Share of energy consumption from renewable sources in Europe

With a 21.3% share of energy consumed from renewable sources in 2020, the EU has reached its headline target (20%) for 2020, according to EEA early estimates. This success builds upon years of consistent work by all Member States, even if national progress is uneven. The exceptional circumstances of 2020, marked by disruptions in all economic sectors due to the pandemic, have facilitated meeting the renewable energy target by lowering total energy consumption. An unprecedented transformation in the energy system will still be necessary to meet the 32% renewable energy target set for 2030.

Published: ‒ 25min read

Figure 1. Progress towards renewable energy source targets since 2005
CountrySectorDateObsValue
EU-272020 target202020
EU-272030 target203032
EU-27Indicative Renewable Energy Directive trajectory200510.24
EU-27Indicative Renewable Energy Directive trajectory2006
EU-27Indicative Renewable Energy Directive trajectory2007
EU-27Indicative Renewable Energy Directive trajectory2008
EU-27Indicative Renewable Energy Directive trajectory2009
EU-27Indicative Renewable Energy Directive trajectory2010
EU-27Indicative Renewable Energy Directive trajectory201112.19
EU-27Indicative Renewable Energy Directive trajectory201212.19
EU-27Indicative Renewable Energy Directive trajectory201313.17
EU-27Indicative Renewable Energy Directive trajectory201413.17
EU-27Indicative Renewable Energy Directive trajectory201514.63
EU-27Indicative Renewable Energy Directive trajectory201614.63
EU-27Indicative Renewable Energy Directive trajectory201716.58
EU-27Indicative Renewable Energy Directive trajectory201816.58
EU-27Indicative Renewable Energy Directive trajectory202020
EU-27RES share200510.24
EU-27RES share200610.84
EU-27RES share200711.87
EU-27RES share200812.56
EU-27RES share200913.86
EU-27RES share201014.42
EU-27RES share201114.55
EU-27RES share201216.02
EU-27RES share201316.7
EU-27RES share201417.46
EU-27RES share201517.84
EU-27RES share201618.03
EU-27RES share201718.47
EU-27RES share201818.91
EU-27RES share201919.73
EU-27RES share202021.35
EU-27Linear 2030 trajectory202020
EU-27Linear 2030 trajectory202121.2
EU-27Linear 2030 trajectory202222.4
EU-27Linear 2030 trajectory202323.6
EU-27Linear 2030 trajectory202424.8
EU-27Linear 2030 trajectory202526
EU-27Linear 2030 trajectory202627.2
EU-27Linear 2030 trajectory202728.4
EU-27Linear 2030 trajectory202829.6
EU-27Linear 2030 trajectory202930.8
EU-27Linear 2030 trajectory203032
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An increase in the use of renewable energy has multiple benefits for society such as mitigating climate change, reducing the emission of air pollutants and improving energy security. 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.

The EU met its 2020 target, with renewable energy consumption increasing from 19.7% of gross final energy consumption in 2019 to 21.3% in 2020. This was driven by sustained growth in electricity generation from renewable energy sources (RESs), increasing from 34.1% to 37.3% in 2020. The share of renewable energy in transport and buildings (heating and cooling) also increased in the same period, albeit at a lower rate.

Since the RES share depends on the magnitude of the total, it is relevant to note that total gross final energy consumption decreased substantially between 2019 and 2020 (-6.1%) due to the impact of measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. Electricity generation from RESs was often prioritised because of lower operational costs and preferential dispatch.

Looking at the longer-term trends, the RES share more than doubled between 2005 and 2020, driven by dedicated policies and support schemes, as well as increased economic competitiveness. This was equivalent to an average annual increase of 0.74 percentage points. The increase seen in 2020 (of 1.6 percentage points) was the largest in the whole time series.

Despite the EU having met its 2020 target, sustained action remains necessary. COVID-related impacts are likely to be short lived unless backed by structural changes, and an unprecedented transformation is needed to meet the 32% 2030 target. Furthermore, the European Commission recently proposed an amendment of the Renewable Energy Directive with a more ambitious target of 40% by 2030, paving the way for carbon neutrality by 2050.

Figure 2. Progress towards renewable energy source targets, by country
Country2018 RES shareRES share 2018RES share 20192019 RES shareRES share 20202020 Target
Sweden56.3959.4649
Finland43.0843.7738
Latvia40.9741.3740
Austria33.6337.1434
Portugal30.6234.2531
Denmark37.2330.1230
Croatia28.4729.3320
Lithuania25.4627.2123
Estonia31.8925.9925
Slovenia21.9724.325
Romania24.2923.5324
Bulgaria21.5622.916
Greece19.6821.818
Spain18.3720.6620
Italy18.1819.7417
Germany17.3518.8618
France17.2218.3123
Czechia16.2417.1913
Slovakia16.8916.6514
Cyprus13.816.5713
Ireland1216.1816
Netherlands8.7714.0114
Hungary12.6113.7213
Belgium9.9212.9313
Poland12.1612.9115
Luxembourg7.0511.7111
Malta8.4910.210
EU-2719.7321.3520
Iceland78.278.4864
Norway74.6274.8867.5
United Kingdom12.3414.915

According to EEA early estimates, all but four of the 27 EU Member States saw an increase in their renewable energy shares between 2019 and 2020. Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands topped the list, having increased their renewable energy share by more than 4 percentage points in 2020. However, these three countries received statistical transfers from other Member States such as Denmark and Estonia which, in turn, show a significant decrease in their share compared to 2019. Excluding statistical transfers, Portugal, Austria and Sweden were the Member States that experienced the highest increase in the RES share in 2020 (over 3 percentage points).

To achieve the EU’s 20% renewable energy target for 2020, each country must work towards its own national target. It is estimated that 22 Member States reached their 2020 targets, as did Iceland and Norway. Belgium, Romania and Slovenia remain close to meeting the target (< 1 percentage point) and their status might change in the light of official statistics. France and Poland are the countries furthest away from their 2020 target (over 2 percentage points) and are unlikely to meet it.

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