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Renewable electricity

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Assessment versions

Published (reviewed and quality assured)

Justification for indicator selection

Electricity generated from renewable energy sources generally has a lower environmental impact (e.g. emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants) over its life-cycle than electricity generated from fossil fuels. A higher share of renewable electricity thus helps diminishing the environmental pressures stemming from electricity generation.

An almost full decarbonisation of the electricity sector[1] will be needed to meet the EU long-term ambition of reducing GHG-emissions by 80-95% in 2050.

This indicator is closely linked with ENER 38, ENER 28 and ENER 29.



[1] The European Commission Communication “A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050” points to a 93% to 99% reduction of greenhouse gases in the EU power sector by 2050 compared to 1990 levels.

Scientific references:

Indicator definition

This indicator traces the share of renewable electricity, expressed as the ratio (%) between the electricity produced from renewable energy sources and gross national electricity consumption. It measures the contribution of electricity produced from renewable energy sources to the national gross electricity consumption.

Renewable energy sources are defined as renewable non-fossil energy sources: wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, hydropower, biomass, landfill gas, sewage treatment plant gas and biogases. Electricity produced from renewable energy sources comprises the electricity generation from hydro plants (excluding that produced as a result of pumping storage systems), wind, solar, geothermal and electricity from biomass/wastes. Electricity from biomass/wastes comprises electricity generated from wood/wood wastes and the burning other of solid wastes of a renewable nature (straw, black liquor), municipal solid waste incineration, biogas (incl. landfill, sewage, farm gas) and liquid biofuels. Gross national electricity consumption comprises total gross national electricity generation from all fuels (including autoproduction), plus electricity imports, minus exports.

Units

Electricity generation is measured in either GWh or TWh (1000 GWh). The share of elecrticity generated from renewable energy sources is express as percentage.

Policy context and targets

Context description

Environmental context

The share of electricity generation from renewable sources provides a broad indication of progress towards reducing the environmental impact of electricity on the environment. Increasing the share of renewables in gross electricity consumption will help the EU to reduce the GHG and air pollutant emissions associated with fossil fuel-based power generation in view of meeting the long-term EU ambition of achieving an 80%-95% reduction of GHG emissions by 2050 compared to 1990 levels (EC, 2011). Renewable electricity generation not only has environmental benefits such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but also has broader sustainability implications (positive and negative), which are briefly discussed below.

Emissions of particulate matters and air pollutants are also lower for many types of renewable electricity generation compared to electricity from fossil fuels. Hydropower, wind power, solar power, geothermal, and power generated from waves and tides does not lead to emissions of air pollutants during operation. The use of biomass replacing coal or gas is not necessarily reducing emissions of air pollutants and it requires careful sourcing of biomass resources to prevent potential negative impacts on land, water and biodiversity. Also waste incineration, which is in part of renewable origin, leads to emissions of certain air pollutants. From the waste management perspective, waste incineration in combination with production of useful energy is to be preferred over landfilling but is a less good option than for example re-use and recycling approaches.

Like for all energy resources and technologies, also the implementation of renewable electricity projects may give rise to negative impacts on landscapes, habitats and ecosystems if such impacts are not adequately considered in relation to projects. In many cases however, impacts can be minimised through careful site selection and project design. In general, life cycle impacts associated with renewable energy sources tend to be lower than those of non-renewable energy sources.

Policy context

DIRECTIVE 2001/77/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 27 September 2001 on the promotion of electricity produced from renewable energy sources in the internal electricity market.

Act of Accession of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia, JO L 236, 23.09.2003, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2003:236:0586:0657:EN:PDF

DIRECTIVE 2006/108/EC of 20 November 2006 adapting Directives 90/377/EEC and 2001/77/EC in the field of energy, by reason of the accession of Bulgaria and Romania

DIRECTIVE 2009/28/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 23 April 2009 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources and amending and subsequently repealing Directives 2001/77/EC and 2003/30/ECsets an indicative target of 21% of renewable electricity in gross electricity consumption in 2010 at EU level. Fulfilling this target will also help meeting the new, mandatory target of 20% renewables in final energy consumption in 2020 set by the Directive 2009/28/EC (see also ENER 28).

Communication from the Commission; COM(2012) 271- Renewable Energy: a major player in the European energy market.

Energy 2020 – A strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy (COM(2010) 639 final):Energy efficiency is the first of the five priorities of the new energy strategy defined by the Commission.

The European Strategic Energy Technology Plan; COM(2007) 723focuses on bringing new renewable energy technologies to market competitiveness.

Other Directives:

Directive 2009/29/EC of the European parliament and of the Council amending directive 2003/87/EC so as to improve and extend the greenhouse gas emission allowance trading scheme of the community

Directive 2009/31/EC of the European parliament and of the Council on the geological storage of carbon dioxide

Community guidelines on state aid for environmental protection (2008/c 82/01)

Directive 2008/101/EC of the European parliament and of the Council amending directive 2003/87/EC so as to include aviation activities in the scheme for greenhouse gas Emission allowance trading within the community

Regulation (EC) no 443/2009 of the European parliament and of the Council setting emission performance standards for new passenger cars as part of the community’s integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles

References

Directive 2001/77/EC - Directive 2001/77/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 September 2001 on the promotion of electricity produced from renewable energy sources in the internal electricity market.

Directive 2009/28/EC - Directive 2009/28/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources and amending and subsequently repealing Directives 2001/77/EC and 2003/30/EC, Brussels, 2009

COM(2008) 16 final - Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2003/87/EC so as to improve and extend the greenhouse gas emission allowance trading system of the Community

European Commission, 2011. Impact assessment accompanying the Energy Roadmap 2050, SEC(2011) 1565/2, Brussels.

IEA WEO 2010 – Executive summary: http://www.worldenergyoutlook.org/media/weo2010.pdf

IEA (2010), World Energy Outlook 2010, Paris (with additional data supplied from IEA)

Targets

According to the Renewable Electricity Directive (2001/77/EC) the EU28 had to meet by 2010 an indicative 21.0% target for renewable electricity in gross electricity consumption. From 1 January 2012, the Renewable Electricity Directive was repealed by the Renewable Energy Directive 2009/28/EC.The latter aims to ensure that by 2020 renewable energy will reach at least 20% of gross final energy consumed in the EU28 and sets binding national targets for the share of renewables in gross final energy consumption for 2020. Progress towards the targets in the Renewable Energy Directive is addressed in ENER28.

In 2010, the share of renewables in gross electricity consumption was 21.5 %, hence the overall EU28 indicative target has been slightly overachieved (by 0.5%). Twelve member states however did not meet their national indicative targets under the Renewable Electricity Directive: Austria, Cyprus, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Related policy documents

  • 443/2009
    Regulation (ec) no 443/2009 of the European parliament and of the Council setting emission performance standards for new passenger cars as part of the community's integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles.
  • 2008/101/EC
    Directive 2008/101/ec of the European parliament and of the Council amending directive 2003/87/ec so as to include aviation activities in the scheme for greenhouse gas Emission allowance trading within the community
  • 2008/c 82/01
    Community guidelines on state aid for environmental protection (2008/c 82/01)
  • 2009/28/EC
    Directive 2009/28/ec of the European parliament and of the Council on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources
  • 2009/29/ec
    Directive 2009/29/ec of the European parliament and of the Council amending directive 2003/87/ec so as to improve and extend the greenhouse gas emission allowance trading scheme of the community.
  • 2009/31/EC
    Directive 2009/31/ec of the European parliament and of the Council on the geological storage of carbon dioxide.
  • COM(2007) 723
    Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-plan); COM(2007) 723
  • COM(2008) 16 final
    Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2003/87/EC so as to improve and extend the greenhouse gasemission allowance trading system of the Community
  • COM(2010) 639 final: Energy 2020 – A strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy
    A strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy
  • COM(2012) 271 final
    Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: “Renewable Energy : a major player in the European energy market”
  • DIRECTIVE 2001/77/EC Renewable electricity
    Directive 2001/77/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 September 2001 on the promotion of electricity produced from renewable energy sources in the internal electricity market

Key policy question

What is the share of each renewable electricity source in gross electricity generation in Europe?

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

Meta data

Technical information

  1. Data source:
    Eurostat (historical data), http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/
    IEA Data Services, http://data.iea.org/IEASTORE/DEFAULT.ASP
  2. Description of data / Indicator definition:
    The share of renewable electricity is the ratio between the electricity produced from renewable energy sources and gross (national) electricity consumption, expressed as a percentage. It measures the contribution of electricity produced from renewable energy sources to the national gross electricity consumption.

    Renewable energy sources are defined as renewable non-fossil energy sources: wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, hydropower, biomass, landfill gas, sewage treatment plant gas and biogases. Electricity produced from renewable energy sources comprises the electricity generation from hydro plants (excluding that produced as a result of pumping storage systems), wind, solar, geothermal and electricity from biomass/wastes. Electricity from biomass/wastes comprises electricity generated from wood/wood wastes and the burning other of solid wastes of a renewable nature (straw, black liquor), municipal solid waste incineration, biogas (incl. landfill, sewage, farm gas) and liquid biofuels. Gross national electricity consumption comprises total gross national electricity generation from all fuels (including autoproduction), plus electricity imports, minus exports.

  3. Geographical coverage:
    The Agency had 33 member countries at the time of writing of this fact sheet. These are the 28 European Union Member States and Turkey, plus Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. No data was available for Iceland and Liechtenstein - data available at Eurostat- Data for World, United States, China, India, Africa and the Middle East –IEA /DOE data-
  4. Temporal coverage: 1990-2012.
  5. Methodology and frequency of data collection: Data collected annually.
  6. Eurostat definitions and concepts for energy statistics http://circa.europa.eu/irc/dsis/coded/info/data/coded/en/Theme9.htm

 
Methodology of data manipulation:

Eurostat Datasets Used:

Section:

  • Energy
  • Energy Statistics - quantities (nrg_quant)
  • Energy Statistics - supply, transformation, consumption (nrg_10)

 Datasets:

  • Supply, transformation, consumption - electricity - annual data (nrg_105a)
  • Supply, transformation, consumption - renewables (hydro, wind, photovoltaic) - annual data (nrg_1072a)

    These were downloaded in CSV format, and then manipulated using pivot tables. The data displayed in each pivot table can be viewed by checking the filter options applied, and reading the labels next to the pivot tables in blue text.


Codes:

  • Gross Inland Consumption: 100900
  • Total Gross Production: 107000
  • Gross Electricity Generation (all renewable energy sources): 108XXX

 

  • Autoproducer CHP plants
  • Autoproducer Electricity only
  • Main activity CHP plants
  • Main activity Electricity only

 
Average annual rate of growth calculated using: [(last year/base year) ^ (1/number of years) –1]*100

IEA data set:

  • Report ‘Electricity Information’, table ‘OECD, Electricity and Heat Generation’, balance ‘Gross Electricity Production (GWh)’, plant ‘Total plants’, products ‘Hydro’, ‘Pumped Hydro Production’, ‘Geothermal’, ‘Solar’, ‘Tide, Wave and Ocean’, ‘Wind’, ‘Municipal Waste (renew)’, ‘Municipal Waste (non-renew)’, ‘Wood/Woodwaste/Other solid waste’, ‘Landfill Gas’, ‘Sewage Sludge Gas’, ‘Other Biogas’, ’Liquid Biofuels’, ‘Non-specified comb. renew and waste’, ‘Non-specified comb. fuels for Heat’, ‘Other Sources’ and ‘Total Sources’.
  • [Eurostat 100100 Primary production (5510 Hydro power) equals IEA Hydro -/- Pumped Hydro Production (<1% difference)]
  •   Report ‘Energy Balances of OECD-countries’, table ‘Energy Balances’, product ‘Electricity’, flow ‘Import’, ‘Export’
  • Share renewables electricity in total electricity consumption(%) calculated by (Sum Renewables) / (Gross Electricity Generation Total Sources + Imports -/- Exports) in TWh.


EIA data set:
International Electricity Generation, 6.3 World Total Net Electricity Generation, 2.6 World Net Hydroelectric Power Generation, 2.8 World Net Geothermal, Solar, Wind, and Wood and Waste Electric Power Generation.

Qualitative information

  1. Strengths and weaknesses (at data level)
    Data gaps for breakdown of large hydropower. No projection or historic data for Croatia, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
    Data have traditionally been compiled by Eurostat through the annual Joint Questionnaires, shared by Eurostat and the International Energy Agency, following a well established and harmonised methodology. Methodological information on the annual Joint Questionnaires and data compilation can be found on Eurostat's website in the section on metadata on energy statistics: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_SDDS/EN/nrg_quant_sm1.htmReliability, accuracy, robustness, uncertainty (at data level):
  2. Indicator uncertainty (historic data)
    The renewables electricity directive (2001/77/EC) defines the share of renewable electricity as the percentage of electricity produced from renewable energy sources in gross electricity consumption. The numerator includes all electricity generated from renewable sources, most of which is for domestic use. The denominator contains all electricity consumed in a country, thus including imports and excluding exports of electricity. Therefore, the share of renewable electricity can be higher than 100 % in a country if all electricity is produced from renewable sources and some of the over-generated renewable electricity is exported to a neighbouring country.
    Biomass and wastes, as defined by Eurostat, cover organic, non-fossil material of biological origin, which may be used for heat production or electricity generation. They comprise wood and wood waste, biogas, municipal solid waste (MSW) and biofuels. MSW comprises biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes produced by different sectors. Non-biodegradable municipal and solid wastes are not considered to be renewable, but current data availability does not allow the non-biodegradable content of wastes to be identified separately, except for industry.
    The electricity produced as a result from hydropower storage systems is not classified as a renewable source of energy in terms of electricity production, but is part of the gross electricity consumption in a country.
    The share of renewable electricity could increase even if the actual electricity produced from renewable sources falls. Similarly, the share could fall despite an increase in electricity generation from renewable sources. Therefore, from an environmental point of view, attaining the 2010 target for the share of renewable electricity does not necessarily imply that carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation will fall.
    Electricity consumption within the national territory includes imports of electricity from neighbouring countries. It also excludes the electricity produced nationally but exported abroad. In some countries the contribution of electricity trade to total electricity consumption and the changes observed from year to year need to be looked at carefully when analysing trends in renewable electricity. Impacts on the (national) environment are also affected since emissions are accounted where the electricity is produced whereas consumption is accounted where the electricity is consumed.
  3. Overall scoring – historic data (1 = no major problems, 3 = major reservations):
  • Relevance: 1
  • Accuracy: 1
  • Comparability over time: 1
  • Comparability over space: 1

Methodology for gap filling

No gap filling necessary

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

Data specifications

EEA data references

  • No datasets have been specified here.

External data references

Data sources in latest figures

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

The renewables electricity directive (2001/77/EC) defines the share of renewable electricity as the percentage of electricity produced from renewable energy sources in gross electricity consumption. The numerator includes all electricity generated from renewable sources, most of which is for domestic use. The denominator contains all electricity consumed in a country, thus including imports and excluding exports of electricity. Therefore, the share of renewable electricity can be higher than 100 % in a country if all electricity is produced from renewable sources and some of the over-generated renewable electricity is exported to a neighbouring country.

Biomass and wastes, as defined by Eurostat, cover organic, non-fossil material of biological origin, which may be used for heat production or electricity generation. They comprise wood and wood waste, biogas, municipal solid waste (MSW) and biofuels. MSW comprises biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes produced by different sectors. Non-biodegradable municipal and solid wastes are not considered to be renewable, but current data availability does not allow the non-biodegradable content of wastes to be identified separately, except for industry.
The electricity produced as a result from hydropower storage systems is not classified as a renewable source of energy in terms of electricity production, but is part of the gross electricity consumption in a country.

The share of renewable electricity could increase even if the actual electricity produced from renewable sources falls. Similarly, the share could fall despite an increase in electricity generation from renewable sources. Therefore, from an environmental point of view, attaining the 2010 target for the share of renewable electricity does not necessarily imply that carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation will fall.
Electricity consumption within the national territory includes imports of electricity from neighbouring countries. It also excludes the electricity produced nationally but exported abroad. In some countries the contribution of electricity trade to total electricity consumption and the changes observed from year to year need to be looked at carefully when analysing trends in renewable electricity. Impacts on the (national) environment are also affected since emissions are accounted where the electricity is produced whereas consumption is accounted where the electricity is consumed.

Data sets uncertainty

Data gaps for breakdown of large hydropower. No projection or historic data for Croatia, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

Data have traditionally been compiled by Eurostat through the annual Joint Questionnaires, shared by Eurostat and the International Energy Agency, following a well established and harmonised methodology. Methodological information on the annual Joint Questionnaires and data compilation can be found on Eurostat's website in the section on metadata on energy statistics: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_SDDS/EN/nrg_quant_sm1.htm

Rationale uncertainty

 

Further work

Short term work

Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.

Long term work

Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.

General metadata

Responsibility and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Mihai Florin Tomescu

Ownership

European Environment Agency (EEA)

Identification

Indicator code
CSI 031
ENER 030
Specification
Version id: 2
Primary theme: Energy Energy

Permalinks

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Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year in October-December (Q4)

Classification

DPSIR: Response
Typology: Performance indicator (Type B - Does it matter?)

Related content

Data references used

Latest figures and vizualizations

Relevant policy documents

Geographic coverage

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