Good progress made with renewable energies in the EU

Good progress made with renewable energies in the EU

Expansion of the use of renewable energies in 2015 exceeded the targets set by the EU Commission. Wind, solar and hydro power had a total share of approx. 16.4 percent of the EU Member States’ energy consumption in 2015. In terms of the electricity mix, the electricity sector has the largest share of renewable energies, at 28.3 percent. The heat sector has a renewable energy share of 18.1 percent. In the transport sector, powering alternative drive technologies accounted for approx. six percent of the renewable energy share in 2015. Almost all countries in the EU were able to increase their share of renewable energy sources; 25 Member States exceeded their planned trajectories.

This is shown by the latest data on the development of the renewable energies from 2004 to 2015 for the 28 EU Member States, which Oeko-Institut compiled, edited and analyzed with project partners on behalf of the European Commission. The progress report shows how the shares of solar, wind, hydro energy and bioenergy have changed overall and shows the development for each individual Member State. The project consortium also conducted estimates of further developments up to 2020 and evaluated the reasons for possible barriers to achieving a renewable energy supply.

More security of supply with renewables

Alongside protecting the climate and reducing emissions harmful to our health, the increased use of renewable energies also contributes to sustainably securing the energy supply. As a result of the growth in renewable energies in the last ten years, it is estimated that fossil fuel imports decreased by approx. 71 million tons of oil equivalent (i.e. fossil fuels calculated as oil equivalent) in the EU, which corresponds to approx. 16 billion Euro.

If it is assumed that the expansion of renewable energies continues to be increased, fossil fuel use in the EU can decrease by 136 million tons of oil equivalent overall by 2020. This corresponds to approx. 42 billion Euro. The European Union's overarching target of reaching a 20 percent share of renewables energies by 2020 could even be slightly exceeded, according to the assumptions of the current EU reference scenario.

Overcoming barriers, further increasing use of renewables

The project researchers also examined non-economic barriers that hindered a greater use of renewable energies in the individual sectors. The interviews carried out within the project across the EU with experts from various sectors show mixed results: in the electricity sector, in particular, difficult planning and permitting procedures for new power plants and for the expansion of the electricity grid have resulted in delays. For the heating and cooling sector, low public perception of renewable technologies was the primary reason for a limited use of renewable energies. In the transport sector, by contrast, reliable targets for 2020 onwards were lacking, which prevented investors from focusing more strongly on renewables energies.

Further information

For the European Commission's progress report on renewable energies in the EU, Oeko-Institut co-operated with the following partners: E3-Modelling, Observ'ER, COWI, Eclareon.

The data is based on the information that was available when the analysis was carried out. It is not official data and may vary from Eurostat data.

Oeko-Institut's "Study on Technical Assistance in Realisation of the 2016 Report on Renewable Energy, in preparation of the Renewable Energy Package for the Period 2020-2030 in the European Union"