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Renewable electricity - outlook from EEA

Indicator Specificationexpired Created 12 Apr 2007 Published 08 Jun 2009 Last modified 04 Sep 2015, 06:59 PM
This content has been archived on 12 Nov 2013, reason: Content not regularly updated
Indicator codes: Outlook 053
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Assessment versions

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Justification for indicator selection

Renewable electricity is generally considered environmentally benign, with very low net emissions of CO2 per unit of electricity produced, even allowing for emissions associated with the construction of the electricity production facilities. Emissions of other pollutants are also generally lower for renewable electricity production than for electricity produced from fossil fuels. The exception to this is the incineration of Municipal and Solid Waste (MSW), which due to high costs of separation, usually involves the combustion of some mixed wastes including materials contaminated with heavy metals. Emissions to atmosphere from MSW incineration are subject to stringent regulations including tight controls on emissions of cadmium, mercury, and other such substances.

The exploitation of renewable energy sources usually has some negative impact on landscapes, habitats and ecosystems, although many impacts can be minimised through careful site selection. Large hydropower schemes in particular can have adverse impacts including flooding, disruption of ecosystems and hydrology, and socio-economic impacts if resettlement is required. Some solar photovoltaic schemes require relatively large quantities of heavy metals in their construction and geothermal energy can release pollutant gases carried by hot fluids if not properly controlled. Wind turbines can have visual and noise impacts on the areas in which they are sited. Some types of biomass and biofuel crops have considerable land, water and agricultural input requirements such as fertilisers and pesticides.

Scientific references

Indicator definition


Renewable electricity is the ratio between the electricity produced from renewable energy sources and the gross national electricity consumption calculated for a calendar year. It is usually expressed as a percentage of the former to the latter. It measures the contribution of electricity produced from renewable energy sources (wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, hydropower, biomass, landfill gas, sewage treatment plant gas and biogases) to the national electricity consumption.

Model used:

European Environment Agency

Temporal coverage:
1990 - 2030

Geographical coverage:

EU-25: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Cyprus, Czech republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia


Electricity generation is measured in terawatt hours (TWh).

Policy context and targets

Context description

The indicator shows the trends in renewable electricity production. It can be useful to monitor  performances of the wide range of policies at pan-european and national level that attempt to influence energy consumption and energy efficiency, electricity generation, and, therefore, extent of environmental impacts.

Global policy context

The major documents that relate to trends of the energy production and electricity generation at the global level were developed and presented during the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg (WSSD,2002) in Agenda 21. WSSD, 2002 aims to achieve a sustainable energy future, including diversified energy sources using cleaner technologies. Moreover, there is a number of sub-negotiations and declarations concerning more sustainable ratio in balance between a global energy supply and production of different energy types, as well as more sustainable electricity generation.

Pan-European policy context

The recent pan-european policies concerning different aspects of energy production and electricity generation have been developed under different international fora. 

The Committee on Sustainable Energy seeks to reform energy prices and subsidies and ways how to carry out it to meet more sustainable energy production and consumption in the region  (UNECE Guidelines).

Kiev Declaration "Environment for Europe" (2003) aims at supporting further efforts to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy production to meet environmental objectives.

EU policy context

On 23 January 2008 the European Commission adopted the 'Climate Action and Renewable Energy' package. The Package sets a number of targets for EU member states with the ambition to achieve the goal of limiting the rise in global average temperature to 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times including: GHG reduction of 20% compared to 1990 by 2020. (under a satisfactory global climate agreement this could be scaled up to a 30% reduction); 20% reduction in energy consumption through improved energy efficiency, an increase in renewable energy's share to 20% and a 10% share for sustainably produced biofuels and other renewable fuels in transport. With these goals in mind, each Member State will by June 30th 2010 submit a National Renewable Energy Action Plan to the Commission.

EECCA policy context

Energy efficiency and energy trade, and, consequently, energy and electricity productions are highlighted in the EECCA Environment Strategy. Moreover, there are negotiations concerning decisions about improvements in hydropower sector in Central Asia (Cooperation Strategy in Asia, 2004).


The Renewable electricity generation indicator is implemented  for a wide range of structural and quantitative targets in  different regional levels.

 Global level

  • Implement energy strategies for Sustainable Development, including diversified energy sources for energy production and electricity generation using cleaner technologies (WSSD)

Pan-European level

  • Increase the share of renewable sources in energy production (Kiev Declaration)
  • Reforming energy prices and subsidies to achieve more sustainable energy production and electricity generation (UNECE Guidelines)

EU level

  • ncrease the share of renewables in its overall energy mix to 20%, including a 10% biofuel target for transport by 2020 'Climate Action and Renewable Energy' package
  • The EU indicative Combined Heat and Power target set in the Community Strategy on cogeneration to promote Combined Heat and Power, COM(97) 514final, of an 18% share of CHP electricity production in total gross electricity production by 2010.

EECCA level

  • Repair, modernise and/or decommission obsolete or accident-prone equipment at hydropower facilities (Cooperation Strategy to promote Rational and Efficient Use of Energy Resources in Central Asia)
  •  Energy Trade for more efficient energy production (EECCA Strategy)

Links to other policy

EECCA Environmental Strategy

UNECE Guidelines

Cooperation Strategy to Promote the Rational and Efficient Use of Water and Energy Resources in Central Asia (2004)

Related policy documents

Key policy question

Are we switching to renewable energy sources to meet our electricity consumption?


Methodology for indicator calculation

The indicator of the Final energy consumption is produced using the PRIMES model. The model covers the horizon from 1990 to 2030 with 5 years periods. A fundamental assumption in PRIMES is that producers and consumers both respond to changes in prices.

Overview of the PRIMES Model

PRIMES is a partial equilibrium model for the European Union energy system developed by, and maintained at, The National Technical University of Athens, E3M-Laboratory. The most recent version of the model used in the calculations covers each of the EU Member States, EU candidate countries and Neighbouring countries, uses Eurostat as the main data source, and is updated with 2000 as the base year. The PRIMES model is the result of collaborative research under a series of projects supported by the Joule programme of the Directorate General for Research of the European Commission.

The model determines the equilibrium by finding the prices of each energy form such that the quantity producers find best to supply match the quantity consumers wish to use. The equilibrium is static (within each time period) but repeated in a time-forward path, under dynamic relationships. The model is behavioural but also represents in an explicit and detailed way the available energy demand and supply technologies and pollution abatement technologies. It reflects considerations about market economics, industry structure, energy/environmental policies and regulation. These are conceived so as to influence the market behaviour of energy system agents. The modular structure of PRIMES reflects a distribution of decision-making among agents that decide individually about their supply, demand, combined supply and demand, and prices. Then the market-integrating part of PRIMES simulates market clearing. PRIMES is a general purpose model. It conceived for forecasting, scenario construction and policy impact analysis. It covers a medium to long-term horizon. It is modular and allows either for a unified model use or for partial use of modules to support specific energy studies.

For more information see:http://www/; http://www/ and

Methodology for gap filling

No methodology for gap filling has been specified. Probably this info has been added together with indicator calculation.

Methodology references


Methodology uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Data sets uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

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

Anita Pirc Velkavrh


No owners.


Indicator code
Outlook 053
Version id: 1


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DPSIR: Response
Typology: Performance indicator (Type B - Does it matter?)
European Environment Agency (EEA)
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