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Special Report: Renewable Energy Europe


EREC secretary-general Christine Lins offers a forecast of renewable energy growth in Europe and argues for its benefits to member states

Christine Lins
Christine Lins
It is my pleasure to introduce this ENDS report giving an overview of the National Renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAPs) submitted so far by EU governments to the European Commission. Renewable energy sources (RES) have experienced tremendous growth in recent times in the EU. We believe these NREAPs set the direction for further growth up to 2020.

An analysis of the plans currently on the table*, carried out from a European perspective, reveals the following:

  • There will be a surplus in 2020 of about 1% over the 20% renewable energy target. This confirms EREC’s view that the EU can surpass the target within its borders, bringing benefits to companies, to citizens and to society at large.
  • Seventeen out of the 19 countries are fore­cast to at least reach their 2020 targets within national borders. Only Italy and Lux­embourg plan to resort to cooperation mechanisms to achieve their goals.
  • Cooperation mechanisms will mainly be used in meeting the binding target for 2020; the majority of EU countries will not resort to such mechanisms before 2018.

A European Environment Agency analysis of the 20% target shows that electricity (in the current 19 NREAPs) will make up 45% of the EU’s renewable energy production, with heating and cooling comprising 43% and transport 12%.

In the EU, 36.1% of electricity will come from RES in 2020. These preliminary results from the 19 member states contradict the commission’s most ambitious scenario in its latest Energy Trends to 2030 update, which foresees the same figure ten years later, in 2030.

In 2020, 21.9% of the heating and cooling demand will come from RES. This lies below EREC’s projections in its Roadmap to 2020. We believe that member states have not, generally speaking, fully tapped the potential of renewables in the heating and cooling sector. Further measures are needed to awaken this ‘sleeping giant’. But in transport they are forecast to reach 11.5% of diesel and petrol consumption, overtaking the binding transport target set by the EU directive promoting the use of RES.

In economically challenging times, Eur­ope needs a strong future-oriented industry and the creation of new jobs. Member states yet to do so should submit their NREAPs to secure the economic, environmental and social benefits of developing renewable energy technologies nationally.

* Excluding the Czech and Romanian plans.

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