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European gas use fell 1.9% to 599 Bcm in 2018, RES power up 9%: IEA

Brussels — European primary gas demand fell 1.9% to 599 Bcm in 2018, while renewable power generation grew 8.5% to 1,462 TWh, the International Energy Agency said in a report Tuesday.

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The figures reveal how renewables are displacing both coal and gas in European power generation, in contrast to the US and China, where gas demand climbed sharply on coal-to-gas switching.

Renewables reached a record 37% share of German power generation in 2018, overtaking coal for the first time, the IEA said in its Global Energy and CO2 Status Report 2018.

They also reached a record 35% share of the UK's total 335 TWh of power generation in 2018, while coal's share fell to a record low of 5%.

Overall, European primary coal demand fell 2.6% to 462 million metric tons of coal equivalent, while demand grew everywhere else in the world except the US, where it was down 4.5% to 451 million mtce.

European gas demand fell to 599 Bcm on lower use in power generation, and also because of a mild fourth quarter reducing heating demand.

Gas demand grew in the rest of the world however, up 11% in the US to 854 Bcm and 18% in China to 279 Bcm in 2018.

European power demand grew by less than 1% in 2018, the IEA said, without giving more details.

Overall European primary energy demand was almost flat at 0.2% growth to 2 billion mt of oil equivalent, despite economic growth of 1.8%.

Higher energy efficiency helped cut Germany's overall energy demand by 2.2%, for example, the IEA said.

European energy-related emissions fell by 1.3% to 4 billion mt of CO2, driven by a 4.5% drop in Germany, as both oil and coal burn fell sharply.

UK energy-related emissions fell for the sixth year, "hitting some of the lowest levels recorded since 1888," the IEA said, without giving more details.

France also saw energy-related emissions drop significantly as higher hydropower and nuclear availability saw coal and gas plants used less in 2018 than 2017, the IEA said, without giving detailed figures.

Energy-related emissions rose 1.7% on average globally, rising 4.8% to 2.3 billion mt CO2 in India, 3.1% to 4.9 billion mt CO2 in the US, and 2.5% to 9.5 billion mt CO2 in China.

-- Siobhan Hall, siobhan.hall@spglobal.com -- Edited by James Leech, newsdesk@spglobal.com