Renewable coverage of power demand remained high in 2019, ending the year at 23%. A year-on-year decrease in hydropower generation was offset in part by rises in wind and solar power generation, made possible by favourable weather conditions and a further increase in installed capacity.
Hydropower accounted for 51.9% of renewable coverage, wind power for 29.5%, solar power for 10% and bioenergy for 8.6%.
Renewable electricity generation was flat in 2019, and again helped keep CO2 emissions in check. Renewable generation has a variable production cost of zero, and it is usually substituted for fossil-fired thermal technologies that are costlier to operate and emit significant carbon, coal-fired plants being an example. However, even though very few coal power plants were fired up in France in 2019 (see section on coal in the 2019 Electricity Report), given the level of interconnection between European grids, the renewable energy produced in France was in most cases substituted for generation from coal-fired plants in other countries like Poland and Germany.
In other words, higher renewable electricity output in France contributed to the collective goal, notably in Europe, of reducing CO2 emissions. It is estimated that French renewable electricity production avoided 5 million tonnes of CO2 in France and 15 million tonnes in Europe excluding France.