Europe on target for 20 percent renewable energy by 2020
European Union (EU) nations are on target to meet their 20 percent renewable energy goal by 2020, according to a report conducted by the European Environment Agency (EEA): “Renewable energy in Europe — approximated recent growth and knock-on effects.”
|EU actual and approximated progress to interim and 2020 targets. Credit: European Environment Agency|
The report estimated the share of renewable energy consumption in 2013 across EU nations. To account for the growth, the report cited the drop in prices for renewable sources, such as wind and solar, which have been replacing coal and gas.
“By reducing the demand for imported fossil fuels, renewable technologies also increase energy security,” the report explained. “The substitution of natural gas (7 percent) is especially relevant in the current geopolitical context and considering the decline of domestic gas resources, while the reduction of oil and related fuels was less pronounced, to some extent, given the lesser share of renewable energy use in transport.”
The 20 percent goal is an average between the nations, and Britain, the Netherlands, Malta and Luxembourg have fallen behind — each with less than 5 percent energy from renewables. Austria, Finland, Sweden and Latvia are all above 30vpercent. In 2013, hydropower and onshore wind provided the majority of electricity from renewables, with 42.6 percent and 26.2 percent, respectively. Biomass provided 85 percent of renewable energy in the heating and cooling sector.
According to the report, consumption of fossil fuels across Europe would have been 7 percent higher in 2012 if not for the additional use of renewable energy since 2005. Around 13 percent of coal was substituted for renewable sources, the most of any fuel.
The EU is on track to hit the 20 percent goal, but has another goal further into the future. The countries have agreed to a 27 percent renewable target by 2030 — and, according to European Commission’s Energy Roadmap 2050, long-term forecasts estimate the EU goal at 55 to 75 percent by 2050.
Even with the additions, the report found that coal, oil, gas and other fossil fuels still account for nearly 75 percent of energy consumption across the EU.
“We can go even further: if we support innovation in this area it could become a major motor of Europe’s economy, bringing down emissions while creating jobs,” said EEA Executive Director Hans Bruyninckx.