In 2015, the share of energy from renewable sources in gross final consumption of energy reached 16.7 percent in the European Union (EU). This is nearly double 2004, according to figures from Eurostat. Eleven Member States including the Nordic-Baltic States of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, and Sweden have already achieved their 2020 targets.
According to figures from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union (EU) the share of renewables in EU energy consumption is still on the rise reaching almost 17 percent in gross final energy consumption 2015. The EU target to be reached by 2020 is a share of 20 percent energy from renewable sources in gross final consumption of energy and it is one of the headline indicators of the Europe 2020 strategy.
However, renewables will continue to play a key role in helping the EU meet its energy needs beyond 2020. For this reason, Member States have already agreed on a new EU renewable energy target of at least 27 percent by 2030.
Highest renewable share in Sweden, lowest in Luxembourg, Malta, and the Netherlands
Since 2004, the first year for which data is available, the share of renewable sources in gross final consumption of energy grew significantly in all Member States. Compared with 2014, it has increased in 22 of the 28 Member States.
With 53.9 percent of energy from renewable sources in its gross final consumption of energy, Sweden had by far in 2015 the highest share, followed by Finland at 39.3 percent, Latvia at 37.6 percent, Austria at 33.0 percent and Denmark at 30.8 percent.
At the opposite end of the scale, the lowest proportions of renewables were registered in Luxembourg and Malta, both 5.0 percent, the Netherlands at 5.8 percent, Belgium at 7.9 percent and the United Kingdom at 8.2 percent.
The Netherlands and France: furthest away from their goals
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, eleven have already reached the level required to meet their national 2020 targets: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Croatia, Italy, Lithuania, Hungary, Romania, Finland, and Sweden. Moreover, Austria and Slovakia are about 1 percentage point from their 2020 targets.
At the opposite end of the scale, with 8.2 percentage points from reaching its national 2020 objective the Netherlands is the furthest away, France is 7.8 percentage points away, Ireland and the United Kingdom both at 6.8 percentage points away whereas Luxembourg has 6.0 percentage points to go.
Baltic Sea Region taking the renewable energy lead
According to Eurostat, Finland, France, and Sweden are the only three European Union (EU) Member States (MS) where the share of fossil fuels in energy consumption is under 50 percent. In 2015, fossil fuels made up 30 percent of energy consumption in Sweden, 46 percent in Finland and 49 percent in France.
Recent developments in the Baltic Sea Region suggest that the share of fossil fuels in energy consumption is set to decrease further, especially in the heat and power sector, with much of this is expected to come from biomass.
In its “Energy and Climate Strategy for 2030 and Beyond”, the Finnish government proposed amongst other things to phase out the use of coal in energy production by 2030 and to have climate-neutral energy production by 2050. Both DONG Energy in Denmark and Fortum Värme in Sweden have made recent announcements to phase out coal by 2023 and 2022 respectively.
The upcoming Nordic-Baltic Bioenergy Conference, which takes in Helsinki, Finland 29-31 March, should provide a direct insight into just how far and how fast the Baltic Sea Region is transitioning from a fossil dependent economy to an independent biobased economy.