The share of energy consumed in the EU during 2022 generated from renewable sources was 23%. This increase, from a level of 21.9% in 2021, was largely driven by a strong growth in solar power. The share is also amplified by a 2022 reduction in non-renewable energy consumption linked to high energy prices, however renewables in Europe are expected to keep growing. Meeting the new target of 42.5% for 2030 will demand more than doubling the rates of renewables deployment seen over the past decade, and requires a deep transformation of the European energy system.

Figure 1. Progress towards renewable energy source targets for EU-27

Growth in the use of renewable energy sources (RES) has diverse benefits for society such as mitigating climate change, reducing the emission of air pollutants and improving energy security. The revised Renewable Energy Directive increases the binding target from 32% to a 42.5% share of renewables in the EU energy consumption, with the aim of achieving 45%. Each Member State will contribute to this common target, while no targets were introduced for individual countries.

According to Eurostat, the share of renewable energy in the EU increased by 1.2 percentage points to 23% in 2022. Although this total RES share represents a historical high, the growth rate of renewables has slowed since 2020 (figure 1). In absolute values, gross final consumption of renewables grew by 5 million tonnes oil equivalent (Mtoe) between 2021 and 2022, driven by a substantial increase in solar power generation by 28% and wind power by 6.6%. Non-renewables saw a significant reduction of 2.9% linked to high gas prices and nuclear shutdowns. This in turn increased the relative share of renewables in the EU gross final energy consumption.

The highest penetration of renewables in 2022 occurred in the power sector, with 41.2% of all electricity generated from renewable sources. It was followed by the heating and cooling sector (24.9%) and transport (9.6%).

Eurostat also reveals that solid biomass is the largest among renewable energy sources, which could have implications in terms of carbon sinks and biodiversity. Solid biomass is widely used in electricity generation, industry and residential heating. It represented 40% of the total renewable energy supply in Europe in 2022, followed by wind (15%), hydropower (10%) and liquid biofuels (7%). Contributions from heat pumps and solar photovoltaics are growing rapidly, each representing around 7% of all EU renewable supply. Other significant renewables sources were biogases, renewable waste, geothermal and solar thermal.

Looking at the longer-term trends, the RES share more than doubled between 2005 and 2022. This was driven by dedicated policies and support schemes, as well as increased economic competitiveness of renewables. The increase represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.7% over the last decade.

Modelling from the IEA and Ember indicate that reaching the new 42.5% target might be feasible if fast and decisive action is taken to promote renewables and reduce energy consumption. The rapid deployment of solar photovoltaics and heat pumps also provides optimism. However, reaching the target will require a very challenging CAGR of 8% on the share until 2030, which is more than double the observed rate over the last 10 years. Considering this, it is unlikely but still uncertain that the EU will meet its target unless a deep transformation of the EU energy system takes place this decade, encompassing all sectors.

Figure 2. Share of energy from renewable sources, by country

Sweden, Finland and Latvia had the highest RES share among Member States in 2022. All three countries have strong hydropower industries and wide use of solid biofuels. Ireland and Malta reported the lowest penetration of renewables, representing around 13% of their respective total energy consumption.

Over time, Sweden, Denmark and Estonia have experienced the highest growth in RES shares, with more than 20 percentage points increase since 2005. Romania and Slovenia, on the contrary, have seen an increase of less than seven percentage points between 2005 and 2022.

On a shorter timescale, 22 of the 27 EU Member States saw an increase in their renewable energy shares between 2021 and 2022. Finland and Sweden topped the list, having increased their RES share by more than three percentage points in 2022. In contrast, the RES share of Croatia decreased by more than three percentage points compared to 2021.

In the European Economic Area, Norway and Iceland both have RES shares above 70%. The two countries generate most of their electricity from hydropower while, in Iceland, geothermal energy provides the majority of heating.