5. Progress towards Member States' renewable energy targets

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  • Under the RED, Member States must achieve targets for the share of energy from renewable sources in their gross final consumption of energy in 2020. These targets range from 10 % to 49 %. To ensure progress towards these 2020 targets, the RED also sets indicative trajectories for the period from 2011 to 2020. Member States also set their own estimated trajectories in their NREAPs, reported in 2010 and updated by some Member States thereafter.
  • In all Member States except three (France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands), the share of RES in 2015 was equal to, or higher than, the average for this period based on the indicative trajectories set under the RED. According to preliminary EEA estimates and last year's trend, this situation remained unchanged in 2016.
  • With regard to the progress of Member States based on their own plans, 20 (all except France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Spain) reached or exceeded their anticipated NREAP trajectories in 2015. According to preliminary estimates, this number is expected to decrease to 19 Member States in 2016, as Cyprus and Slovenia were also unable to follow their NREAP trajectory for that year but the RES share for Spain is estimated to be above the NREAP trajectory.
  • In 11 Member States (Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Romania and Sweden), the proportion of RES use in 2015 already exceeded the 2020 RED targets. Preliminary estimates for 2016 indicate that the same also holds true for 2016.
  • Excess RES capacity may be used for transfers to support Member States that are having difficulty reaching their targets. The trading options provided for under the RED could provide benefits to the countries involved and help the EU achieve its 2020 RES target more cost-effectively.

5.1 Current progress towards renewable energy source targets

In order to achieve the EU's objective of a 20 % share of energy from renewable sources in its gross final energy consumption by 2020, the RED sets national targets for each Member State for 2020 (EU, 2009). These targets range from 10 % (Malta) to 49 % (Sweden). To monitor progress towards these 2020 targets, the RED sets out indicative trajectories for the period from 2011 to 2020. These indicative trajectories are expressed as average shares for 2-year periods, from 2011 to 2018, in addition to the 2020 target.

For the 2-year period from 2015 to 2016, officially reported national data are available only for 2015. In 2015, all Member States except three (France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) exceeded their indicative trajectory set in the RED for the period 2015-2016 (see Figure 5.1). When the EEA early renewable energy estimate for 2016 is taken into account to calculate 2015-2016 average RES shares, the picture remains the same.

When considering current RES shares in relation to 2020 targets, in 2015, 11 Member States exceeded their national targets for 2020 set under the RED. These countries were Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Romania and Sweden (see Annex 3).

Figure 5.1 National shares of energy from renewable sources in relation to indicative Renewable Energy Directive (RED) trajectories

Notes: For Croatia, data revision, which took place in 2016, revealed significantly higher amounts of biomass consumption, which drove the proportion of renewable energy use upwards.

RES, renewable energy source.

Sources: EC, 2013c; EEA, forthcoming; EU, 2009d; Eurostat, 2017d.

5.2 Progress towards the objectives of national action plans

Member States also set their own estimated trajectory to 2020 in NREAPs, which they reported in 2010 and which some updated thereafter. These action plans concern the development of renewable energy at the national level, and include expected trajectories as well as planned RES shares in the transport (RES-T), heating and cooling (RES-H/C), and electricity (RES-E) market sectors.

For most Member States, the anticipated trajectories set out in NREAPs are more ambitious than the indicative trajectories defined in the RED [1]. For example, the indicative RES target for the period 2015-2016 set out in the RED for Denmark is 22.9 %, while this country planned to achieve a share of 28.2 % for energy from renewable sources in 2016, according to its NREAP. In contrast, Greece, Latvia, Romania and the United Kingdom have designed trajectories in their NREAPs that are, for some years, lower than those set out in the RED.

In 2015, 20 Member States reached or exceeded the RES targets outlined in their NREAPs for that year (see Figure 5.2). However, for eight Member States (France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Spain) in 2015, the RES shares were below the anticipated trajectories laid out in their corresponding NREAPs.

Preliminary estimates by the EEA indicate that, in 2016, fewer Member States are expected to reach or exceed their NREAP trajectories than in 2015 (19 compared with 20). In addition to the countries that did not reach their NREAP trajectory in 2015, two further Member States (Cyprus and Slovenia) failed to stay above their NREAP trajectory in 2016, while the RES share of Spain is expected to lie above the NREAP trajectory.

Figure 5.2 National shares of energy from renewable sources in relation to trajectories from national action plans

Notes: The countries are ranked by decreasing 2020 renewable energy source (RES) target levels. For Croatia, data revision, which took place in 2016, revealed significantly higher amounts of biomass consumption, which drove the proportion of renewable energy use upwards.

NREAP, National renewable energy action plans.

Sources: EC, 2013c; EEA, 2017k; EU, 2009d; Eurostat, 2017d.

5.3 Deployment of renewable energy between 2005 and 2015

The RES shares represent the ratio between renewable energy use and gross final energy consumption, at country and at EU level. Accordingly, the growth of the RES share in the Member States during the period 2005-2015 is a combined result of the development (in absolute terms) of renewable energy use alongside changes in gross final energy consumption. The latter has declined in 26 Member States since 2005 (see Figure 5.3). Aggregated at EU level, the gross final consumption of energy declined by 8.5 % between 2005 and 2015, while renewable energy consumption grew by almost 70 % over the same period (see Section 4.1).

Figure 5.3 Gross final energy consumption (total and from renewable sources) and shares of energy from renewable sources in the Member States, 2005-2015

Figure 5.3

Notes: In Malta, there was an increase in gross final energy consumption from renewable sources of 4 727 % between 2005 and 2015, as renewable energy represented only a tiny fraction of the country's gross final energy use in 2005. At the same time, due to the very small absolute size of the country's renewable energy use in 2005, the data may not be fully representative and are thus not represented above. The data on total gross final energy consumption take into account adjustments with regard to the amounts of energy consumed in aviation, as stipulated under the RED.

Source: Calculated from Eurostat, 2017d.

5.4 Progress towards renewable energy source targets in the transport sector

The 10 % RES-T target at EU level translates into RES-T targets of 10 % for all Member States. In 2015, Austria (11.4 %), Finland (22 %) and Sweden (24 %) were the only three Member States with RES-T shares of more than 10 %. In the other Member States, RES-T shares varied from 0.4 % (Estonia) to 8.5 % (France and Slovakia).

In Portugal and Sweden, the use of biofuels compliant with sustainability criteria [2] increased considerably in 2015. In Sweden, fuel efficiency and renewable energy use in transport are stimulated through a number of tax incentives. Sweden has a high proportion of flexi-fuel vehicles, and numerous public buses run on ethanol and biogas. Sweden also has a high proportion of renewable electricity consumption in rail transport.

In 2016, preliminary estimates indicate that the situation remained similar to that in 2015. Apart from Austria, Finland and Sweden, RES-T shares ranged from 0.5 % (Estonia) to 8.9 % (France) in the other Member States (see Table A2.2 in Annex 2).

5.5 Regional cooperation and statistical transfers

According to the latest progress reports on renewable energy submitted by Member States in 2015, 15 Member States (Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden) expect to produce more energy from renewable sources than planned, for at least 1 year, before 2020. These Member States could, in principle, transfer any excesses to other Member States experiencing deficits. Several Member States have indicated that they would be willing to participate in such transfers. Updates to this information may occur when Member States submit their new progress reports at the end of 2017.

From 2012 to 2015, statistical transfers between Norway and Sweden took place. This is due to their joint electricity certificate market scheme, which started trading in 2012. According to this scheme, an electricity certificate issued in one country can be used to meet the quota obligation in the other country, and vice versa. The agreement between Norway and Sweden was updated in May 2017. Sweden has decided on a new national target in 2030 and will therefore extend the electricity certificate scheme for 10 more years. Norway will stop adding new projects to the scheme after 2021. The two countries will still have a common certificate scheme until 2045 (Swedish Energy Agency, 2017; Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate, 2017).

Denmark, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Portugal have also reported plans of joint projects or have expressed an interest in such projects in their 2015 progress reports.

In 2016, Denmark and Germany launched a first cross-border auction for ground-mounted photovoltaic (PV) installations (PV magazine, 2016). France and Germany have very recently agreed on holding joint renewables auctions (Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, 2017).

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Footnotes

[1] In its 2015 progress report on the promotion and use of energy from renewable sources submitted under Article 22 of the RED, Italy presented an updated RES trajectory, because of the unexpectedly quick development of the use of renewable energy compared with that expected in the 2010 NREAP. This was a consequence of the reduction in total final energy consumption and of the greater than anticipated increase in power generation from renewable sources. Such development is expected to continue until 2020. For the present assessment, the original NREAP trajectory was taken into account. > Back

[2] Only biofuels and bioliquids that comply with sustainability criteria defined at EU level can receive government support or count towards national renewable energy targets. These criteria ensure that the use of biofuels (in transport) and bioliquids (for electricity and heating) is done in a way that guarantees actual carbon savings and protects biodiversity. In particular, to be considered sustainable, biofuels must achieve minimum GHG savings in comparison with fossil fuels: they cannot be grown in areas converted from land with previously high carbon stock, such as wetlands or forests, and they cannot be produced from raw materials obtained from land with high levels of biodiversity, such as primary forests or highly biodiverse grasslands.
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