Each energy source has its advantages and disadvantages in terms of the competitiveness, security of supply and the impact on the environment and climate. Are the renewable energy sources sun, wind and water our future? How environmentally friendly are fossil fuels coal, oil and natural gas?
Solar energy is a fast-growing, renewable energy source that generates very low emissions.
Wind power has no fuel costs, no emissions of CO2 and is the fastest growing source of energy in the EU.
Hydro power harnesses the energy present in the movement of water, and is by far the leading renewable energy source in the EU.
Ocean energy is a renewable energy source, in which electricity can be generated from tidal streams, waves or differences in salinity.
Biomass is a renewable energy source, and can be anything from energy crops to agricultural or forestry residues and waste. It is one of the fastest growing energy sources in Europe.
An efficient and inexpensive energy source, coal provides stable and large-scale electricity generation.
Oil is often used only as a back-up fuel when other plants cannot deliver enough energy, for instance during cold winter days.
Natural gas is a versatile energy source. It is used in a variety of industrial processes and is converted into heat and electricity. In households it is used for heating and cooking.
In 2010, there were 143 nuclear reactors operating in the EU, with another four under construction. In total, these power plants represent an installed capacity of 135 GW and account for over 28 per cent of the EU's electricity generation.