Share of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption

Indicator Specification
Indicator codes: CSI 048 , ENER 028
Created 24 Nov 2015 Published 21 Dec 2015 Last modified 14 Dec 2018
17 min read
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Gross final renewable energy consumption is the amount of renewable energy consumed for electricity, heating and cooling, and transport in the EU Member States with actual and normalised hydropower and wind power generation  [1] , and expressed as the share of gross final energy consumption. The indicator was developed to measure the EU's progress towards achieving the 2020 and 2030 objectives on renewable energy. RED ( Directive 2009/28/EC)  commits the EU to reaching a 20 % share of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption  [2]  by 2020, and a 10 % share of RES-T by the same year.   It sets binding national targets for renewable energy consumption by 2020 and prescribes minimum indicative trajectories  for each country in the run-up to 2020 to ensure that national 2020 targets will be met. In addition, the directive requires Member States to adopt and publish NREAPs that outline the expected trajectories for their national shares of RESs for the years from 2010 to 2020. Countries submitted their NREAPs in 2010. They have an obligation to report biennially on national progress towards indicative RED and expected NREAP targets. Europe 2020: the EU’s 10-year growth strategy reaffirms the importance of the renewable energy sector for Europe. The target of a 20 % share of renewable energy in gross final consumption is one of the three headline targets for climate and sustainable energy under this strategy. The other EU-wide targets are the achievement of a 20 % reduction in the EU's greenhouse gas emissions compared with 1990, and a 20 % decrease in the EU's primary energy consumption compared with projections, both by 2020. Together, these represent the EU's triple 20/20/20 objectives for climate and energy in the run-up to 2020. They are implemented through the EU's 2009 climate and energy package and the 2012 Energy Efficiency Directive (EED). For 2030, EU leaders endorsed the following three EU-wide targets: achieving a binding minimum 40 % domestic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared with 1990; achieving a binding minimum 27 % share of renewable energy consumption; achieving an indicative minimum 27 % improvement in energy efficiency.  [1] In accordance with accounting rules under Directive 2009/28/EC, electricity generation from hydropower and wind power needs to be normalised to smooth the effects of annual variations (based on the 15-year average for hydropower and 5-year average for wind power). [2] Gross final energy consumption refers to the energy commodities delivered for energy purposes to industry, transport, households, services including public services, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, including the consumption of electricity and heat by the energy branch for electricity and heat production, and including losses of electricity and heat in distribution and transmission (cf. Article 2f of Directive 2009/28/EC). With this, it excludes transformation losses, which are included in gross inland energy consumption. In calculating a Member State's gross final energy consumption for the purpose of measuring its compliance with the targets and interim RED and NREAP trajectories, the amount of energy consumed in aviation will, as a proportion of that Member State's gross final consumption of energy, be considered to be no more than 6.18 % (4.12 % for Cyprus and Malta).

Assessment versions

Published (reviewed and quality assured)

Rationale

Justification for indicator selection

Renewable energy has several benefits over fossil fuels, including a reduction in greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions, fewer negative environmental and health impacts, and a reduced dependency on energy imports. Increasing the share of RESs in energy consumption will therefore reduce environmental pressures linked to the extraction and use of energy resources. The share of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption is one of the headline indicators of the Europe 2020 Strategy.

This indicator is closely linked with ENER 29, ENER 30 and ENER 38.

Scientific references

Indicator definition

Gross final renewable energy consumption is the amount of renewable energy consumed for electricity, heating and cooling, and transport in the EU Member States with actual and normalised hydropower and wind power generation [1], and expressed as the share of gross final energy consumption.

The indicator was developed to measure the EU's progress towards achieving the 2020 and 2030 objectives on renewable energy.

  • RED (Directive 2009/28/EC) commits the EU to reaching a 20 % share of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption [2] by 2020, and a 10 % share of RES-T by the same year. It sets binding national targets for renewable energy consumption by 2020 and prescribes minimum indicative trajectories for each country in the run-up to 2020 to ensure that national 2020 targets will be met. In addition, the directive requires Member States to adopt and publish NREAPs that outline the expected trajectories for their national shares of RESs for the years from 2010 to 2020. Countries submitted their NREAPs in 2010. They have an obligation to report biennially on national progress towards indicative RED and expected NREAP targets.
  • Europe 2020: the EU’s 10-year growth strategy reaffirms the importance of the renewable energy sector for Europe. The target of a 20 % share of renewable energy in gross final consumption is one of the three headline targets for climate and sustainable energy under this strategy. The other EU-wide targets are the achievement of a 20 % reduction in the EU's greenhouse gas emissions compared with 1990, and a 20 % decrease in the EU's primary energy consumption compared with projections, both by 2020. Together, these represent the EU's triple 20/20/20 objectives for climate and energy in the run-up to 2020.
    They are implemented through the EU's 2009 climate and energy package and the 2012 Energy Efficiency Directive (EED).
  • For 2030, EU leaders endorsed the following three EU-wide targets:
    • achieving a binding minimum 40 % domestic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared with 1990;
    • achieving a binding minimum 27 % share of renewable energy consumption;
    • achieving an indicative minimum 27 % improvement in energy efficiency. 

[1] In accordance with accounting rules under Directive 2009/28/EC, electricity generation from hydropower and wind power needs to be normalised to smooth the effects of annual variations (based on the 15-year average for hydropower and 5-year average for wind power).

[2] Gross final energy consumption refers to the energy commodities delivered for energy purposes to industry, transport, households, services including public services, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, including the consumption of electricity and heat by the energy branch for electricity and heat production, and including losses of electricity and heat in distribution and transmission (cf. Article 2f of Directive 2009/28/EC). With this, it excludes transformation losses, which are included in gross inland energy consumption. In calculating a Member State's gross final energy consumption for the purpose of measuring its compliance with the targets and interim RED and NREAP trajectories, the amount of energy consumed in aviation will, as a proportion of that Member State's gross final consumption of energy, be considered to be no more than 6.18 % (4.12 % for Cyprus and Malta).

Units

Gross final energy consumption, distribution losses, RES-E consumption, renewables consumed in heating and cooling, and renewables consumed in transport are all measured in 1 000 tonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe).

Policy context and targets

Context description

Environmental context

The share of RES consumption provides a broad indication of progress towards reducing the impact of energy consumption on the environment, since energy from renewable sources generally has a lower environmental impact per energy unit on a life-cycle basis, than energy sourced from fossil fuels. Increasing the share of renewables in energy consumption will help the EU to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power generation, but the overall impact will depend on the interactions between RES support frameworks and other policy frameworks, especially the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) Directive (2009/29/EC) that establishes a scheme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a cost-efficient way.

For example, it may be assumed that the development of RESs prevents greenhouse gas emissions and, to some extent, reduces primary energy production (because certain renewables are assumed to have a 100 % transformation efficiency, which statistically improves the overall conversion efficiency of the system). This helps meet not only the greenhouse gas target, but also the energy efficiency target. RED may also compensate, to a certain extent, for the impact of low EU allowance prices in the EU ETS by requiring Member States to increase their share of RESs via the introduction of RES-E support schemes at national level. In some cases, the introduction of feed-in tariffs in particular has helped support the innovation of less mature technologies. In certain cases, however, the overlap of policy instruments might also have less positive effects. For instance, although the ETS cap was set in a way that accounted for the expected greenhouse gas reduction effects induced by the binding RES targets until 2020, the overlap between establishing emissions caps under the ETS and setting RES targets introduces an element of uncertainty. Achieving an RES share in gross final energy consumption that is higher than the indicative RED target for a given period may result in additional gross avoided emissions [1]. These, for the most part, take place in the EU ETS, where they may free up more ETS allowances than initially anticipated [2] and further affect the carbon price signal in the EU ETS.

Emissions of air pollutants are also generally lower for RES-E production than for electricity produced from fossil fuels. The exception to this is the incineration of municipal and solid waste (which, because of the high cost of separation, usually involves the combustion of some mixed wastes including materials contaminated with heavy metals) and the combustion of biomass feedstock in inefficient appliances (such as certain household boilers). Emissions to the atmosphere from the incineration of municipal solid waste (MSW) are subject to stringent regulations including tight controls on emissions of cadmium, mercury and other such substances.

As with all energy resources, the exploitation of RESs may also have negative impacts on landscapes, habitats and ecosystems, though many impacts can be minimised through careful site selection. Some types of biomass and biofuel crops have considerable land, water and agricultural input requirements such as fertilisers and pesticides. Hydropower schemes can have adverse effects including flooding, disruption of ecosystems and hydrology, and socio-economic impacts if resettlement is required (for large hydropower schemes). Some solar PV 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 in the areas in which they are sited. On the other hand, offshore wind farms can have a positive impact on the marine environment. They can provide regeneration areas for fish and benthic populations. This can be explained not only by reduced trawling activities, but also because offshore wind farm foundations function as an artificial reef, encouraging the creation of new habitats [3].

[1] Gross avoided greenhouse gas emissions in the EU result from the substitution by renewable energy of more greenhouse-gas-intensive forms of energy production in the energy mix.

[2] Emission reductions achieved through RES-E schemes are often associated with abatement costs above the ETS price and, therefore, may affect the static efficiency of the policy instrument mix.

[3] European Wind Energy Association, 2012, Positive environmental impacts of offshore wind farms (www.ewea.org).

Targets

Policy targets for 2020

RED commits the EU to reaching a 20 % share of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption by 2020 and a 10 % share of renewable energy consumed in transport by the same year. It sets binding national targets for renewable energy consumption by 2020 and requires Member States to adopt and publish NREAPs [1] that outline how each country plans to reach its legally binding 2020 renewable energy target. The directive also provides options for cooperation to help countries achieve their targets cost effectively, and puts forward a set of sustainability criteria for biofuels.

If all national commitments adopted by countries in the 2010 NREAPs are fulfilled, the EU should slightly overachieve its 2020 RED target. According to the NREAP commitments, the share of RES consumption at the EU level should increase more quickly from 2013 to 2018 than in the indicative trajectory set in RED.

An analysis [2] of the EU-28 countries' NREAPs shows that renewable energy output is projected to grow by 6 % per year on average. Wind power, solar electricity and biofuels are foreseen to have the highest growth rates. If all Member States follow the trajectory outlined in their plans, the EU will exceed its 20 % renewable energy target by 1 percentage point.

Further growth to achieve the 20 % target will depend on the further fine-tuning of existing policy frameworks, improved market conditions for grid access to renewable sources and the full implementation of a guarantee of origin system to allow further development of the renewable consumer market. In addition, better and more integrated planning will be required to ensure not only a high efficiency of investment and an accelerated pace of development, but also that the penetration of these sources takes place in a manner that would minimise the environmental impact within and outside the EU.

[1] NREAPs were submitted by 30 June 2010 and thereafter national progress reports have been submitted.

[2] Based on an analysis of NREAPs by the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) (ECN, 2011, Renewable energy projections as published in the National Renewable Energy Action Plans of the European Member States — Covering all 27 EU Member States, available at: http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/figures/national-renewable-energy-action-plan/nreap_draft_report_eea-ecn_20100830.pdf).

Use of flexible mechanisms as provided by the Renewable Energy Directive

Flexible and cooperative measures to help countries achieve their renewable energy targets in a cost-effective manner and without undermining market stability are foreseen in RED [1]: statistical transfers, joint projects and joint support schemes. In addition, Member States can also import RES-E from third countries outside the EU ('joint projects between Member States and third countries').

- Member States may agree on the statistical transfer of a specified amount of renewable energy between themselves. Renewable energy is thus virtually transferred to the statistics of another Member State, counting towards the national RES target of the latter Member State.

- Joint projects are RES-E or -H&C projects between two or several Member States; one Member State may provide financial support for a RES project in another country and count (part of) the project’s energy production towards its own target. Member States can also cooperate on any type of joint project relating to the production of renewable energy, involving private operators if they like.

- In the case of joint support schemes, two or more Member States may decide, on a voluntary basis, to join or partly coordinate their national support schemes in order to help achieve their targets. In such cases, a certain amount of energy from renewable sources produced in the territory of one participating Member State may count towards the national overall target of another participating Member State.

According to the Member States' forecasts in their NREAPs, a number of countries are projected to have a surplus in 2020, compared with their binding target. This surplus could be available to transfer to a Member State that falls short of its target, through the use of the directive's cooperation mechanisms.

[1] The directive uses the term 'cooperation mechanisms' instead of 'flexibility mechanisms' in order to distinguish these mechanisms from the Kyoto flexible mechanisms.

Related policy documents

  • 2008/c 82/01
    Community guidelines on state aid for environmental protection (2008/c 82/01)
  • 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.
  • COM (2011) 112 - A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050
    With its "Roadmap for moving to a competitive low-carbon economy in 2050" the European Commission is looking beyond these 2020 objectives and setting out a plan to meet the long-term target of reducing domestic emissions by 80 to 95% by mid-century as agreed by European Heads of State and governments. It shows how the sectors responsible for Europe's emissions - power generation, industry, transport, buildings and construction, as well as agriculture - can make the transition to a low-carbon economy over the coming decades.
  • COM(2007) 723
    Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-plan); COM(2007) 723
  • COM(2008) 781
    COM(2008) 781 final - Second Strategic Energy Review
  • 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”
  • COM(2013) 175 final
    Report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions,  Renewable energy progress report. Brussels, 27 March 2013, COM(2013) 175 final.  {SWD(2013) 102 final}
  • COM(2014) 15 final A policy framework for climate and energy in the period from 2020 to 2030
    Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions "A policy framework for climate and energy in the period from 2020 to 2030". 22 January 2014, COM(2014) 15 final; {SWD(2014) 15 final}, {SWD(2014) 16 final}.  This Communication p resents an integrated policy framework with binding EU-wide targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions and the development of renewable energy sources and with objectives for energy efficiency improvements for the period up to 2030.
  • 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 2006/12/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2006 on waste
    Directive on  Waste
  • 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
  • EU Council Conclusion SN79/14 on 2030 Climate and Energy Framework
    EU Council conclusions of 23 October 2014 on 2030 Climate and Energy Framework

Key policy question

What progress has been made towards the EU’s 20 % renewable energy consumption target for 2020?

Specific policy question

Has the consumption of renewable electricity, renewable energy for heating and cooling, and renewable energy for transport increased in EEA countries?

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

Technical information

  1. This indicator contains both primary (from the Eurostat database (http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat) and SHARES tool results) and secondary data calculated by the EEA.
  2. Description of data/indicator definition:
    Gross final renewable energy consumption is the amount of renewable energy consumed for electricity, heating and cooling, and transport in the EU Member States with actual and normalised hydropower and wind power generation, and expressed as the share of gross final energy consumption.
    In accordance with the rules set under RED, electricity generation from hydropower and wind power must be normalised to smooth the effect of weather-related variations. In the case of hydropower, the normalisation is based on the ratio of electricity generation to the installed capacity averaged over 15 years; in the case of wind power, a similar normalisation formula is applied over 5 years.
  3. Geographical coverage:
    The EEA has 33 member countries. These are the 28 EU Member States plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey. Some of the non-EU member countries are not, or only partially covered in this indicator because of a lack of data for recent years.

  4. Methodology and frequency of data collection: data collected annually.
    Eurostat definitions and concepts for energy statistics can be found online (http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Energy).

  5. Methodology of data manipulation — the share of RESs as a percentage of gross final energy consumption: 
    The renewable energy share data used for this indicator are taken directly from the Eurostat SHARES tool. The SHARES tool focuses on the harmonised calculation of the share of energy from renewable sources among EU Member States. This is done according to the RED guidelines and is based on national energy data reported to Eurostat.
    The SHARES tool, detailed results and manual are available online (https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/energy/data/shares).

Methodology for gap filling

In circumstances where data for one or more of the non-EU-28 EEA countries are unavailable, predictions based on previous years' values and percentage changes in reporting nations has been used.

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

Indicator uncertainty (historic data)

Biomass and biowaste, 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, MSW and biofuels. MSW comprises biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes produced by different sectors. Non-biodegradable municipal and solid wastes are not considered renewable, but current data availability does not allow the non-biodegradable content of wastes to be identified separately, except for in industry.

As a result, the electricity produced from hydropower storage systems is not classified as a renewable source of energy in terms of electricity production, but is considered part of the gross electricity consumption of a country. Hydropower and wind power generation is calculated as actual generation and normalised generation. Normalised generation is calculated using the weighted average load factor over the last 15 years, for hydro, or 5 years, for wind.

The indicator measures the consumption of energy from renewable sources relative to total energy consumption for a particular country. The share of renewable energy use could increase even if actual energy consumption from renewable sources falls. Similarly, the share could fall despite an increase in energy consumption from renewable sources. Carbon dioxide (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 2020 target for the share of renewable energy does not necessarily imply that CO2 emissions from energy consumption will fall.

Electricity consumption within a national territory includes imports of electricity from neighbouring countries. It also excludes 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 RES-E. Impacts on the (national) environment are also affected, since emissions are taken into account for the country in which the electricity is produced, whereas consumption is taken into account for the country in which the electricity is consumed.

Overall scoring — historic data (1 = no major problems, 3 = major reservations):

  • Relevance: 1
  • Accuracy: 1
  • Comparability over time: 1
  • Comparability over space: 1

Data sets uncertainty

Strengths and weaknesses (at data level):

Data have been traditionally compiled by Eurostat using annual joint questionnaires, which are 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 web page on metadata on energy statistics (http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Energy). 

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

Mihai Florin Tomescu

Ownership

European Environment Agency (EEA)

Identification

Indicator code
CSI 048
ENER 028
Specification
Version id: 4
Primary theme: Energy Energy

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year

Classification

DPSIR: Response
Typology: Policy-effectiveness indicator (Type D)

Related content

Data references used

Data used

Latest figures and vizualizations

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