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Renewable electricity consumption (CSI 031/ENER 030) - Assessment published Apr 2008

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Generic metadata


Energy Energy (Primary topic)

energy | csi
DPSIR: Response
Typology: Performance indicator (Type B - Does it matter?)
Indicator codes
  • CSI 031
  • ENER 030
Geographic coverage:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom

Key policy question: How fast the share of renewable electricity in total gross electricity consumption is increasing in Europe?

Key messages

The share of renewable energy in EU-27 electricity consumption grew only slightly over the period 1990-2005 to reach 14 %, despite a substantial increase in the total amount of renewable electricity generation (up by 48 % since 1990). Hydro production fell in 2005 as a result of lower rainfall. Production from wind increased by 20 % in the last year (similar to biomass), and that of photovoltaics more than doubled. However, significant further growth in production from renewable energy sources will be needed to meet the EU indicative target of a 21 % share by 2010. Also, additional contributions from renewable electricity can be expected in order to meet the overall renewables target of 20 % agreed by the Council in March 2007.

Share of renewable electricity in gross electricity consumption in EU-27 in 2005 (and 2010 indicative targets)

Note: The renewable electricity directive (2001/77/EC) defines renewable electricity as the share of electricity produced from renewable energy sources in total electricity consumption

Data source:

European Environment Agency and Eurostat

Downloads and more info

Share of renewable electricity in gross electricity consumption (%) 1990-2005 and 2010 indicative targets

Note: Almost all electricity generated in Iceland and Norway come from renewable energy sources

Data source:

European Environment Agency and Eurostat

Downloads and more info

Key assessment

Renewable energy makes an important contribution to meeting electricity consumption, with a share of 14 % in 2005. However, this share has only grown slightly since 1990, where it was about 12 %, despite increasing substantially in absolute terms. Renewable electricity production grew by 48 % over the period 1990 to 2005 - faster than the growth in overall electricity consumption (a 24 % increase over the same period). On average, the share of large hydro in gross electricity consumption has declined since 2001 as a result of lower rainfall. This reduction has been more than offset by the increase in other renewable sources. Very strong growth in electricity production can be observed for wind, photovoltaics and biomass-fired power stations. Hydropower still dominates renewable electricity production in most Member States with approximately a share of 2/3 across the EU-27 in 2005. This compares with just above 17 % coming from biomass and waste, 15 % from wind and the rest from geothermal (1.2 %), and solar (0.3 %).

There are significant differences in the share of renewables between the EU-27 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-27 in 2005, Austria, Sweden and Latvia had the greatest shares of renewable electricity, including large hydropower, in gross electricity consumption. Denmark shows the largest share of renewable electricity when large hydropower is excluded.

Despite the introduction of policies promoting the development of renewable energy in EU Member States, substantial additional production will be required to meet the EU 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.

More recently, the European Council of 8-9 March 2007 endorsed a binding target of a 20 % share of renewable energies in overall EU energy consumption by 2020. Furthermore, in January 2008 the European Commission put forth an integrated proposal for 'climate action', including a proposal for a Directive on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources with country-specific targets by 2020. Therefore, even larger contributions from renewable electricity can be expected in order to meet the overall renewables target. According to the Council, differentiated national overall targets should be derived from the overall renewables target, leaving it to Member States to decide on national targets for each specific sector of renewable energies (electricity, heating and cooling, biofuels).

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Mihai Florin Tomescu


EEA Management Plan

2010 (note: EEA internal system)


Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year in October-December (Q4)
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European Environment Agency (EEA)
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1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100