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Indicator Assessment

Share of energy consumption from renewable sources in Europe

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-125-en
  Also known as: CSI 048 , ENER 028
Published 30 Mar 2021 Last modified 10 Jun 2021
1 min read
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The EU is close to reaching its target of 20% of energy consumed coming from renewable sources by 2020, but progress at the national level is uneven. Renewable energy consumption increased from 18.9% to 19.7% of total energy consumption from 2018 to 2019, and 14 Member States had reached their 2020 targets by 2019. More action was necessary in several Member States to ensure that the EU remained on track to meet the 2020 target, particularly in France, Ireland and the Netherlands. Furthermore, an unprecedented transformation in the energy system will be necessary to meet the 32% target set for 2030.

Progress towards renewable energy source targets since 2005

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An increase in the use of renewable energy has multiple benefits for society. Reducing greenhouse gas and other air pollutant emissions leads to less dangerous climate change, and fewer and less significant impacts on the environment and health, as well as decreasing the dependency on energy imports, especially fossil fuels. The EU had set the goal of ensuring that 20 % of its gross final energy consumption came from renewable sources by 2020, increasing to 32 % by 2030 (EU, 2009, 2018).

Renewable energy consumption increased from 18.9 % of gross final energy consumption in 2018 to 19.7 % in 2019 in the 27 EU Member States. This was driven by sustained growth in electricity generation from renewable energy sources (RESs), increasing from 32.2 % to 34.1 % in 2019. By contrast, the share of renewable energy in transport increased only marginally in the same period.

Since the renewable energy share depends on the magnitude of total energy consumption, it is relevant to note that total gross final energy consumption decreased slightly between 2018 and 2019 (-0.9 %), meaning that the consumption of energy from non-renewable sources decreased in both relative and absolute terms.

Between 2005 and 2019, the renewable energy share almost doubled, driven by dedicated policies and support schemes, as well as increased economic competitiveness (EEA, 2019). This was equivalent to an average annual increase of 0.7 percentage points. The increase seen in 2019 (of 0.8 percentage points) was the largest in 7 years.

Although the EU has made progress, sustained action remains necessary. Measures to contain COVID-19 are likely to have had an impact on the 2020 renewable energy share. Electricity consumption decreased substantially during the lockdowns in many European countries, and electricity generation from RESs was often prioritised because of lower operational costs. No assertions can be made until official statistics become available, but initial reports support this (IEA, 2020). COVID-related impacts are likely to be short lived unless backed by structural changes, however, and unprecedented transformational action is needed to meet the 32 % 2030 target and the overall goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

 

Progress towards renewable energy source targets, by country

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All but three of the 27 EU Member States saw an increase in their renewable energy shares between 2018 and 2019. Slovakia, Finland and Estonia topped the list, having increased their renewable energy share by more than 1.9 percentage points in 2019. Hungary’s share remained almost unchanged, however, and in Cyprus and Austria the increase in renewables did not match the growth in total consumption, resulting in a slight decrease in the share. Despite a large growth in RES consumption in Luxembourg in 2019, the absence of statistical transfers from other Member States led to a drop in the final share compared to 2018.

To achieve the EU’s 2020 renewable energy target, each country must work towards its own national target. In 2019, 14 Member States (Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Sweden) had reached their 2020 targets, as had Iceland and Norway. Thirteen Member States still needed to increase their share of renewable energy between 2019 and 2020 to reach their targets. In 2019, the three Member States furthest from meeting their targets were France, Ireland and the Netherlands.

Supporting information

Indicator definition

This indicator measures the EU’s progress towards achieving its 2020 and 2030 renewable energy targets. Gross final renewable energy consumption is the amount of renewable energy consumed for electricity, heating and cooling, and transport in the 27 EU Member States using actual and normalised hydropower and wind power generation, and is expressed as a share of gross final energy consumption.

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 transmission and distribution.

Figure 1 shows consumption of energy from renewable sources (including only certified biofuels complying with the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) sustainability criteria) as a proportion of gross final energy consumption, the indicative RED trajectory towards the 2020 target, the indicative 2020 target and the 2030 target. It should be noted that the official 2020 targets refer to the EU-27 plus the United Kingdom and to individual Member States. The same target 20 % target has been used for the EU-27 in this indicator.

For more information, please refer to the annual EEA's, Trends and projections in Europe and Renewable energy in Europe reports. 

Figure 2 shows the consumption of energy from renewable sources as a proportion of gross final energy consumption by country. It illustrates the progress made by the EU, its Member States and other EEA member countries with respect to their binding renewable energy targets for 2020.

Units

% of energy consumed coming from renewable sources 


 

Policy context and targets

Context description

The RED (2009/28/EC) and its recast directive (2018/2001/EU) establish an overall policy for the production of energy from renewable sources and the promotion of its use in the EU. These directives committed the EU to the target of ensuring that 20 % of its gross final energy consumption came from renewable energy sources by 2020 and that 10 % of final energy consumption in transport came from renewable sources by the same year. The 20 % target is one of three headline targets under the Europe 2020 strategy, the others being a 20 % reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, compared with 1990, and a 20 % decrease in primary energy consumption compared with projections by 2020. The targets for 2030 are a minimum 40 % reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, compared with 1990, a minimum 32 % share of renewable energy consumption in gross final energy consumption and a minimum 32.5 % improvement in energy efficiency.

Achieving the targets depended 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 market penetration of these renewable sources takes place in a manner that minimises the environmental impact within and outside the EU-27.

The share of renewable energy consumption in final energy consumption is a broad indicator of progress towards reducing the impact of energy consumption on the environment (i.e. through decreased greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutant emissions). However, significant impacts of increasing renewable energy consumption are felt on landscapes, habitats and ecosystems, namely from construction, the use of water, the use of fertilisers and pesticides for biomass and biofuel crops, and the extraction of heavy metals for photovoltaic cells; these impacts must also be considered.

Replacing fossil fuels with renewables results in lower carbon emissions. However, total carbon emissions are not necessarily determined by the share of renewable energy in final energy consumption, but by the total amount of energy consumed from fossil sources. Therefore, from an environmental point of view, attaining the renewable energy targets does not necessarily mean that CO2 emissions from energy consumption will fall (e.g. if the growth in energy consumption is supported by renewables but fossil fuel use remains stable, the renewable energy share will grow but carbon emissions will not decrease).

Targets

Official 2020 targets refer to the EU-27 plus the United Kingdom and individual Member States. The same 20 % target has been used for the EU-27. The indicative trajectory at EU level is calculated from all national indicative RED trajectories.

Related policy documents

  • Directive (EU) 2018/2001
    Directive (EU) 2018/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2018 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources
  • 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
 

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

Eurostat data

The renewable energy share data used for 2005-2019 were taken directly from the Eurostat SHARES tool. The SHARES tool focuses on the harmonised calculation of the share of energy consumption from renewable sources among the 27 EU Member States. This is done in accordance with 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).

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. The Shares tool takes into account all biofuels consumed in transport between 2005 and 2010, and only biofuels certified as being in compliance with the RED sustainability criteria for the years starting from 2011.

With regard to the calculation of the gross final energy consumption for Cyprus and Malta, the derogation in RED was used. This derogation allows these countries to consider the amount of energy consumed in aviation, as a proportion of their gross final energy consumption, to be no more than 4.12 %.

Proxy data

This indicator will be updated with early estimates (proxies) for the year 2020. More information can be found on the EEA proxies web page.

Methodology for gap filling

No gap filling was required for this indicator.

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

 

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

Data for 2015-2019 were 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.

This indicator will be updated in autumn with 2020 early estimates elaborated by the EEA.

Notes on uncertainties in the underlying statistics and methodology:

Biomass and bio-waste, 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 renewable, but current data availability does not allow the non-biodegradable content of wastes to be identified separately, except in industry.

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 are calculated as actual generation and normalised generation. Normalised generation is calculated using the weighted average load factor over the last 15 years for hydropower and the last 5 years for wind power.

The indicator measures the consumption of energy from renewable sources relative to total energy consumption for a particular country. The share of renewable energy 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.

Electricity consumption within a national territory includes imports of electricity from neighbouring countries. It 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 electricity from RESs. 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.

 

Data sets uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Data sources

Other info

DPSIR: Response
Typology: Policy-effectiveness indicator (Type D)
Indicator codes
  • CSI 048
  • ENER 028
Frequency of updates
Updates are scheduled once per year
EEA Contact Info info@eea.europa.eu

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Filed under: renewable energy, energy
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