The EU closer to its target to obtain 20 percent of its energy from renewables

energy consumption

The renewable share in the European Union’s gross energy consumption stood at 17.5 percent in 2017. This constitutes an increase by half a point from 2016, and double from the 8.5 percent recorded in 2004, the first year for which the Eurostat data was available.

Eleven States have reached the target

According to data published this week, in 2017 the EU was 2.5 percentage points from reaching its target of obtaining 20 percent of the final consumption of energy from renewable energy sources. Furthermore, eleven Member States in the European Union have reached this target.

The countries that managed to meet this goal are Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Croatia, Italy, Lithuania, Hungary, Romania, Finland, and Sweden, each within their set targets, which varied by country in accordance with their starting level, renewable power capacity, and economic situation. This is an intermediate step so that the level may rise to 23 percent by 2030.

The nations with the most progress in their efforts toward an energy transition are Sweden (54 percent), Finland (41 percent), Latvia (39 percent), Denmark (35.8 percent), and Austria (32.6 percent). On the contrary, the ones with the lowest share of renewables were Luxemburg (6.4 percent), the Netherlands (6.6 percent), Malta (7.2 percent), Belgium (9.1 percent), and Cyprus (9.9 percent).

Spain within the average

Spain is in line with the EU average of renewable consumption standing at 17.5 percent. In other words, it grew by one-tenth from the 17.4 percent recorded in 2016, and is up by 9.2 percentage points from the 8.3 percent recorded in 2004. The country has pledged to obtain 20 percent of energy in gross final consumption of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

The most extreme cases

Among the countries with the highest renewable targets for 2020, only Portugal and Latvia have not managed to surpass this goal. In detail, Portugal set the target at 31 percent and recorded a renewable consumption of 28.1 percent in 2017. Meanwhile, Latvia stands at 40 and 39 percent, respectively. On the other hand, Sweden (49 percent), Austria (34 percent), and Denmark (30 percent) have reached their targets.

In the opposite extreme, among the countries that are the furthest from reaching their consumption goals we have France at the lead (6.7 points from its 23 percent target); followed by Ireland (5.3 points from 16 percent), the United Kingdom (4.8 points from 15 percent), Luxemburg (4.6 points from 11 percent), Poland (4.1 points from 15 percent); and Belgium (3.9 points from 13 percent), according to data provided by Eurostat.

EU saw the renewable progress slow down

The progress made in the use of renewables and the improvement in energy efficiency has slowed down, which threatens the group’s capacity to achieve the emissions reduction and energy consumption targets. This deceleration is the result of a rise in energy consumption, especially in the transportation sector.

This scenario is depicted in the preliminary data seen in the European Environment Agency’s (EEA) annual report on the EU’s progress with regards to their renewable and energy efficiency targets.

This current assessment is based on the most recent estimates and statements published by EU members on their GHG emissions, the adoption of renewable energies, and energy consumption.

The EU as a whole continues to move forward on the path to meeting the goal of reducing GHG and increasing renewable consumption. However, the recent rise seen in energy consumption trends must be reversed in order to meet the 2020 goals.

Renewed efforts will also be necessary to comply with the climate and energy goals set for 2030.

The rise in consumption stands in the way of energy efficiency

Overall, energy consumption has dropped at a pace that might guarantee achieving the EU energy efficiency goals for 2020. Nonetheless, 2015 saw a rise if energy consumption in the EU. Therefore, the EEA’s preliminary estimates for 2017 indicate that both primary and final energy consumption are currently above the indicative trajectory toward 2020.

The continuous rise of energy consumption stands in the way of the goal set for next year.

The report estimates that thirteen Member States will increase consumption of primary energy over the trajectory corresponding to the 2020 targets. This is three more nations than in 2016.

The Member States must increase efforts to put the EU back on the right track. Only then will they be able to reverse the rising energy consumption levels, especially in the transportation sector.

The EEA’s Trend Projections report indicates that the current trend will not suffice to reach the targets for 2030. In view of this, it will be necessary to make additional and improved efforts over the next decade.  

For more information, check Energía16

See also: Europe’s offshore wind capacity grew by 18 percent last year

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