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European renewable energy share increases to 17.5% in 2017

According to EurObserv’ER data, the European Union’s (EU) gross final renewable energy consumption increased by 7.5 Mtoe between 2016 and 2017, from 195.3 to 203 Mtoe, amounting to 3.8 percent growth. The main reason for this increase is the higher contribution made by renewable electricity. In gross final energy consumption, renewables rose 0.5 percent compared to 2016 to reach 17.5 percent. Thus Europe has three years to reach another 2.5 percent renewables share to fulfil its 2020 target.

The 2009/28 Directive stipulates that an overall 20 percent share of renewable energy in Europe’s gross final energy consumption should be achieved by the European Union (EU) Member States. It has set individual binding targets for each country for 2020.

EurObserv’ER monitors each Member State’s trajectory towards these targets. Calculating the renewable energy share of each member country is a “delicate exercise” hence the results presented are estimates, based on the information collected over the past year by EurObserv’ER. These initial estimates suggest that the renewable energy share of the EU’s gross final energy consumption rose to 17.5 percent in 2017 from its 2016 level of 17.0 percent (using rounded figures).

According to EurObserv’ER data, the EU’s gross final renewable energy consumption increased by 7.5 Mtoe between 2016 and 2017 – from 195.3 to 203.0 Mtoe – amounting to 3.8 percent growth. The main reason for this increase is the higher contribution made by renewable electricity.

Renewable electricity, which takes into account normalised production for wind energy and hydropower, delivered 4.1 Mtoe more than in 2016, namely 3.1 Mtoe for wind energy, 0.7 Mtoe for photovoltaic solar power and 0.3 Mtoe for all the biomass sectors taken together – solid biomass, biogas, renewable urban waste and liquid biomass.

Renewable heat made a lower contribution

According to EurObserv’ER, the 2017 increase was 2.2 Mtoe for a total contribution of 101.5 Mtoe. Solid biomass alone contributed half of the additional contribution of renewable heat, 1.1 Mtoe. It was followed by renewable heat from heat pumps, which provided an additional 560 ktoe.

This confirms that in several countries, electrification of heating is a growing trend. Transport biofuel that fulfils sustainability criteria also made positive input by adding 1.2 Mtoe, for a total of 15.2 Mtoe.

The European Union’s total gross final energy consumption (renewable and other) continued to pick up in 2017. It rose 14.3 Mtoe (1.2 percent) over its 2016 level to reach 1162.8 Mtoe in 2017. The increase in final renewable energy consumption took the renewable share to 17.5 percent in 2017 from its 2016 level of 17 percent, i.e. a 0.5 percentage point (using rounded figures).

Although the 0.5 percentage is higher than the one achieved in 2016 the current trend remains insufficient for the  European Union to achieve its common goal of 20 percent if the current low growth trend does not increase. An annual 0.8 percentage point increase until 2020 is needed to meet the target.

Difference between Member States

Each EU Member state has its own Europe 2020 target. The national targets take into account the different starting points together with the renewable energy potentials and Member State-specific economic performance levels. As it stands, according to EurObserv’ER country-level estimates eleven Member States have achieved their 2020 targets.

They are the same countries as quoted last year, namely Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Croatia, Estonia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, Italy, the Czech Republic and Hungary. Four countries have achieved more than 90 percent of their targets – Austria, Latvia, Portugal and Greece.

This contrasts with Member States falling behind their indicative trajectories and Member States seeing their renewable energy share decrease in 2017 due to a higher increase in their total final energy consumption when compared to their increase in final renewable energy consumption. This trend continues to show that as the trajectory becomes steeper Member States need to keep up their efforts to reach their 2020 binding target.

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