By Elitsa Gadeva and Sarah Morland in Gdansk
June 30 (Reuters) - Fossil fuels have surpassed renewables to become the European Union's largest source of power generation as use of natural gas reached its highest point in a decade, the bloc's statistics office said on Thursday.
Renewable sources had briefly taken the top spot during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, Eurostat said, but an economic rebound saw the region's electricity supply climb 4% in 2021, powered by coal, oil and natural gas.
Use of natural gas, which is mostly imported from abroad, rose by nearly 4% in 2021, the data showed, even amid spiraling prices in the second half of the year.
Prices have continued to rise this year following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, as the EU levered sanctions against Russia which had been set to boost supplies through a new pipeline to Germany.
Power generated from brown coal rose 16% and other bituminous coal jumped by more than a quarter. However, this remained below pre-pandemic levels and at the second-lowest point since 1990, according to Eurostat.
It said this indicates "a continued decline following the effects of the pandemic combined with those of coal exit policies."
Eurostat said power from nuclear power plants had risen by 7%, while on the renewable side, use of solar grew by 13%, followed by biofuels at 10%. Use of hydro and wind sources fell due to bad weather.