Press Release

EEA highlights success stories in expanding renewable energy

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Press Release Published 06 Dec 2001 Last modified 28 Jun 2016
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Copenhagen, 6 December 2001

Why has wind energy grown faster in Germany than Britain, and energy from solar panels expanded more quickly in Spain than Greece?

A new report from the European Environment Agency identifies factors that can influence the success or otherwise of renewable energy projects.

Renewable energies: success stories aims to facilitate greater use of renewable energy sources and contribute to efforts by the European Union and its Member States to meet targets for increasing power from renewables by 2010.

The report focuses on how much each EU country managed to expand its use between 1993 and 1999 of a number of renewable energy technologies - solar photovoltaic panels, solar thermal heating, wind and certain uses of biomass (wood and crops).

The study identifies essential elements for success in seven areas: political, legislative, fiscal, financial and administrative support, technological development, and information, education and training. It concludes that the key to success lies in the combined effect of support measures rather than in any single factor. The winning combinations vary from one technology to another.

The success stories include the expansion of solar thermal energy and biomass-fuelled district heating in Austria, wind energy and biomass power in Denmark, photovoltaics, solar thermal and wind energy in Germany, photovoltaics and wind energy in Spain and biomass district heating in Sweden.

"This report helps point the way towards solutions. It demonstrates the European Environment Agency's determination not only to provide information to support better policy-making but also to gather and disseminate ‘best practice' information for actors on the ground to use," said EEA Executive Director Domingo Jiménez-Beltrán.

"The study also creates a framework that can be used by others to promote renewables and communicate about success stories,” Mr Jiménez-Beltrán added. "I hope it will become the seed for the creation of a clearing house for experiences in how best to promote renewable energies at many levels, from national to local.”

The report was launched at the European Parliament in Brussels yesterday at a meeting of the European Forum for Renewable Energy Sources (EUROFORES) and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC).

The study and the executive summary can be downloaded from the EEA website at

Notes to editors

  • The EU has set itself an indicative target of producing 12% of its energy (both electricity and heat) and 22.1% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2010. Indicative national renewable electricity targets for each Member State are also included in the recently adopted EU renewable electricity Directive (2001/77/EC).
  • In the study, to be considered a success the use of a renewable energy technology in a specific Member State had to show at least one of the following:
  • An absolute increase equivalent to at least 10% of the total EU-wide increase in output of that technology over the 1993-1999 period
  • A percentage increase in output higher than the EU average increase for that technology over the 1993-1999 period.

The countries and technologies meeting one or both of these criteria are shown in the table in the Annex.

About the EEA

The European Environment Agency aims to support sustainable development and to help achieve significant and measurable improvement in Europe's environment through the provision of timely, targeted, relevant and reliable information to policy making agents and the public. Established by the European Union (EU) in 1990 by Council Regulation 1210/90 (subsequently amended by Council Regulation 933/1999), the Agency is the hub of the European environment information and observation network (EIONET), a network of some 600 environmental bodies and institutes across Europe.

Located in Copenhagen and operational since 1994, the EEA is open to all countries that share its objectives and are able to participate in its activities. The Agency currently has 24 member countries. These are the 15 EU Member States; Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, which are members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA); and, since 1 August 2001, six of the 13 countries in central and eastern Europe and the Mediterranean area that are seeking accession to the EU -- Bulgaria, Cyprus, Latvia, Malta, Slovenia and the Slovak Republic. Their membership makes the EEA the first EU body to take in the candidate countries.

In recent weeks Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania and the Czech Republic have also ratified EEA membership agreements and it is anticipated that the remaining two candidate countries -- Poland and Turkey -- will do so over the next few months. This will take the Agency's membership to a total of 31 countries.


Trends in renewable energy expansion 1993--99


Biomass district heating refers to heat output from heat plants only.
Note 1: Two criteria for selection are used:
check-red.gif (left) represents a contribution of at least 10 % of the total EU increase in absolute terms, 1993--99;
check-blue.gif (right) represents a percentage increase greater than the EU percentage increase, 1993--99.
Note 2: Biofuels only:
check-green.gif represents those Member States which indicate that they use biofuels (most do not).
Source: Eurostat.




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