According to lastest data from Eurostat, in 2017, the share of energy from renewable sources in gross final consumption of energy, in the EU, reached 17.5%, up from 17.0% in 2016 and more than double the share in 2004 (8.5%), the first year for which data are available. The share of renewables in gross final consumption of energy is one of the headline indicators of the Europe 2020 strategy. The EU’s target is to obtain 20% of energy in gross final consumption of energy from renewable sources by 2020 and at least 32% by 2030.
With more than half (54.5%) of its energy coming from renewable sources in its gross final consumption of energy, Sweden had by far the highest share in 2017, ahead of Finland (41%), Latvia (39%), Denmark (35.8%) and Austria (32.6%) At the opposite end of the scale, the lowest proportions of renewables were registered in Luxembourg (6.4%), the Netherlands (6.6%) and Malta (7.2%).
Each EU Member State has its own Europe 2020 target. The national targets take into account the Member States’ different starting points, renewable energy potential and economic performance. Among the 28 EU Member States, 11 have already reached the level required to meet their national 2020 targets: Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Croatia, Italy, Lithuania, Hungary, Romania, Finland and Sweden. Moreover, Latvia and Austria are around 1% away from theirs 2020 targets. At the opposite end of the scale, the Netherlands (7.4% from its national 2020 objective), France (6.7%), Ireland (5.3%), the UK (4.8%), Luxembourg (4.6%), Poland (4.1%) and Belgium (3.9%) are the furthest away from their targets.
Renewable energy produced in the EU increased by two thirds in 2007-2017
The primary production of renewable energy within the EU-28 in 2017 was 226.5 Mtoe. The quantity of renewable energy produced within the EU-28 increased overall by 64% between 2007 and 2017, equivalent to an average increase of 5.1% per year.
Among renewable energies, the most important source in the EU-28 was wood and other solid biofuels, accounting for 42% of primary renewables production in 2017. Wind power was, for the first time, the second most important contributor to the renewable energy mix (13.8% of the total), followed by hydro power (11.4%). Although their levels of production remained relatively low, there was a particularly rapid expansion in the output of biogas, liquid biofuels and solar energy, which accounted respectively for a 7.4%, 6.7% and 6.4% share of the EU-28’s renewable energy produced in 2017. Ambient heat (captured by heat pumps) and geothermal energy accounted for 5% and 3% of the total, respectively, while renewable wastes increased to reach 4.4%. There are currently very low levels of tide, wave and ocean energy production, with these technologies principally found in France and the UK.
Wind power becomes the most important renewable source of electricity
In 2017, electricity generation from renewable sources contributed more than one quarter (30.7 %) to total EU-28 gross electricity consumption. Wind power is for the first time the most important source, followed closely by hydro power
The growth in electricity generated from renewable energy sources during the period 2007 to 2017 largely reflects an expansion in three renewable energy sources across the EU, principally wind power, but also solar power and solid biofuels (including renewable wastes). In 2017 hydro power has been replaced for the first time by wind power as the single largest source for renewable electricity generation in the EU-28. Indeed, the amount of electricity generated from hydro was relatively similar to the level recorded a decade earlier. By contrast, the quantity of electricity generated in the EU-28 from solar and wind was 31.6 times and 3.5 times as high in 2017 as it had been in 2007. As a result, the shares of wind power and solar power in the total quantity of electricity generated from renewable energy sources rose to 37.2% and 12.3% in 2017, respectively. The growth in electricity from solar power has been dramatic, rising from just 3.8 TWh in 2007 to a level of 119.5 TWh in 2017.
There is a significant variation between EU Member States. In Austria (72.2%), Sweden (65.9%) and Denmark (60.4%) at least three fifths of all the electricity consumed was generated from renewable energy sources — largely as a result of hydro power and solid biofuels — while more than half the electricity used in Portugal (54.2%) and Latvia (54.4%) came from renewable energy sources. On the other hand, in Cyprus, Hungary, Luxembourg and Malta the share of electricity generated from renewable sources was less than 10%.
Almost one fifth of energy used for heating and cooling from renewable sources
In 2017, renewable energy accounted for 19.5% of total energy use for heating and cooling in the EU-28. This is a significant increase from 10.4% in 2004. Increases in industrial sectors, services and households (building sector) contributed to this growth. Aerothermal, geothermal and hydrothermal heat energy captured by heat pumps is taken into account, to the extent reported by countries.
7.6% of renewable energy used in transport activities
The EU agreed to set a common target of 10% for the share of renewable energy (including liquid biofuels, hydrogen, biomethane, ‘green’ electricity, etc.) in the transport sector by 2020. The average share of energy from renewable sources in transport increased from 1.4% in 2004 to 7.6% in 2017. Among the EU Member States the relative share of renewable energy in transport fuel consumption ranged from highs of 38.6% in Sweden, 18.8% in Finland and 9.7% in Austria down to less than 2% in Croatia, Greece and Estonia.
In some of the EU Member States there was a rapid take-up in the use of renewable energy as a transport fuel. This was particularly true in Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Finland and Sweden.
The most widely used energy source are liquid biofuels, which are usually blended with fossil fuels. Due to the binding 2020 target, the production of liquid biofuels in the EU has increased significantly, being biodiesel the liquid biofuel most widely produced, followed by biogasoline and other liquid biofuels.