Brussels, 10 January 2007
In 2001, the European Union set a target that 21% of electricity generated in the EU Member States should come from renewable energy sources by 2010As part of its Energy Policy for Europe, the Commission has today issued a report on the progress made in the field. Although 50% additional renewable electricity has been produced since the last report two years ago, figures show that the overall share of renewable electricity will fall just short of the target, reaching 19% by 2010.
Among the various sources of renewable electricity, wind energy has been a clear success – with a growth in wind capacity of 150% since 2001, the EU is the established leader in the field and has a 60% share of the global market. The total consumption of wind energy in the EU constitutes the equivalent of the electricity consumption of Denmark and Portugal put together. However, in half of the EU, wind is not sufficiently harnessed, due to delays in authorisations, unfair grid conditions and slow reinforcement and extensions of the electric power grid.
The development of solid biomass accelerated significantly in 2004 and 2005 – electricity from solid biomass is generated from the combustion of forestry and agricultural products and residues in thermal power stations. The largest contributors to total biomass generation are Finland and Sweden, followed by Germany, Spain, the UK, Denmark, Austria and the Netherlands. The Commission has just approved and presented an EU Forest Action Plan, which also supports the use of forest resources as an energy feedstock.
Biogas is another important source for producing electricity, in that its exploitation is not only a question of energy production but also a question of waste treatment and environmental considerations. Approximately two thirds of biogas is used for electricity production and one third for heat production. Biogas can also be used as a transport fuel. Currently the UK and Germany are the EU leaders in biogas energy exploitation.
Solar energy continues to show promise – it is an emerging technology with an important long-term potential. Total installed photovoltaic capacity in the EU has been growing at an unprecedented average annual rate of 70 % over the last five years, with Germany taking the lead again.
The development of small scale hydro (with a capacity of up to 10 MW) has been slow due to exploited potentials and administrative barriers (i.e. environmental permissions). However, new Member States have shown more dynamic development in this sector, particularly in Slovenia and Poland.
Electricity production from geothermal sources is currently mainly used in Italy, Portugal and France. The undisputed European leader is Italy, with over 95% of all installed capacity in the EU.
In its conclusion the report underlines the importance of a full and correct implementation of the Directive on renewable electricity, and the immediate lifting of administrative barriers, unfair grid access and complex procedures. The Commission will, in 2007, re-examine the support schemes for renewable electricity and propose a new legal framework for the promotion of renewable energy sources.
Assessment of Member States' progress towards the 2010 target (%)