Renewables continue to grow in the EU, but Member States need to step up ambition on energy savings

News Published 01 Dec 2016 Last modified 07 Dec 2016
2 min read
The EU Member States have lowered their energy consumption in recent years, despite a slight increase in 2015. At the same time, they use more and more renewable energy. Overall, the 28 Member States are collectively well on their way to meeting their 2020 targets on renewables, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions. However, continuing current trends will fall short of longer term objectives, according to a new European Environment Agency (EEA) assessment published today.

 Image © Leyla Emektar, Picture2050 /EEA

The way forward is clear: Member States must step up national ambition and efforts to achieve the 2020 and 2030 EU targets, and to keep the EU on a path to a low-carbon, competitive and circular economy by 2050.

Hans Bruyninckx, EEA Executive Director

The day after the European Commission proposed a package to boost clean energy, the EEA presented a new assessment of the progress made by EU Member States in meeting their existing 2020 targets on renewable energy and energy efficiency. This analysis is included in the report ‘Trends and Projections in Europe 2016: Tracking progress towards Europe climate and energy targets’. The EEA report is supported by country profiles on energy and climate, providing detailed data at national level.

‘Our report ‘Trends and projections in Europe 2016’ shows that the EU's 2020 targets on energy and climate are now well within reach. But certain trends are alarming, in particular for transport. In that sector, renewable energy use remains insufficient and greenhouse gas emissions are rising again,’ said Hans Bruyninckx, EEA Executive Director. ‘The way forward is clear: Member States must step up national ambition and efforts to achieve the 2020 and 2030 EU targets, and to keep the EU on a path to a low-carbon, competitive and circular economy by 2050.’

On track for 2020 targets

By 2020, 20 % of the EU’s gross final energy consumption should come from renewable sources. Preliminary estimates for 2015 show that the share of renewables in the EU’s final energy consumption continued to increase, reaching a level of 16.4 %. This is up from 16.0 % in 2014. Twenty two Member States (all except France, Ireland, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland and Portugal) are on track to achieve or exceed the levels of renewable energy set in their national action plans.

The EU’s 2020 target on energy efficiency corresponds to a 13 % reduction of primary energy consumption compared with the 2005 level. Preliminary estimates show that the EU’s energy consumption in 2015 was 11 % below 2005, despite a 1 % increase between 2014 and 2015. The EU remains on track to achieve its 2020 energy efficiency target. Except for Estonia, Malta and Sweden, all EU Member States are on course to meet their targets on primary energy consumption. However, Member States show an overall lack of ambition with regard to their 2020 energy efficiency targets.

More work needed for 2030 and 2050 goals

To achieve the more ambitious longer-term energy and decarbonisation goals set by the EU for 2050, current efforts will have to be considerably stepped up, according to the EEA report. The EU can achieve its 2030 target on renewables if the current pace across Europe is maintained. However, this will require additional efforts because regulatory changes affect investors’ confidence in renewables, while market barriers persist. Similarly, achieving the 2030 target on energy efficiency will require effective implementation of energy efficiency measures as well as a rapid change in consumer behaviour.

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European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
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Phone: +45 3336 7100