Renewable energy use marginally increases

EUROPE: European Union (EU) member countries only increased its renewable energy consumption by 0.3 percentage points in 2016, compared to 2015 figures, data from the EU's statistical office have shown.

Use of renewable energy in Europe increased by only 0.3 percentage points in 2016
Use of renewable energy in Europe increased by only 0.3 percentage points in 2016

According to the official Eurostat data, the EU sourced 17% of its final energy consumption from renewables in 2016, up from 16.7% in 2015.

Despite this, the EU as a whole is on track to meet its 20% renewable energy target by 2020, Eurostat said.

The data shows that 11 member states are already exceeding their 2020 targets for renewable energy use.

Sweden topped the table with 53.8%, followed by Finland (38.7%) and Latvia (37.2%), the figures show.

By contrast, Ireland, the Netherlands and France were singled out by Eurostat's data as the countries furthest away from their national targets.

Each member state has its own 2020 target, which takes into account respective starting points when the goal was set and geographical peculiarities.

According to the statistics Ireland, the Netherlands and France will each need to increase their renewable energy consumption by 6 percentage points in order to meet their 2020 targets.

Jonathan Gaventa, director of environmental consultancy E3G, welcomed the fact the EU was on track to meet its 2020 targets, but he noted: "Renewables only increased by 0.3 percentage points in 2016, so the rate of growth in renewables in the EU has been much lower than it has been in the last five to six years."

He said the EU needs to look again at its renewables deployment policies and address overcapacity from old coal plants in order to make way for renewable energy generation.

Even though renewables only increased by 0.3 percentage points in 2016, the share of the energy mix has doubled for solar, wind, hydropower, tidal power, geothermal energy and bioenergy since figures were first compiled in 2004 (8.5%).

EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete said the figures showed "the case for higher targets and ambition is stronger than ever", just a week after the European Parliament agreed to increase the Commission's proposed 27% renewables target for 2030 to 35%.

A spokesman from the trade association WindEurope said the new statistics strengthen the argument for the EU to go for an "ambitious 35% renewables target for 2030", instead of 27%.

He added: "Three EU countries have now surpassed 35%. A higher target is not only affordable but economically desirable. Consumers benefit: wind, for example, is now the cheapest form of new power generation in Europe."

He said wind energy was also a key part of European manufacturing and exports — it supports 263,000 jobs in Europe industry and contributes €36bn to EU GDP. He maintained a 27% target would put that at risk.

The difference between 27% and 35% in wind is €92bn investments not made and 136,000 jobs not created, the spokesman added.

First published on Ends Europe

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