewable energy sources. While in the period from 2017-2021 the country was primarily dependent on natural gas (29%), in 2022 natural gas’ contribution to electricity generation fell to 14% as wind rose up to become the primary electricity generator with a 32% share.

Accelerating the EU’s Energy Transition

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, energy independence in the EU has become of utmost importance, and countries have taken the opportunity to accelerate their transition towards renewable energy sources.

A new report from Ember highlights how the transition made considerable progress in 2022, with solar and wind power (22%) overtaking natural gas (20%) in electricity generation for the first time ever.

While 2022 did see an increase in fossil fuel electricity generation for the EU, Ember is expecting it to decline in 2023 by as much as 20%. If the EU can sustain this accelerated shift away from fossil fuels, this map of primary energy sources of electricity generation could feature many more renewable and low-carbon energy sources in the near future.

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Energy Shift

Visualized: The Growth of Clean Energy Stocks

Visual Capitalist partnered with EnergyX to analyze five major clean energy stocks and explore the factors driving this growth.

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This line chart shows the growth of clean energy stocks and hints at their cumulative five-year returns.

The Growth of Clean Energy Stocks

Over the last few years, energy investment trends have shifted from fossil fuels to renewable and sustainable energy sources. Long-term energy investors now see significant returns from clean energy stocks, especially compared to those invested in fossil fuels alone.

For this graphic, Visual Capitalist has collaborated with EnergyX to examine the rise of clean energy stocks and gain a deeper understanding of the factors driving this growth.

Sustainable Energy Stock Performance

In 2023, the IEA reported that 62% of all energy investment went toward sustainable sources. As the world embraces sustainable energy and technologies like EVs, it’s no surprise that clean energy companies provide solid returns for their investors over long periods.

Taking the top-five clean energy stocks by market cap (as of April 2024) and charting their five-year cumulative returns, it is clear that investments in clean energy are growing:

CompanyPrice: 01/04/2019Price: 12/29/20245-Year-Return %
First Solar, Inc.$46.32$172.28272%
Enphase Energy, Inc.$5.08$132.142,501%
Consolidated Edison, Inc.$76.55$90.9719%
NextEra Energy, Inc.$43.13$60.7441%
Brookfield Renewable Partners$14.78$26.2878%
promotional graphic with a button and wheel that promotes the EnergyX investment site

But how does this compare to the performance of fossil fuel stocks?

When comparing the performance of the S&P Global Oil Index and the S&P Clean Energy Index between 2019 and 2023, we see that the former returned 15%, whereas the latter returned an impressive 41%. This trend demonstrates the potential for clean energy stocks to yield significant returns on an industry level, sparking optimism and excitement for potential investors.

A Shift In Returns

With global investment trends moving away from traditional, non-sustainable sources, the companies that could shape the energy transition provide investors with alternative opportunities and avenues for growth.

One such company is EnergyX. The lithium technology company has patented a groundbreaking technology that can improve lithium extraction rates by an incredible 300%, and its stock price has grown tenfold since its first offering in 2021.

promotional graphic that promotes the EnergyX investment site
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Energy Shift

Visualized: A Decade of Clean Energy Investment

In this graphic, Visual Capitalist has partnered with EnergyX to explore the growth of global clean energy investment.

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Visualized: A Decade of Clean Energy Investment

Global energy investment is growing every year. But recently, investments in clean energy have been significantly outpacing investments in fossil fuels.

For this graphic, we partnered with EnergyX to explore how global energy investment has changed and learn how investments in clean energy are starting to pay off for their investors.

The Rise of Sustainable Energy Investment

Propelled by various climate initiatives such as the Paris Agreement and the widespread adoption of EVs, global investment in sustainable energy surged to over $1.7 trillion in 2023, the highest ever, and the IEA projects that this growth could continue:

Energy Product20202021202220232030F
Clean Electrification$0.97T$1.05$1.21T$1.34T$1.65T
Low-Emission Fuels$0.01T$0.01$0.01T$0.02T$0.05T
Energy Efficiency$0.28T$0.35$0.39T$0.38T$0.49T
Clean Energy Total$1.26T$1.41T$1.61T$1.74T$2.19T
Natural Gas$0.26T$0.27T$0.31T$0.32T$0.35T
Oil$0.42T$0.48T$0.52T$0.55T$0.60T
Coal$0.16T$0.16T$0.18T$0.18T$0.11T
Fossil Fuel Total$0.84T$0.91T$1.01T$1.05T$1.06T
Total Energy Investment$2.10T$2.32T$2.62T$2.79T$3.25T
promotional graphic with a button and wheel that promotes the EnergyX investment site

Between 2020 and 2030, global investment in sustainable energy could increase by 74% to nearly $2.2 trillion, compared to just 26% additional investment in fossil fuels, with a forecast total of $1.06 trillion. This shows that sustainability is the future of energy investment.

Sustainable Investor Success Stories

While the growing investments in clean energy show that the world embraces sustainability, energy investors will still look for decent returns. Now, in 2024, clean energy investments are beginning to bear fruit. Here are just a few examples:

  • Between 2019 and 2023, Tesla had a cumulative return of 1,073%
  • NextEra Energy’s quarterly dividend increased by over 10% as of February 2024
  • Investors in EnergyX have 10x’ed their investments since the company’s first offering in 2021

Lithium plays a critical role in powering electric vehicles (EVs) and facilitating the transition to sustainable energy. EnergyX has patented technology that enhances lithium extraction rates by up to 300%, contributing to meeting the growing demand for lithium and fueling the EVs of the future.

promotional graphic that promotes the EnergyX investment site
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