Use of renewable energy for transport in Europe

The share of energy from renewable sources used for transport in the EU increased from under 2% in 2005 to 10.2% in 2020. This means that, collectively, the EU countries reached the 10% target for the share of energy from renewable sources in the transport sector. However, progress varies among EU Member States; this target was achieved by less than half of EU Member States. The overall EU target was reached thanks to overachievement in a handful of countries.

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In 2009, the Renewable Energy Directive (RED; 2009/28/EC) set the target for each Member State, whereby 10% of all energy used in transport should be from renewable sources by 2020. The RED also introduced sustainability criteria and, since 2011, only biofuels that comply with these criteria count towards the renewable energy share.

In 2020, 10.2% of the total energy used in transport in the EU was from renewable sources, following a steady increase in this share since 2005, when it was just under 2%. This indicates that the 2020 target of 10% was reached at the EU level. The increase was mainly the result of an expansion in the use of biofuels across Europe: between 2011 and 2020, the amount of energy that came from RED-compliant biofuels and was used in transport more than doubled . Meanwhile, the electrification of road and rail transport has played a small role in the progress made so far.

In 2018, the new RED, known as RED II, strengthened the sustainability criteria for bioenergy and set a new goal for 2030, increasing the target for the share of renewable energy used in transport to 14% by 2030. As part of the Fit-for-55 package, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a revision of RED II, which proposes a greenhouse gas intensity reduction target for 2030, instead of a target to reach a certain share of renewables.

The extent of progress varies among Member States. According to data from Eurostat, only 12 EU countries appear to have achieved the 2020 target of 10% (Sweden, Finland, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Estonia, Hungary, Belgium, Slovenia, Italy, Malta, Austria and Ireland).

Sweden, which has the highest share of energy from renewable sources in transport, has ambitious targets for the transport sector and uses energy and carbon taxes to achieve these targets: a carbon tax on fuels has been in place since 1991 and exemptions and reductions apply for sustainable biofuels.

In Norway, the use of renewable electricity in road transport has increased substantially as a result of policies that encourage electric mobility combined with the country’s essentially renewable electricity supply. However, renewable electricity only constituted just over 3% of total energy used in transport in Norway in 2020.

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