Renewable energy in gross inland energy consumption
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The share of renewable energy sources in gross inland energy consumption (GIEC) increased in the EU-27 from 4.2% in 1990 to 9.8% in 2010. The main contributor was biomass and wastes (6.7% of the GIEC in 2010), followed by hydro (1.8%) and wind (0.7%). The gross inland energy consumption from renewable increased at an annual average rate of 4.6%/year over the period 1990-2010 and accelerated (8.2%/year) from 2005 to 2010 (+12.7% in 2010). In 2010, the share of renewable energy in total gross inland energy consumption in EU-15 was 9.9%, which means that the 12% target of renewable by 2010 has not been reached.
In non EU EEA countries the share of renewable in gross inland energy consumption reached 19.8% in 2010. The gross inland energy consumption from renewable increased at an annual average growth rate of 1.4%/year. In these countries, there is also an acceleration in renewable energy consumption since 2005 (by 2.8%/year on average), but the total gross inland consumption continues to grow much faster (3.8%/year).
What is the contribution of renewable energy in gross inland energy consumption?
Contribution of renewable energy sources to primary energy consumption in the EU-27
Note: Contribution of renewable energy sources to primary energy consumption in the EU-27
- Energy statistics (Eurostat) provided by Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat)
Renewable energy in GIEC
- The contribution of renewable energy sources to gross inland energy consumption (GIEC) increased in the EU-27 from 4.2 % in 1990 to 9.8 % in 2010. The total consumption of renewable energy sources increased at an annual average growth rate of 4.6%/year. Between 2005 and 2010, the progression was almost twice faster (8.2%/year on average), while the gross inland energy consumption has been decreasing by 0.7%/year (see ENER 26).
- The main contributor was biomass and wastes (68.7% of the renewable energy consumption in 2010), followed by hydro (18.3%), wind (7.4%), geothermal (3.4%) and solar (2.1%). Between 1990 and 2010 the total renewable energy consumption more than doubled in the EU-27 (+144% corresponding to an average growth rate of 4.6 %/year). Wind and solar PV showed very high annual growth rates between 1990 and 2010 of 30% and 46% respectively, followed by solar thermal with 13.6%.
- In the EU-27, in 2010, around 50% of the biomass and wastes was consumed in 4 countries: Germany (22%), France (12%), Sweden (10%) and Finland 7%) with wood and wood wastes accounting for the bulk of this consumption (see Figure 2).
- In EU-27 as a whole, hydro consumption increased by 20% over the period 2005-2010 at an average annual growth rate of 3.7 %, of which 11.6% for the year 2010 (see Figures 1 and 3). However, the share of hydropower in renewable energy sources has decreased substantially since 1990 as a result of changing rainfall patterns. Energy consumption from hydropower is not expected to increase significantly in the future due to environmental concerns and a lack of suitable sites. For example, the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) places a strong emphasis on achieving a good environmental status of European rivers, hence future construction of new hydro-power plants (particularly small-scale hydro) will need to take these constraints into account. In 2010, hydropower was mainly produced in 4 countries in the EU-27: Sweden (18%), France (17%), Italy (14%) and Spain (12%).
- In EU-27 wind represented 7.4% of renewable energy consumption and 0.7% of GIEC in 2010 (see Figures 1 and 3). Between 2005 and 2010, wind energy grew by 112% in the EU-27, at an annual growth rate of 16.2% (12% in 2010). This development was largely due to strong growth in Spain and Germany, which together accounted for 55 % of all the EU-27 wind production in 2010 (respectively 29.6% and 25.4%).
- In EU-27 solar energy (both PV and solar thermal) accounted for 2.1 % of total renewable energy consumption and only 0.2 % of GEIC in 2010 (see Figures 1 and 3). Between 2005 and 2010, renewable energy from solar increased by a factor 4.5 in the EU-27 at an average annual growth rate of 36 %. Almost 70% of the solar consumption in 2010 came from two countries, Germany with 39% and Spain with 28%; these countries are followed by Italy (8%), Greece and Austria (5%). Solar PV is having the fastest progression among all renewable energy sources over all periods (see Figure 3). Recently however, Spain and Germany introduced significant adjustments downwards of the feed-in-tariff for these technologies. In 2010, Spain had the largest photovoltaic power station in the world (60 MWp Olmedilla Photovoltaic Park), which was completed in 2008. Germany is on the top of installed capacity with 24,875 MW in 2011 (almost 50% of the whole EU-27 capacity) and also for installed capacity per capita with 304 W. Italy has the second PV capacity in 2011 (12 764 MW, a factor 4 compared to 2010), followed by Spain (4214 MW) and France (2831 MW). In terms of power production, the share of countries is quite similar: Germany represents 52% of total EU production from PV (1 Mtoe or 11.7 TWh); it is followed by Spain with 29% (0.55 Mtoe or 6.4 TWh) and Italy with 9%.
- Between 2005 and 2010, the consumption of geothermal energy (both electricity and heat) increased by 10 % in the EU-27, at an average annual growth of 1.9 %. The use of geothermal schemes depends on the quality (temperature and density) of the heat available. Geothermal energy only contributed to 3.4 % of total renewable energy consumption and 0.3 % of GEIC in the EU-27 in 2010, with Italy accounting for around 81% of the total amount of geothermal energy (see Figures 1 and 3).
- The fastest progression in the share of renewables in total gross inland energy consumption since 2005 was mainly observed in countries such as Portugal (+9.8%), Spain and Denmark (+5.8% each), Austria (+5.6%) and Lithuania (+5.5%) (Figure 4).
- Between 1990 and 2010, the non-EU EEA countries showed an increase of 31% in total renewable energy consumption (annual average growth rate of 1.4%/year). Given the rapid progression of the total gross inland energy consumption in these countries (+71%), mainly driven by Turkey, the share of renewable energy in GIEC decreased from 25.7% in 1990 to 19.8 % in 2010. In 2010 around 53% of the renewable energy consumption is hydropower, followed by biomass and waste, which account for approximately 23% of the renewable energy consumption followed by geothermal with 22%.
 Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey
Indicator specification and metadata
The share of renewable energy consumption is the ratio between gross inland energy consumption from renewable sources (TOE) and total gross inland energy consumption (TOE) calculated for a calendar year, expressed as a percentage. Both renewable energy and total energy consumption are measured in thousand tonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe).
Renewable energy sources are defined as renewable non-fossil sources: wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, hydropower, biomass, landfill gas, sewage treatment plant gas and biogases.
Both, renewable energy and total primary energy consumption are measured in thousand tonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe). Therefore, the amount of renewable energy is measured in absolute value, but will be presented in the form of a percentage.
Policy context and targets
The share of electricity consumption from renewable energy sources provides a broad indication of progress towards reducing the environmental impact of electricity consumption on the environment as renewable electricity is generally considered to have lower life-cycle environmental impact per unit of electricity produced than fossil-fuelled power plants. Increasing the share of renewables in electricity consumption will help the EU to reduce the GHG emissions from power generation but the overall impact will depend on which generation sources are being replaced in the energy system.
Emissions of air 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 the 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 may have negative impacts on landscapes, habitats and ecosystems, although many impacts can be minimised through careful site selection. Hydropower schemes in particular can have adverse impacts including flooding, disruption of ecosystems and hydrology, and socio-economic impacts if resettlement is required (for large hydro). 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 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.
For the EU-15, the share of renewables in total gross inland energy consumption accounted for 9.9%, in 2010; thus the indicative target set in the White Paper on renewable energy (COM(97) 599 final) of 12 % by 2010 has not been reached (see Figures 1,2,3).
Council adopted on 6 April 2009 the climate-energy legislative package containing measures to fight climate change and promote renewable energy. This package is designed to achieve the EU's overall environmental target of a 20 % reduction in greenhouse gases and a 20 % share of renewable energy in the EU's total energy consumption by 2020.The climate action and renewable energy (CARE) package includes the following main policy documents
- 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
- Directive 2009/28/ EC of the European parliament and of the Council on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources
- 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
'Directive on GHG emissions of fuels and biofuels; COM(2007) 18 final/2'. Sets targets for the GHG emissions from different fuel types (e.g. by improving refinery technologies) and allows the blending of up to 10 % of biofuels into diesel and petrol.
'Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-plan); COM(2007) 723'. Focuses on increasing the competitiveness of new renewable energy technologies. It aims at identifying technologies that require better coordination of Member State policies or the development of public-private partnerships with the industry.
'White Paper: Energy for the future - renewable sources of energy; COM(97) 599 final'. Sets a target for the EU-15 countries for a share of 12 % RE in GEIC
'Directive on Waste; Directive 2006/12/EC'. It requires all EU Member States to take the necessary measures to ensure that waste is treated and disposed of correctly, sets targets for re-use and recycling, and requires Member States to draw up binding national programmes for waste prevention.
The European Commission published a White Paper in 1997 (COM(97) 599 final) setting out a Community strategy for achieving a 12% share of renewable in total gross inland energy consumption (GIEC) in the EU-15 by 2010. The decision was motivated by concerns about security of supply and environmental protection. The contribution of renewable energy sources to GEIC in EU-15 was 9.9 % in 2010, not reaching the 12% indicative target (see Figure 5 and Figure 4).
The 12% target was adopted in a 2001 directive on the promotion of electricity from renewable energy sources, which also included a 22.1% target for electricity for the EU-15. As can be seen in Figure 5 only five countries reached their target (Sweden, Austria, Finland, Portugal and Denmark). The other ten are still significantly below the target, especially the UK, Luxembourg, Ireland, Belgium, The Netherlands and Greece.
In January 2007, the Commission published a Renewable Energy Roadmap outlining a long-term strategy. It called for a mandatory target of a 20% share of renewable energies in the EU's energy mix by 2020. The target was endorsed by EU leaders in March 2007. To achieve this objective, the EU adopted a new Renewable Directive in April 2009 (2009/28/EC), which set individual targets for each member state.
Related policy documents
Directive on Waste
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
Community guidelines on state aid for environmental protection (2008/c 82/01)
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.
Climate action and renewable energy package (CARE Package)
Combating climate change is a top priority for the EU. Europe is working hard to cut its greenhouse gas emissions substantially while encouraging other nations and regions to do likewise.
Proposal for a 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.
Proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the effort of Member States to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to meet the Community’s greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments up to 2020.
COM(97) 599 final. Energy for the future.
Energy for the future: Renewable sources of energy. White Paper for a Community strategy and action plan. COM(97) 599 final.
COM(2007) 18 final
Directive on GHG emissions of fuels and biofuels; COM(2007) 18 final/2
Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-plan); COM(2007) 723
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
Directive 2003/30/EC, use of biofuels and renewable fuels
Promotion of the use of biofuels and other renewable fuels for transport. Directive 2003/30/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 May 2003 on the promotion of the use of biofuels and other renewable fuels for transport.
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
REGULATION (EC) No 443/2009 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL 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.
Methodology for indicator calculation
Methodology and frequency of data collection
Data collected annually.
Eurostat definitions and concepts for energy statistics http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_SDDS/en/nrg_quant_esms.htm
Methodology of data manipulation
Renewable energy consumption is the ratio between the gross inland energy consumption from renewable sources and the total gross inland energy consumption calculated for a calendar year.
The coding (used in the Eurostat New Cronos database) and specific components of the indicator are:
- Numerator: solar energy 5530 gross inland energy consumption 100900 + biomass and waste 5540 gross inland consumption 100900 + geothermal energy 5550 energy inland consumption 100900 + hydropower 5510 gross inland energy consumption 100900 + wind energy 5520 gross inland energy consumption 100900.
- Denominator: (total) gross energy inland consumption 100900
Average annual rate of growth calculated using: [(last year/base year) ^ (1/number of years) –1]*100
Solar-thermal: 100900 Gross inland energy consumption (5530 solar energy) – 100100 Primary production (5534 Photovoltaic power)
Report ‘Energy balances Non-OECD countries’ and ‘Energy balances OECD countries’, table ‘Energy balances (ktoe)’, products ‘Hydro’, ‘Geothermal’, ‘Solar/Wind/Other’, ‘Combustible renewables and waste’ and ‘Total’, flow ‘Total Primary Energy Supply’.
The Agency had 32 member countries at the time of writing of this Indicator. These are the 27 European Union Member States and Turkey, plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. No energy data available for Iceland in 2007-2010 (Iceland do not appear in the graphs or tables).
Data for World, United States, China, India, Russia, the Middle East and Africa.
Methodology for gap filling
No gap filling necessary.
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 indicator measures the relative consumption of energy from renewable sources in total energy consumption for a particular country. The share of renewable energy could increase even if the actual energy consumption from renewable sources falls. Similarly, the share could fall despite an increase in energy consumption from renewable sources. CO2 emissions depend not on the share of renewables but on the total amount of energy consumed from fossil sources. Therefore, from an environmental point of view, attaining the 2010 target for the share of renewable energy does not necessarily imply that CO2 emissions from energy consumption will fall.
Data sets uncertainty
Strengths and weaknesses (at data level)
Data have been traditionally 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 in Eurostat's web page for metadata on energy statistics. http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/ramon/nomenclatures/index.cfm?TargetUrl=LST_NOM&StrGroupCode=LEX_MANUAL&StrLanguageCode=EN
Energy data (IEA)
provided by International Energy Agency (IEA)
Energy statistics (Eurostat)
provided by Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat)
Energy (Primary topic)
Typology: Performance indicator (Type B - Does it matter?)
- CSI 030
- ENER 029
Contacts and ownership
EEA Contact InfoMihai Florin Tomescu
EEA Management Plan2012 2.8.1 (note: EEA internal system)
- 30 Apr 2012 - Renewable primary energy consumption
- 10 Aug 2011 - Renewable primary energy consumption
- 14 Sep 2010 - Renewable primary energy consumption
- 28 Apr 2008 - Renewable primary energy consumption
- 22 May 2007 - EN29 Renewable Energy
- 23 Mar 2007 - Renewable primary energy consumption
- 12 Apr 2006 - Renewable primary energy consumption
- 27 Sep 2005 - Renewable primary energy consumption
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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