Increased renewable energy sources will help the EU transition towards a prosperous, sustainable, climate-compatible and independent economy. In recent years, Europe has been generating more renewable energy and a growing share of its energy consumption is met through renewable sources.

Energy services for heating and cooling, cooking, lighting, transport and manufacturing are vital for society’s functioning. Over the past two decades, renewable energy production and consumption have increased rapidly across the EU in response to dedicated policies and measures, and facilitated by rapid technological progress. As a result, greenhouse gas emissions across the EU energy system have decreased steadily since 1990, and the EU has achieved its 20% renewable energy target in 2020. 22.5% of energy consumed in the EU in 2022 was generated from renewable sources.

Solar panels on rooftops, electric cars and wind turbines on the horizon are becoming quite common and ordinary sights across Europe. Yet, fossil fuels remain the largest source of energy.

While not without impact, replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources like solar, wind and biomass, helps reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, as well as contributes to increasing Europe’s energy independence.

Renewable and clean energy will play a vital role in determining Europe's ability to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, while ensuring a steady supply of energy at affordable prices. Although already underway, the transition towards a clean and renewable energy system needs to speed up and transform key sectors, including transport, and put in place the infrastructure and governance needed. The European Green Deal and its policy initiatives, including RePowerEU, aim to facilitate this.

A transition toward renewables is already underway in the EU. Some highlights are shown below:

  • Renewable energy sources made up 22,5% of the EU’s final energy consumption in 2022.
  • In 2021, the 27 EU Member States recorded greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that were 30% below 1990 levels, largely thanks to the increase in renewable energy production.
  • The share of energy from renewable sources used for transport in the EU increased from under 2% in 2005 to 8.7% in 2022. This means that EU countries collectively reached the 10% target for the share of energy from renewable sources in the transport sector by 2020.
  • Switching to renewable energy sources for transport and heating has been more challenging than in the electricity sector.
  • New 2030 and 2050 targets will require rapid growth in renewable energy sources across all sectors.
  • Higher penetration of intermittent energy sources, such as wind and solar, will bring new challenges to the power grid.

Rapid, far-reaching unprecedented changes are necessary to prevent the atmosphere from warming by more than 1.5°C — starting with the energy system.

The European Green Deal is an ambitious EU roadmap and policy framework for actions that put Europe on a path towards sustainability by 2050. For the energy sector, the European Climate Law aims to make the EU climate neutral by 2050.

The revised Renewable Energy Directive also introduces a 32% binding minimum target for the share of renewables in the EU's gross final energy consumption by 2030. Member States have set national renewable energy targets for 2030 and must ensure that national fuel suppliers provide at least a 14% share of renewable energy in the total energy consumed in road and rail transport.

At the current rate, the prospects of meeting the existing 32% EU target for 2030 remain uncertain. Furthermore, in response to the hardships and global energy market disruption caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the European Commission presented the REPowerEU Plan. Among other measures, this plan proposes a more ambitious target of 45% by 2030, to pave the way for climate neutrality by 2050, but also to reduce dependency on imported fossil fuels.

The EEA publishes yearly data at country and European level on the uptake of renewable energy, as part of the Trends and Projections report.

Flexibility in Europe's power system

Flexibility is the power system’s ability to adjust to the fluctuating generation and consumption of energy. Flexibility can be provided in different timeframes, such as days, weeks or seasons and by different technologies. 

With the EU 2030 renewables target of 42.5% (compared with 22% in 2021), this decade will see an accelerated decarbonisation of EU electricity supply.

EU Member States need to massively ramp up their renewable power capacity in the coming years. This increase in renewables from variable sources, such as wind and solar, will also increase the need for ‘flexibility’ in the EU electricity system.

A joint report by two EU agencies, EEA and ACER, demonstrates how Member States could exploit collaboration synergies to unlock flexibility and enhance energy security while contributing to long-term climate neutrality. 

How much of our energy comes from renewable sources?

In 2022, 22,5% of the energy consumed in the EU was generated from renewable sources, according to our early estimates.

This slight increase compared to 2021, was largely driven by strong growth in solar power. The share is also amplified by a 2022 reduction in non-renewable energy consumption linked to high energy prices.

The share of renewables in Europe is expected to keep growing. However, 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.

Picture of ten wind energy windmills in a clear lake with a small boat visible on the bottom right and in a clear blue-sky setting.

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Picture of an electric fuel pump inside the side of an electric vehicle with the side car wheel visible in the left background.

Cleaner transport thanks to renewable energy?

The share of energy from renewable sources used for transport in the EU increased from under 2% in 2005 to 8.7% in 2022, according to preliminary European Environment Agency (EEA) data. This is 5.3 percentage points below the 2030 target for the share of renewable energy used in transport. 

Progress among the EU Member States varies significantly, with the share of energy from renewable sources used for transport ranging from 4.4% in Greece and Ireland to 30.8% in Sweden.

Climate and energy in the EU: progress towards climate neutrality by 2050

Picture taken vertically of solar panels on a rooftop under a cloudy blue sky.

Become a prosumer and help the EU switch to renewable energy

People, institutions and businesses can help deploy renewable energy and reduce fuel imports by becoming prosumers, who both produce and consume energy. For example, by installing solar panels on their roofs or by being part of an energy community, prosumers can lower their bills while supporting the energy transition. They can also provide other services to the power grid such as energy storage.

Prosumers still face many challenges, including costs, regulatory barriers, or lack of volunteers or expertise. However, opportunities for prosumers are growing with technological development and, importantly, an increasingly supportive EU policy framework. Prosumers are now a key element of the recent REPowerEU proposal and its Solar Rooftop initiative.

Renewable energy: benefits for climate and energy and interplay with air pollutant emissions

The EEA dashboard shows the estimated annual effects of the increased renewable energy sources consumption since 2005 on fossil fuels and grennhouse gases, but also on major air pollutant emissions.

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