Renewable electricity consumption (CSI 031/ENER 030) - Assessment published Mar 2007
Energy (Primary topic)
Typology: Performance indicator (Type B - Does it matter?)
- CSI 031
- ENER 030
Key policy question: How fast the share of renewable electricity in total gross electricity consumption is increasing in Europe?
The share of renewable energy in EU-25 electricity consumption grew only slightly over the period 1990-2004 to reach 13.7 %, despite a substantial increase in the total amount of renewable electricity generation (up by 49 % since 1990). The lower amount of electricity production from hydropower, seen in 2002 and 2003 as a result of low rainfall, began to increase again in 2004. Production from both wind and photovoltaics increased substantially in 2004. However, significant further growth in production from renewable energy sources will be needed to meet the EU-25 indicative target of a 21 % share by 2010.
Renewable energy makes an important contribution to meeting electricity consumption, with a share of 13.7 % in 2004. However, this share has only grown slightly since 1990 (12.2 %) despite increasing substantially in absolute terms. Total renewable electricity production grew by 49 % over the period 1990 to 2004, but this was only somewhat faster than the growth in electricity consumption itself (a 34% increase over the same period). In 2002, the share of renewables in gross electricity consumption declined quite substantially, by 1.5 percentage points (compared to 2001) with a similar lower level occurring in 2003 due to lower production from hydropower (as a result of lower rainfall). However, in 2004 the share of renewables in gross electricity consumption began to increase again. Strong growth in electricity production was seen from both wind and photovoltaics. However, hydropower still dominates renewable electricity production in most Member States with approximately a 70 % share across the EU-25 in 2004, compared to around 15.6 % coming from biomass and waste and 13.4 % from wind and the rest from geothermal (1.3 %), and solar (0.2%).
There are significant differences in the share of renewables between the EU-25 Member States. These reflect differences in the availability of natural resources in each country and the policies chosen to support the development of renewable energy. Amongst the EU-25 in 2004, Austria had the greatest share of renewable electricity, including large hydropower, in gross electricity consumption and the third highest share excluding large hydropower. Finland and Denmark show the largest shares of renewable electricity when large hydropower is excluded. In both these countries, government policies have been in place to encourage the growth of respectively biomass (Finland) and wind energy (Denmark) technologies. Within the new Member States, Latvia and Slovenia had the largest share of electricity from renewable energy in 2004, with most of this coming from large hydropower.
Despite the introduction of policies promoting the development of renewable energy in all EU-25 Member States, substantial additional production will be required to meet the EU-25 renewable electricity indicative target of 21 % by 2010 set in Directive 2001/77/EC, particularly given the expected increase in gross electricity consumption over this period. While large hydropower accounts for almost two-thirds of renewable electricity production, it is unlikely to increase substantially in the future due to environmental concerns and a lack of suitable sites, particularly within EU-15. Other renewable energy sources, such as wind, biomass, solar and small-scale hydropower will therefore have to grow substantially if the 2010 target is to be met.
The 2004 communication from the European Commission expects the share of renewable electricity for the EU-15 at between 18 and 19 % in 2010 on the basis of currently implemented policies (EC, 2004), still short of the 21 % indicative target. More recently (10/01/2007) the Commission issued a report on the progress made towards the 2010 renewable electricity target, showing that the overall share of renewable electricity will fall just short of the target, reaching 19% by 2010.
Renewable electricity consumption (IEA)
provided by International Energy Agency (IEA)
provided by US Energy Information Administration (EIA)
Energy statistics (Eurostat)
provided by Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat)
More information about this indicator
See this indicator specification for more details.
Contacts and ownership
EEA Contact InfoMihai Florin Tomescu
EEA Management Plan2010 (note: EEA internal system)
Frequency of updates
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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