EU registers mixed performance on renewables
by Daniel Mason
The share of renewables in Europe's energy mix rose steadily between 2006 and 2010 but a number of countries are still a long way from achieving their 2020 targets, figures published by Eurostat today revealed.
Renewables including solar, wind, biomass, hydro and geothermal sources contributed 12.4 per cent of the energy consumed in the European Union in 2010, up from 11.7 per cent the previous year and 10.5 per cent in 2008. The EU's goal is for renewables to account for 20 per cent of energy consumption by 2020 – though the targets for individual member states differ depending on their economy and varying starting points.
Eurostat published the data to coincide with the seventh EU Sustainable Energy Week, which takes place this week. European energy commissioner Günther Oettinger said: "While Europe is already investing highly in more intelligent energy use, it is time for Europe to step up efforts in informing its citizens about the benefits of it, and ensure that renewable energy can become a competitive player in the European energy market."
In Sweden, 47.9 per cent of energy consumed in 2010 was from renewables, the highest share in the EU and close to its 2020 target of 49 per cent. However, that marked a decline compared with 2009, when the share was 48.1 per cent. Renewables were also prominent in Latvia, Finland and Austria, where they accounted for more than 30 per cent of energy consumed. But Finland was the only one of those three to improve on its 2009 figure.
But renewables contributed just 0.4 per cent of the energy mix in Malta and 2.8 per cent in Luxembourg, with both a long way off their 2020 targets of 10 and 11 per cent respectively. The United Kingdom was also among the poor performers. Renewables there accounted for just 3.2 per cent of energy consumption in 2010 – making its target of 15 per cent by the end of the decade appear distant. Similarly the Netherlands has a long way to go to meet its target of 14 per cent by 2020, with renewables making up 3.8 per cent of energy use in 2010.
Although five EU countries saw their share of renewables fall between 2009 and 2010, all 27 member states registered an overall increase in the four-year period from 2006. In that time the largest increase was in Estonia, where renewables went from 16.1 per cent to 24.3 per cent of energy used. Romania, Denmark, Sweden and Spain also managed significant increases in the share of renewables.
As party of Sustainable Energy Week the European Commission will host a three-day conference in Brussels to discuss improving the take-up of renewables. It also coincides with the international Rio+20 summit on sustainable development, being held this week in Brazil 20 years after it hosted the original Earth Summit.
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