Spotlight Activity: The EU Has Set Strong Renewable Energy Targets That Still Need To Be Met
In its effort to reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuels and to make it energy production cleaner, the EU established the Renewable Energy Directive in 2008 (2009/28/EC). It sets a binding target of 20% final energy consumption and at least 10% of transport fuels from renewable sources by 2020. To achieve this, each EU Member State had to adopt a national renewable energy action plan showing what actions are foreseen. National targets vary from one country to another from just 10% for Malta to 49% for Sweden. While the net results of the 28 Member States forecast a share of renewable energy consumption above 20%, there is a significant variation between EU Member States performance. Croatia, Denmark, Sweden and Estonia are among the eleven EU Member States that have surpassed their 2020 targets. On the other hand, five Member States are expecting a deficit with Italy recording the highest deficit.
Following the Paris Agreement, the European Commission established in 2018 the new revised Renewables Energy Directive (2018/2001). The new Directive, which sets a new binding renewable energy target for the EU for 2030 of at least 32% (subject to a possible upwards revision by 2023), aims at establishing a new stable legislative framework to support the EU in its clean energy transition and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. EU countries are required to draft 10-year National Energy & Climate Plans for 2021-2030, outlining how they will meet the new 2030 targets for renewable energy and for energy efficiency. Final plans are to be submitted to the European Commission by 31 December 2019.
EU Directives establishes a cooperation mechanism between its member states which help them meet their renewable energy targets. The cooperation mechanisms can take the form of:
- Statistical transfers of renewable energy
- Joint renewable energy projects
- Joint renewable energy support schemes
Renewable energy can be produced from a wide variety of sources. EU capacity of production of renewable energy is vast. It varies from wind and solar to hydro, tidal, geothermal and biomass. 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, wind power, solar power and solid biofuels. 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 European Union.
Every two years, EU countries report on their progress towards the EU’s 2020 renewable energy goals. Based on the national reports and other available data, the European Commission produces a report which gives an overview of renewable energy policy developments in the 28 EU countries. The last published report shows that in 2017, renewable energy accounted for 19.5% of total energy use in the EU-28, on a path to the 2020 target of 20%. This is a significant increase from 10.4% in 2004. Despite that, disparities between Member States is huge with Sweden at the top of the podium with 54.5% of its consumed energy is from renewable sources while Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands at the bottom of the list with 5.2%, 5.7% and 5.8% respectively. Contrary to that, with 7.6%, the EU is still lagging behind its target of 10% of renewable energy used in transport activities.
Status: Standing Still
The EU has established policies allowing the block to meet with its commitment to the Paris Agreement. Despite the fact that last statistics show that the EU will exceed its 2020 set targets, the block is still lagging behind its target of renewable energy in transport activities. First draft of National Energy and Climate Plans provided by Member States also show that more needs to be done in order to reach its 2030 set targets. In addition, cooperation mechanisms need to be adapted in order to encourage countries that are left behind to maximize the utilization of the potential of renewable energy in their countries and to be as close as possible to the rest of their counterparts.
Dear Mr. Arias Cañete,
We would like to congratulate you for taking the lead in making the EU a good example in the use of renewable energy. However, we recommend that the EU should strengthen its policies to ensure its ability to reach its 2020 and 2030 set goals. We also recommend that the EU should start to look deeper into its policies and mechanisms to encourage Member States who are left behind and relying on their counterparts to achieve their targets to maximize the utilization of the untapped potential of renewable energy sources in their countries.
We are looking forward to your answer and working on climate action together.
With our respectful and best regards,
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