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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

Visualizing the Rise of the U.S. as Top Crude Oil Producer

Over the last decade, the U.S. has surpassed Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s top producer of crude oil.

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Line chart showing how the U.S. has surpassed Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world's top producer of crude oil.

Visualizing the Rise of the U.S. as Top Crude Oil Producer

Over the last decade, the United States has established itself as the world’s top producer of crude oil, surpassing Saudi Arabia and Russia.

This infographic illustrates the rise of the U.S. as the biggest oil producer, based on data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

U.S. Takes Lead in 2018

Over the last three decades, the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Russia have alternated as the top crude producers, but always by small margins.

During the 1990s, Saudi Arabia dominated crude production, taking advantage of its extensive oil reserves. The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 42% of the country’s GDP, 87% of its budget revenues, and 90% of export earnings.

However, during the 2000s, Russia surpassed Saudi Arabia in production during some years, following strategic investments in expanding its oil infrastructure. The majority of Russia’s oil goes to OECD Europe (60%), with around 20% going to China.

Crude Oil Production United StatesSaudi ArabiaRussia
199211.93%13.97%12.74%
199311.50%13.68%11.35%
199410.96%13.32%10.50%
199510.60%13.17%9.96%
199610.21%12.87%9.49%
19979.84%12.73%9.29%
19989.39%12.58%9.05%
19999.06%11.99%9.33%
20008.67%12.33%9.64%
20018.65%11.89%10.45%
20028.63%11.49%11.53%
20038.05%12.92%12.10%
20047.46%12.74%12.67%
20057.00%13.21%12.82%
20066.85%13.00%12.90%
20076.84%12.38%13.29%
20086.71%12.44%12.56%
20097.32%11.28%12.98%
20107.37%11.31%13.03%
20117.55%12.81%13.02%
20128.50%13.04%12.94%
20139.76%12.86%13.10%
201411.18%12.60%12.86%
201511.67%12.77%12.66%
201610.92%13.12%13.02%
201711.53%12.68%13.05%
201813.21%12.77%12.96%
201914.90%12.15%13.20%
202014.87%12.37%12.97%
202114.59%12.06%13.10%
202214.73%13.17%12.76%

Over the 2010s, the U.S. witnessed an increase in domestic production, much of it attributable to hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in the shale formations ranging from Texas to North Dakota. It became the world’s largest oil producer in 2018, outproducing Russia and Saudi Arabia.

The U.S. accounted for 14.7% of crude oil production worldwide in 2022, compared to 13.1% for Saudi Arabia and 12.7% for Russia.

Despite leading petroleum production, the U.S. still trails seven countries in remaining proven reserves underground, with 55,251 million barrels.

Venezuela has the biggest reserves with 303,221 million barrels. Saudi Arabia, with 267,192 million barrels, occupies the second spot, while Russia is seventh with 80,000 million barrels.

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Energy Shift

Visualizing All the Nuclear Waste in the World

Despite concerns about nuclear waste, high-level radioactive waste constitutes less than 0.25% of all radioactive waste ever generated.

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Graphic cubes illustrating the global volume of nuclear waste and its disposal methods.

Visualizing All the Nuclear Waste in the World

Originally posted on the Decarbonization Channel. Subscribe to the free mailing list to be the first to receive decarbonization-related visualizations, with a focus on the U.S. power sector.

Nuclear power is among the safest and cleanest sources of electricity, making it a critical part of the clean energy transition.

However, nuclear waste, an inevitable byproduct, is often misunderstood.

In collaboration with the National Public Utilities Council, this graphic shows the volume of all existing nuclear waste, categorized by its level of hazardousness and disposal requirements, based on data from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Storage and Disposal

Nuclear provides about 10% of global electricity generation.

Nuclear waste, produced as a result of this, can be divided into four different types:

  • Very low-level waste: Waste suitable for near-surface landfills, requiring lower containment and isolation.
  • Low-level waste: Waste needing robust containment for up to a few hundred years, suitable for disposal in engineered near-surface facilities.
  • Intermediate-level waste: Waste that requires a greater degree of containment and isolation than that provided by near-surface disposal.
  • High-level waste: Waste is disposed of in deep, stable geological formations, typically several hundred meters below the surface.

Despite safety concerns, high-level radioactive waste constitutes less than 0.25% of total radioactive waste reported to the IAEA.

Waste ClassDisposed (cubic meters)Stored (cubic meters)Total (cubic meters)
Very low-level waste758,802313,8821,072,684
Low-level waste1,825,558204,8582,030,416
Intermediate level waste671,097201,893872,990
High-level waste3,9605,3239,283

Stored and disposed radioactive waste reported to the IAEA under the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management. Data is from the last reporting year which varies by reporting country, 2019-2023.

The amount of waste produced by the nuclear power industry is small compared to other industrial activities.

While flammable liquids comprise 82% of the hazardous materials shipped annually in the U.S., radioactive waste accounts for only 0.01%.

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