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Share of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption in Europe

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-125-en
  Also known as: CSI 048 , ENER 028
Created 16 Dec 2019 Published 19 Dec 2019 Last modified 19 Dec 2019
25 min read
Topics:
The share of renewable energy in gross final energy use in the EU has doubled since 2005. It reached 17.6 % in 2017 and increased further to 18.0 % in 2018, according to the early estimates from the European Environment Agency (EEA). The increase in the share of renewable energy sources in final energy consumption has slowed down in recent years. Increasing energy consumption and lack of progress in the transport sector compromise the chances of achieving both 2020 targets on renewable energy and energy efficiency at EU level. In 2018, according to the EEA's early estimates: progress towards national targets improved across the EU, with 24 Member States (all but France, Ireland, the Netherlands and Poland) meeting or exceeding their indicative targets set under the Renewable Energy Directive, compared with 21 Member States on target in 2017. In addition, 16 Member States (all except Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain) reached or exceeded the trajectories set in their own National Renewable Energy Action Plans, the same as in 2017; 12 countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Sweden) had already managed to achieve their binding renewable energy share targets for 2020, as set under the Renewable Energy Directive; renewable energy accounted for 30.7 % of gross final electricity consumption, 19.5 % of energy consumption for heating and cooling, and 7.6 % of transport fuel consumption in the whole EU.

Key messages

  • The share of renewable energy in gross final energy use in the EU has doubled since 2005. It reached 17.6 % in 2017 and increased further to 18.0 % in 2018, according to the early estimates from the European Environment Agency (EEA).
  • The increase in the share of renewable energy sources in final energy consumption has slowed down in recent years. Increasing energy consumption and lack of progress in the transport sector compromise the chances of achieving both 2020 targets on renewable energy and energy efficiency at EU level.
  • In 2018, according to the EEA's early estimates:
    • progress towards national targets improved across the EU, with 24 Member States (all but France, Ireland, the Netherlands and Poland) meeting or exceeding their indicative targets set under the Renewable Energy Directive, compared with 21 Member States on target in 2017. In addition, 16 Member States (all except Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain) reached or exceeded the trajectories set in their own National Renewable Energy Action Plans, the same as in 2017;
    • 12 countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Sweden) had already managed to achieve their binding renewable energy share targets for 2020, as set under the Renewable Energy Directive;
    • renewable energy accounted for 30.7 % of gross final electricity consumption, 19.5 % of energy consumption for heating and cooling, and 7.6 % of transport fuel consumption in the whole EU.

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

    Progress towards renewable energy source targets at Member State and EU-28 levels

    ENER028
    Data sources: Explore chart interactively

    Progress towards renewable energy source targets by country

    Chart 1a
    Data sources: Explore chart interactively

    Progress at EU level

    The EU-wide share of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption [1] remains in line with the indicative trajectory set in EU legislation for the years up to 2020. The EU's share of renewable energy sources (RES) in gross final energy consumption increased from 16.7 % in 2015 to 17.6 % in 2017, and to an estimated 18.0 % in 2018, according to the European Environment Agency's (EEA’s) early estimates.

    Steady progress in terms of RES has so far enabled the EU to meet the indicative trajectory path under the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) (see Fig. 1). However, the annual increase in the share of energy from renewable sources has decreased in recent years, due especially to the increase in final energy consumption since 2015. If energy consumption from all sources continues to increase, it could jeopardise the achievement of both renewable energy and energy efficiency targets at EU level.

    The share of renewable energy in transport (RES-T) [2] reached about 8 % in the EU in 2017, having increased from a very low level in 2005 (2.9 %). In accordance with RED targets, by 2020 the share of RES-T, across the EU, must reach 10 %. To prevent potential negative impacts on climate, the environment and interactions with food production from land use (e.g. when natural forests and food crops are displaced by biofuels), only certified biofuels and bioliquids, which comply with the sustainability criteria under the RED, can be counted towards RED targets. Certification is carried out through voluntary schemes recognised by the European Commission and through national systems set up by Member States. Not all countries have shown compliance for all biofuels from 2011 onwards; in such cases, these biofuels have not been included in the figures for those years.


    Progress at country level

    The RES shares continue to vary widely among countries, ranging from over 30 % of gross final energy consumption, in countries such as Austria, Denmark, Finland, Latvia and Sweden, to below 10 %, in Belgium, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands (see Fig. 2).

    In 2018, according to the EEA's early estimates:

      • progress towards national targets improved across the EU, with 24 Member States (all but France, Ireland, the Netherlands and Poland) meeting or exceeding their indicative targets set under the Renewable Energy Directive, compared with 21 Member States on target in 2017. In addition, 16 Member States (all except Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain) reached or exceeded the trajectories set in their own National Renewable Energy Action Plans, the same as in 2017;
      • 12 countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Sweden) had already managed to achieve their binding renewable energy share targets for 2020, as set under the Renewable Energy Directive;
      • renewable energy accounted for 30.7 % of gross final electricity consumption, 19.5 % of energy consumption for heating and cooling, and 7.6 % of transport fuel consumption in the whole EU.


    Between 2005 and 2017, the largest increases in the share of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption were observed in Denmark (+19.8 percentage points), Sweden (+14.0 percentage points), Finland (+12.2 percentage points), Estonia (+11.8 percentage points) and Italy (+10,7 percentage points).

    The shares of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption [3] across non-EU EEA countries are as follows: 70.8 % in Norway in 2017 (linked to the high share accounted for by hydropower), 71.6 % in Iceland in 2017 (linked to the high shares accounted for by geothermal energy and hydropower), 13.6 % in Turkey (2015 data) and 22.0 % in Switzerland (2010 data).

    In 2017, all countries in Europe had renewable energy policies and support schemes for renewables in place. According to the Commission’s 2017 biennial progress report on renewable energy, based on national progress reports, Member States use various forms of support schemes to promote the use of renewable energy, such as feed-in tariffs, feed-in premiums, auction/tender systems and quota obligations [4].

    The RED also provides cooperation mechanisms to enable Member States to achieve their national 2020 renewable energy targets. Until now, these cooperation mechanisms have rarely been used: Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Sweden and Norway are the only countries to have reported statistical transfers and joint undertakings in the context of the RED. In July 2016, Denmark and Germany signed a cooperation agreement on the mutual opening of auctions for solar photovoltaic (PV) installations — an agreement made with a view to opening up support schemes to cross-border participation. Estonia, Lithuania and Luxembourg signed agreements in 2017, in which Estonia and Lithuania agreed to make statistical transfers of renewable energy to Luxembourg to help the latter reach its 2020 target of 11 %.

    According to the latest progress reports on renewable energy submitted by Member States in 2017, over half of the Member States expect to produce more energy from renewable sources than planned, for at least 1 year, until 2020. These Member States could, in principle, transfer any excesses to other Member States experiencing deficits. To contribute to a more harmonised approach in supporting renewables across the EU, in 2014 the European Commission published Guidelines on state aid for environmental protection and energy for the period until 2020.

     

    [1] The Renewable Energy Directive (2009/28/EC) defines gross final energy consumption as the energy commodities delivered for energy purposes to final consumers (industry, transport, households, 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. 

    [2] The share of renewable energy in transport is defined in Article 3 of the Renewable Energy Directive on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources.

    [3] Normalised consumption for these countries was calculated according to the requirements of the Renewable Energy Directive.

    [4] More information can be found in the RES progress reports, available on the European Commission's website, and in the RES-Legal database and the database of the World Energy Council on policies and measures.

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

    Share of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption

    Chart