Renewable energy can be produced from a wide variety of sources including wind, solar, hydro, tidal, geothermal, and biomass. By using more renewables to meet its energy needs, the EU lowers its dependence on imported fossil fuels and makes its energy production more sustainable. The renewable energy industry also drives technological innovation and employment across Europe.
2020 renewable energy targets
The EU's Renewable energy directive sets a binding target of 20% final energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020. To achieve this, EU countries have committed to reaching their own national renewables targets ranging from 10% in Malta to 49% in Sweden. They are also each required to have at least 10% of their transport fuels come from renewable sources by 2020.
All EU countries have adopted national renewable energy action plans showing what actions they intend to take to meet their renewables targets. These plans include sectorial targets for electricity, heating and cooling, and transport; planned policy measures; the different mix of renewables technologies they expect to employ; and the planned use of cooperation mechanisms.
A new target for 2030
Renewables will continue to play a key role in helping the EU meet its energy needs beyond 2020. EU countries have already agreed on a new renewable energy target of at least 27% of final energy consumption in the EU as a whole by 2030 as part of the EU's energy and climate goals for 2030.
On 30 November 2016, the Commission published a proposal for a revised Renewable Energy Directive to make the EU a global leader in renewable energy and ensure that the 2030 target is met.
Support schemes for renewables
Public interventions such as support schemes remain necessary to make certain renewable energy technologies competitive. To avoid distorting energy prices and the market however, these schemes should be time-limited and carefully designed. The EU has issued guidance on support schemes to help governments when they design or revise support schemes.
Every two years, the EU publishes a renewable energy progress report.
The latest report from 2015 states that 25 EU countries are expected to meet their 2013/2014 interim renewable energy targets. In 2014, the projected share of renewable energy in the gross final energy consumption is 15.3%.
According to data from Eurostat, the total share of renewable energy in the EU in 2012 was 14.1%, up from 8.7% in 2005.
List of Renewable Energy Associations
Under the EU's Renewable Energy Directive, the European Commission must keep a 'transparency platform'. This allows public access to national and Commission documents relating to renewable energy