Renewable energy in the European Union
The countries of the European Union are the number two global leaders in the development and application of renewable energy. Promoting the use of renewable energy sources is important both to the reduction of the EU's dependence on foreign energy imports, and in meeting targets to combat global warming.
- 1 Policy
- 2 Member states
- 3 Energy Community countries
- 4 Renewable energy sectors
- 5 Economics
- 6 Statistics
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The Maastricht Treaty set an objective of promoting stable growth while protecting the environment. The Amsterdam Treaty added the principle of sustainable development to the objectives of the EU. Since 1997, the EU has been working towards a renewable energy supply equivalent to 12% of the total EU's energy consumption by 2010.
The Johannesburg Summit failed to introduce the radical changes targeted for ten years after the Rio Summit. No specific goals were set for the energy sector, which disappointed many countries. While the EU had proposed an annual increase in the use of renewable energy at a rate of 1.5% worldwide until 2010, Johannesburg's action plan did not recommend such a "substantial" increase, with no concrete goals nor dates being set.
The EU was unwilling to accept this result and with other nations formed a group of "pioneer countries" that promised to establish ambitious national or even regional goals to achieve global targets. The Johannesburg Renewable Energy Coalition (JREC) has a total of more than 80 member countries; the EU members, Brazil, South Africa and New Zealand amongst them.
In the European Conference for Renewable Energy in Berlin in 2004, the EU defined ambitious goals of its own. The conclusion was that by 2020, the EU would seek to obtain 20% of its total energy consumption requirements with renewable energy sources. Up until that point, the EU had only set targets up to 2010, and this proposal was the first to represent the EU's commitment up to 2020.
Renewable energy targets
In 2009 the Renewables Directive set binding targets for all EU Member States, such that the EU will reach a 20% share of energy from renewable sources by 2020 and a 10% share of renewable energy specifically in the transport sector. By 2014 the EU realized a 16% share of energy from renewable sources with nine member states already achieving its goals.
The key parts of the European renewable energy targets agreement set in 2014 are as proposed by a Shell lobbyist in October 2011. Shell is the sixth biggest lobbyist in Brussels, spending between €4.25-4.5m a year lobbying the EU institutions. Agreement has no binding targets for member states on energy efficiency or renewable energy.
Links to climate policy
Underlying many of the EU's energy policy proposals is the goal to limit global temperature changes to no more than 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, of which 0.8 °C has already taken place and another 0.5–0.7 °C (for total warming of 1.3-1.5 °C) is already committed. 2 °C is usually seen as the upper temperature limit to avoid 'dangerous global warming'. However some scientists, such as Kevin Anderson, professor of energy and climate change in the School of Mechanical, Aeronautical and Civil Engineering at the University of Manchester and former director of the Tyndall Centre, the UK's leading academic climate change research organisation, have argued that to be consistent with the science, 1 °C is a more accurate threshold for "dangerous" climate change.
EU energy efficiency and renewable energy actions includes:
- BUILD UP
- The Covenant of Mayors
- Sustainable Energy Europe Campaign
- Intelligent Energy – Europe (IEE)
- U4energy is an initiative funded under the IEE programme to improve energy consumption in schools and their local communities.
Article 4 of the Renewables Directive required Member States to submit National Renewable Energy Action Plans by 30 June 2010. These plans, to be prepared in accordance with the template published by the Commission, provide detailed roadmaps of how each Member State expects to reach its legally binding 2020 target for the share of renewable energy in their final energy consumption. Member States must set out the sectoral targets, the technology mix they expect to use, the trajectory they will follow and the measures and reforms they will undertake to overcome the barriers to developing renewable energy. The plans are published by the EC upon receipt in the original language, allowing public scrutiny. The Commission will evaluate them, assessing their completeness and credibility. In parallel, the plans will be translated into English. In addition, the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands was contracted by the European Environment Agency to create an external database and quantitative report of the reports received so far.
The Member States which joined the EU in 2004 must apply the provisions of Directive 2001/77/EC on producing electricity from renewable energy sources. Their Accession Treaty sets national indicative targets for the proportion of electricity produced from RES (RES-E) in each new Member State the result of which is an overall objective of 21% for the EU-25.
The Member States must adopt and publish, initially every five years, a report setting the indicative Member State targets for future RES-E consumption for the following ten years and showing what measures have or are to be taken to meet those targets. The Member State targets must take account of the reference values set out in the Annex to the Directive for Member States' indicative targets concerning the share of electricity produced from renewable energy sources in gross electricity consumption in 2010. They must also be compatible with all the national commitments entered into as part of the commitments accepted by the Community in Kyoto.
- Nuclear: 91.8 TWh (17.2%)
- Brown Coal: 140.7 TWh (26.4%)
- Hard Coal: 110.1 TWh (20.7%)
- Natural Gas: 33.9 TWh (6.4%)
- Wind: 51.4 TWh (9.7%)
- Solar: 32.8 TWh (6.2%)
- Biomass: 53 TWh (10.0%)
- Hydro: 18.5 TWh (3.5%)
In 2014, Germany's share of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption increased by 1.4% to 13.8%. In 2004, renewables accounted for only 5.8% or about the same share as for the Netherlands in 2014 (5.5%).
In 2014, net generated electricity from renewable sources accounted for about 30%. Compared to the previous year, biomass, solar and wind increased their production by 13%, 5.9% and 1.5%, respectively, while weather permitting hydro power decreased by 9.6%. Wind and solar combined generated almost as much as nuclear in 2014 (see pie-chart). Nuclear remained unchanged, while electricity generation from natural gas, brown and hard coal decreased by 15.8%, 2.9% and 10.4%, respectively.
In 2014, 38.2% of Italian electric energy consumption came from renewable sources (in 2005 this value was 15.4%), covering 16.2% of the total energy consumption of the country (5.3% in 2005).
Lithuania has many yet undeveloped renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, geothermal energy, municipal waste, and biomass. The amount of biomass per capita in Lithuania is one of the highest in the European Union and it is estimated that in 2020 Lithuania will be the first in the EU according to the quantity of available biomass for biofuel production. The projected production of biofuels by 2020 is 0.25 tons per capita.
In 2010, more than 50% of all yearly electricity consumption in Portugal was generated from renewable energy sources. The most important generation sources were hydroelectric (30%) and wind power (18%), with bioenergy (5%) and photovoltaic solar power (0,5%) accounting for the rest. In 2001, the Portuguese government launched a new energy policy instrument – the E4 Programme (Energy Efficiency and Endogenous Energies), consisting of a set of multiple, diversified measures aimed at promoting a consistent, integrated approach to energy supply and demand. By promoting energy efficiency and the use of endogenous (renewable) energy sources, the programme seeks to upgrade the competitiveness of the Portuguese economy and to modernize the country’s social fabric, while simultaneously preserving the environment by reducing gas emissions, especially the CO2 responsible for climatic change. As a result, in the five years between 2005 and 2010, energy production from renewable sources increased 28%.
Portugal has the second largest photovoltaic power station in the world, which was completed in December 2008. The complex, called Amareleja photovoltaic power station, covers an area of 250-hectare. The 46-megawatt solar power plant produces enough electricity for 30,000 homes and saves more than 89,383 tons a year in greenhouse gas emissions. Also in production since January 2007, the Serpa solar power plant with an installed capacity 11MW, covers an area of 60-hectare, produces enough energy for 8,000 homes and saves more than 30,000 tons a year in greenhouse gas emissions. These solar parks are approximately 30 km apart.
Spain as a whole has the target of generating 30% of its electricity needs from renewable energy sources by 2010, with half of that amount coming from wind power. In 2006, 20% of the total electricity demand was already produced with renewable energy sources, and in January 2009 the total electricity demand produced with renewable energy sources reached 34.8%.
Some regions of Spain lead Europe in the use of renewable energy technology and plan to reach 100% renewable energy generation in few years. Castilla y León and Galicia, in particular, are near this goal. In 2006 they fulfilled about 70% of their total electricity demand from renewable energy sources.
If nuclear power is also considered CO2 free, two autonomous communities in Spain have already managed to fulfill their total 2006 electricity demand "free" of CO2 emissions: Extremadura and Castilla-La Mancha.
In 2005 Spain became the first country in the world to require the installation of photovoltaic electricity generation in new buildings, and the second in the world (after Israel) to require the installation of solar hot water systems.
By 2004 4.65% of the UK's electricity requirements were being generated from renewable energy sources (including hydroelectricity), up from 2.55% in 1990. This figure rose to 8.7% by 2011. The total contribution of renewable energy to all energy consumption in the UK was 3.8% in 2011. This comprised 8.7% of electricity, 2.2% of heat and 2.9% of transport fuel coming from renewable sources. UK Government energy policy set a target for renewable electricity to provide 10% of all electricity use by 2010. This target was not met. The UK has agreed to the EU wide renewable energy target of 20% of all energy to come from renewables by 2020, in line with the EU 2009 Renewable Energy Directive. The UK's specific target is to achieve 15% of all energy from renewables. The UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has announced that the UK will attempt to meet this target with 30% renewable electricity, 12% renewable heat and 10% renewable transport fuel. As of 2010[update][needs update], the UK was 25th of the 27 EU Member States in terms of the fraction of energy produced from renewables.
The prospects for renewable energy in Scotland in particular are significant. Scotland has an estimated potential of 36.5 GW of installed capacity from wind and 7.5 GW from tidal power, 25% of the estimated total capacity for the European Union for both, and up to 14 GW of wave power potential, 10% of EU capacity. The Scottish Government has a target of generating 50% of Scotland's gross annual consumption of electricity from renewables by 2015, rising to 100% by 2020.
Energy Community countries
Also the Contracting Parties of the Energy Community, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia and Ukraine implement the Directive 2009/28/EC since September 2012. The shares for the Contracting Parties were calculated based on the EU methodology and reflect an equal level of ambition as the targets fixed for EU Member States. The targets for the share of renewable energy in Contracting Parties in 2020 are the following: Albania 38%, Bosnia and Herzegovina 40%, Kosovo* 25%, Macedonia 28%, Moldova 17%, Montenegro 33%, Serbia 27% and Ukraine 11%. The deadline for transposing the Directive 2009/28/EC and the adoption of the National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) was set for 1 January 2014.
With the Decision 2012/03/MC-EnC and the acceptance of binding targets Contracting Parties can participate in all cooperation mechanisms. This means in particular that statistical transfers of renewable energy for the purposes of target achievement will be possible independently from physical flow of electricity. In addition, the decision lays down a number of adaptations to the rules for statistical transfers and joint support schemes between the Contracting Parties and EU Member States to ensure the original objectives of the RES Directive are preserved.
Renewable energy sectors
Britain's first major bioethanol plant should be completed by the middle of 2009 and should use more than one million tonnes of wheat per year. The plant, in Wilton, northeast England, will be Europe's largest biorefinery, producing around 400 million to 450 million litres of bioethanol a year as well as 350,000 tonnes of animal feed. Currently the largest plant in the UK is a British Sugar facility in eastern England with an annual production capacity of about 70 million litres.
|This section requires expansion. (March 2009)|
In 2011, installed Wind power capacity in the European Union totalled 93,957 megawatts (MW) - enough to supply 6.3% of the EU's electricity. 9,616 MW of wind power was installed in 2011 alone, representing 21.4% of new power capacity. The EU wind industry has had an average annual growth of 15.6% over the last 17 years (1995-2011).
A European Environment Agency report, entitled Europe's onshore and offshore wind energy potential confirms wind energy could power Europe many times over. The report highlights wind power’s potential in 2020 as three times greater than Europe’s expected electricity demand, rising to a factor of seven by 2030.
The EWEA estimates that 230 gigawatts (GW) of wind capacity will be installed in Europe by 2020, consisting of 190 GW onshore and 40 GW offshore. This would produce 14-17% of the EU's electricity, avoiding 333 million tonnes of CO2 per year and saving Europe €28 billion a year in avoided fuel costs.
Research from a wide variety of sources in various European countries shows that support for wind power is consistently about 80 per cent amongst the general public.
Photovoltaic solar power
The need for the strategic development of photovoltaic systems in the EU has led to the creation of PV-NET, a network that gathers representatives from all the sectors of the research and development community concerned with the photovoltaic solar energy industry (see solar cell). The network promotes communication between speakers through the organisation of specialised conferences, workshops and congresses.
This interaction has led to the editing of a waybill, finished in 2003 with the aim of providing a solid basis for EU leaders and European citizens to base their decisions and policy making and in order to help reach the objective set by the European Commission to multiply the use of photovoltaic systems by thirty times by 2010.
In 2002, the world production of photovoltaic modules surpassed 550 MW, of which more than the 50% was produced in the EU. At the end of 2004, 79% of all European capacity was in Germany, where 794 MWp had been installed. The European Commission anticipates that Germany may have installed around 4,500 MWp by 2010.
17.2 GW of PV capacity were connected to the grid in Europe in 2012, compared to 22.4 GW in 2011; Europe still accounts for the predominant share of the global PV market, with 55% of all new capacity in 2012.
Concentrated solar power
One advantage of concentrated solar power (CSP) is the ability to include thermal energy storage to provide power up to 24 hours a day. Gemasolar, in Spain, was the first to provide 24‑hour power. At the end of 2012, in the European Union, 2,114 MWp had been installed, mainly in Spain.
There is considerable academic and commercial interest internationally in a new form of CSP, called STEM, for off-grid applications to produce 24 hour industrial scale power for mining sites and remote communities in Italy, other parts of Europe, Australia, Asia, North Africa and Latin America. STEM uses fluidized silica sand as a thermal storage and heat transfer medium for CSP systems. It has been developed by Salerno-based Magaldi Industries. The first commercial application of STEM will take place in Sicily from 2015.
Solar heating and cooling
Solar heating is the usage of solar energy to provide space or water heating. Worldwide the use was 88 GWthermal (2005). Growth potential is enormous. At present the EU is second after China in the installations. If all EU countries used solar thermal as enthusiastically as the Austrians, the EU’s installed capacity would already be 91 GWth (130 million m2 today, far beyond the target of 100 million m2 by 2010, set by the White Paper in 1997). In 2005 solar heating in the EU was equivalent to more than 686.000 tons of oil. ESTIF’s minimum target is to produce solar heating equivalent to 5.600.000 tons of oil (2020). A more ambitious, but feasible, target is 73 million tons of oil per year (2020) – a lorry row spanning 1.5 times around the globe.
The research efforts and infrastructure needed to supply 50% of the energy for space and water heating and cooling across Europe using solar thermal energy has been set out under the aegis of the European Solar Thermal Technology Platform (ESTTP). Published in late December 2008, more than 100 experts developed the strategic research agenda (SRA), which includes a deployment roadmap showing the non-technological framework conditions that will enable this ambitious goal to be reached by 2050.
The world's first commercial wave farm is located at the Aguçadora Wave Park near Póvoa de Varzim in Portugal. The farm which uses three Pelamis P-750 machines was officially opened in 2008 by the Portuguese minister for the economy.
Funding for a wave farm in Scotland using four Pelamis machines was announced on 20 February 2007 by the Scottish Executive. The funding of just over £4 million is part of a £13 million funding package for marine power in Scotland. The farm, is to be located at the European Marine Test Centre (EMEC) off the coast of Orkney and will have an installed capacity of 3MW.
The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, FCH JU, is a public private partnership supporting research, technological development and demonstration activities in fuel cell and hydrogen energy technologies in Europe. Its aim is to accelerate the market introduction of these technologies.
The HyFLEET:CUTE is a project bringing together many partners from industry, government, academic and consulting organisations. It is intended that 47 hydrogen powered buses will operate in regular public transport service in 10 cities on three continents. Many of the HyFLEET:CUTE project partners have been involved in previous hydrogen transport projects, most notably the CUTE, ECTOS and STEP projects.
The renewable energy industry have offered new work opportunities in the EU during 2005–2009.
|Jobs by the renewable
energy industry in the EU
In 2012, the use of intermittent renewable energy caused, according to the German newspaper Der Spiegel, increasing electricity prices and grid instability induced power outages, created by renewable energy usage. It is also claimed by German heavy industry spokesmen that this has forced their industries to close, move overseas, and resulted in the loss of German heavy industry jobs.
In 2010 renewables avoided €30bn in imported fuel costs. In 2010 EU supported renewable energy with €26bn.
Installed wind power capacity
|EU Wind Energy Capacity (MW)|
Total installed capacity
As of the end of 2013, cumulative capacity of solar PV accounted for almost 79 gigawatts and generated more than 80 terawatt-hours in the European Union. Including non-EU countries, a total of 81.5 GW had been installed. Although Europe has lost its leadership in solar deployment, the continent still accounts for about 59 percent of global installed photovoltaics. Solar PV covered 3 percent of the electricity demand and 6 percent of the peak electricity demand in 2013. Grid-connected photovoltaic power systems account for more than 99 percent of the overall capacity, while stand-alone photovoltaic power system have become insignificant.
|2013 - photovoltaic Barometer Report - PV Capacity in the European Union|
|Country||Added 2014 (MW)||Total 2014 (MW)||Generation 2014|
|Added 2014 (MW)||Total 2014 (MW)||Generation 2014|
Source: EUROBSER'VER (Observatoire des énergies renouvelables) Photovoltaic Barometer - installations 2014
|Consumption 2005 (GWh)||Consumption 2006 (GWh)||Consumption 2007 (GWh)|
|8||Italy||2 059||1,732||1,732||0||1,621||1 621||0|
|*Total includes vegetable oils in Germany: 7309 GWh (2006) and 2018 GWh (2005) and biogas in Sweden: 225 GWh (2006) and 160 GWh (2005), n.a. = not available|
- List of energy storage projects
- List of renewable energy topics by country
- Climate change in the European Union
- Economy of the European Union
- EKOenergy ecolabel for energy
- Energy Community
- Energy efficiency in Europe
- Environment in the European Union
- Eugene Green Energy Standard
- European Energy Research Alliance
- European Renewable Energy Council
- European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA).
- European Pollutant Emission Register (EPER)
- Fraunhofer Society
- Intelligent Energy Europe
- Renewable energy commercialization
- Renewable energy development
- Renewables Directive
- Transport in the European Union
- European countries by fossil fuel use (% of total energy)
- Environmental racism in Europe#Norway
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In the media
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- Eurostat Share of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption, as of April 2015
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- Concentrating Solar Power
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Renewable energy in the European Union.|
- Eurostat - Statistics Explained - Renewable energy statistics
- Europe's Energy Portal European platform for energy efficiency and renewable energy.
- Directive 2009/28/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources
- ManagEnergy, for energy efficiency and renewable energies at the local and regional level.
- Reegle: Information Gateway For Renewable Energy And Energy Efficiency
- 34% from renewables in the EU by 2020?
- REPAP2020 Project: Renewable energy policy action paving the way towards 2020
- All EurObserv'ER barometers - The state of renewable energies in Europe