Renewable energy statistics

Data extracted in May 2015. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: May 2016.

This article provides recent statistics on renewable energy sources in the European Union (EU). Renewable energy sources include wind power, solar power (thermal, photovoltaic and concentrated), hydroelectric power, tidal power, geothermal energy, biomass and the renewable part of waste.

The use of renewable energy has many potential benefits, including a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the diversification of energy supplies and a reduced dependency on fossil fuel markets (in particular, oil and gas). The growth of renewable energy sources may also have the potential to stimulate employment in the EU, through the creation of jobs in new ‘green’ technologies.

Table 1: Primary production of renewable energy, 2003 and 2013
Source: Eurostat (ten00081) and (nrg_107a)
Table 2: Share of renewables in gross inland energy consumption, 2013
(%)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_100a) and (nrg_107a)
Figure 1: Share of renewables in gross final energy consumption, 2013 and 2020
(%)
Source: Eurostat (t2020_31)
Figure 2: Proportion of electricity generated from renewable sources, 2013
(% of gross electricity consumption)
Source: Eurostat (tsdcc330)
Figure 3: Electricity generated from renewable energy sources, EU-28, 2003–13
Source: Eurostat (nrg_105a) and (tsdcc330)
Figure 4: Share of renewable energy in fuel consumption of transport, 2013
(%)
Source: Eurostat (tsdcc340)

Main statistical findings

Primary production

The primary production of renewable energy within the EU-28 in 2013 was 192 million tonnes of oil equivalent (toe) — a 24.3 % share of total primary energy production from all sources. The quantity of renewable energy produced within the EU-28 increased overall by 84.4 % between 2003 and 2013, equivalent to an average increase of 6.3 % per year.

Among renewable energies, the most important source in the EU-28 was biomass and renewable waste, accounting for just under two thirds (64.2 %) of primary renewables production in 2013 (see Table 1). Hydropower was the other main contributor to the renewable energy mix (16.6 % of the total). Although their levels of production remained relatively low, there was a particularly rapid expansion in the output of wind and solar energy, which accounted for 10.5 % and 5.5 % respectively of the EU-28’s renewable energy produced in 2013. The remaining shares were 3.1 % for geothermal energy and 0.02 % for tide, wave and ocean energy, the latter being found in only France and the United Kingdom.

The largest producer of renewable energy within the EU-28 in 2013 was Germany, with a 17.5 % share of the total; Italy (12.2 %) and France (12.0 %) were the only other EU Member States to record double-digit shares, followed by Spain (9.1 %) and Sweden (8.7 %). There were considerable differences in the renewable energy mix across the Member States, which reflect to a large degree natural endowments and climatic conditions. For example, more than three fifths of the renewable energy produced in Malta (72.6 %) and Cyprus (64.1 %) was from solar energy, while more than a third of the renewable energy in the relatively mountainous countries of Croatia, Austria and Slovenia was from hydropower. Hydropower also accounted for more than a third of the renewable energy production in Turkey, Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, rising to a share of more than a half in Montenegro, close to three quarters in Albania and peaking at 88.7 % in Norway. More than one fifth (21.3 %) of the renewable energy production in Italy was from geothermal energy sources (where active volcanic processes exist). The share of wind power was particularly high in Ireland (51.0 %) and also accounted for more than one quarter of renewable energy production in Denmark, the United Kingdom and Spain.

The output of renewable energy in Malta grew at an average rate of 41.3 % per year between 2003 and 2013, although the absolute level of output remained by far the lowest in the EU-28. Over this same period, annual increases averaging in excess of 10.0 % were recorded for Belgium, Ireland the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, while increases below 3.0 % were recorded in Portugal, Finland and Latvia.

Consumption

Renewable energy sources accounted for an 11.8 % share of the EU-28’s gross inland energy consumption in 2013 (see Table 2). The relative importance of renewables in gross inland consumption was relatively high in Portugal (23.5 %), Denmark (24.2 %), Finland (29.2 %) and Austria (29.6 %) and exceeded 30.0 % of the energy consumed in Sweden (34.8 %) and Latvia (36.1 %), as was the case in Albania (31.0 %), Montenegro (36.9%) and Norway (37.4 %).

The EU seeks to have a 20 % share of its gross final energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020; this target is distributed between the EU Member States with national action plans designed to plot a pathway for the development of renewable energies in each Member State. Figure 1 shows the latest data available for the share of renewable energies in gross final energy consumption and the targets that have been set for each country for 2020. The share of renewables in gross final energy consumption stood at 15.0 % in the EU-28 in 2013.

Among the EU Member States, the highest share of renewables in gross final energy consumption in 2013 was recorded in Sweden (55.1 %), while Latvia, Finland and Austria each reported that more than 30.0 % of their final energy consumption was derived from renewables. Compared with the most recent data available for 2013, the targets for Ireland, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom require each of these Member States to increase their share of renewables in final energy consumption by at least 8.0 percentage points. By contrast, Sweden, Bulgaria and Estonia had already surpassed their targets for 2020, while Lithuania had matched its target.

Electricity

The latest information available for 2013 (see Figure 2) shows that electricity generated from renewable energy sources contributed more than one quarter (25.4 %) of the EU-28’s gross electricity consumption. In Austria (68.1 %) and Sweden (61.8 %) at least three fifths of all the electricity consumed was generated from renewable energy sources, largely as a result of hydropower and biomass.

The growth in electricity generated from renewable energy sources during the period 2003 to 2013 (see Figure 3) largely reflects an expansion in three renewable energy sources, namely, wind turbines, solar power and biomass. Although hydropower remained the single largest source for renewable electricity generation in the EU-28 in 2013 (45.5 % of the total), the amount of electricity generated in this way in 2013 was relatively similar to that recorded a decade earlier, rising by just 17.9 % overall. By contrast, the quantity of electricity generated from biomass (including renewable waste) more than trebled, while that from wind turbines increased more than fivefold between 2003 and 2013. The relative shares of wind turbines and biomass in the total quantity of electricity generated from renewable energy sources rose to 26.5 % and 17.8 % respectively in 2013. The growth in electricity from solar power was even more dramatic, rising from just 0.4 TWh in 2003 to overtake geothermal energy in 2008 to reach a level of 85.3 TWh in 2013. Over this 10-year period, the contribution of solar power to all electricity generated from renewable energy sources rose from 0.1 % to 9.6 %. Tide, wave and ocean power contributed just 0.05 % of the total electricity generated from renewable energy sources in the EU-28 in 2013.

Transport

At the end of 2008, the EU agreed to set a target for each Member State, such that renewable energy sources (including biofuels, hydrogen or ‘green’ electricity) should account for at least 10 % of all fuel used within the transport sector by 2020. The average share of renewable energy sources in transport fuel consumption across the EU-28 was 5.4 % in 2013, ranging from a high of 16.7 % in Sweden to less than 1.0 % in Portugal, Spain and Estonia (see Figure 4).

Data sources and availability

The statistics presented in this article are calculated on the basis of energy statistics covered by Regulation 1099/2008 on energy statistics, most recently amended in April 2014 by Regulation 0431/2014. A consolidated version of the legislation is available from the Energy dedicated section of Eurostat’s website.

The share of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption is identified as a key indicator for measuring progress under the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. This indicator may be considered as an estimate for the purpose of monitoring Directive 2009/28/EC on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources — however, the statistical system in some countries for specific renewable energy technologies is not yet fully developed to meet the requirements of this Directive; for example, ambient heat energy for heat pumps is not reported by many countries. Furthermore, the Directive requires hydropower and wind energy to be normalised to smooth the effects of variations due to weather; given the 15-year normalisation requirement for hydropower production and the availability of energy statistics (for the EU-28, starting from 1990), long time series for this indicator are not available. As such, the statistics presented for hydropower and wind energy in this article have not been normalised.

The share of electricity from renewable energy sources is defined as the ratio between electricity produced from renewable energy sources and gross national electricity consumption. Electricity produced from renewable energy sources comprises electricity generation from hydropower plants (excluding pumping), as well as electricity generated from biomass / waste, wind, solar and geothermal installations.

The share of renewable energies in the fuel consumed by the transport sector is calculated on the basis of energy statistics, according to the methodology as described in Directive 2009/28/EC. The contribution of all biofuels is included within the calculation for this indicator until 2010. From 2011 the data for biofuels in transport are restricted only to biofuels compliant with Directive 2009/28/EC (in other words satisfying the sustainability criteria).

Context

The European Commission has set out several energy strategies for a more secure, sustainable and low-carbon economy. Aside from combating climate change through a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the use of renewable energy sources is likely to result in more secure energy supplies, greater diversity in energy supply, less air pollution, as well as the possibility for job creation in environmental and renewable energy sectors.

The integrated energy and climate change strategy adopted in December 2008 provided a further stimulus for increasing the use of renewable energy sources to 20 % of total energy consumption by 2020, while calling for energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions to both be cut by 20 %. Directive 2009/28/EC of the European Parliament and Council on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources set an overall goal across the EU for a 20 % share of energy consumption to be derived from renewable sources by 2020, while renewables should also account for a 10 % share of the fuel used in the transport sector by the same date. The Directive changes the legal framework for promoting renewable electricity, requires national action plans to show how renewable energies will be developed in each EU Member State, creates cooperation mechanisms, and establishes sustainability criteria for biofuels (following concerns over their potential adverse effects on crop prices, food supply, forest protection, biodiversity, water and soil resources). A report on the sustainability of solid and gaseous biomass used for electricity, heating and cooling (SWD(2014) 259) was adopted in July 2014.

On 6 June 2012, the European Commission presented a Communication titled, ‘Renewable energy: a major player in the European energy market’ (COM(2012) 271), outlining options for a renewable energy policy for the period beyond 2020. The Communication also called for a more coordinated European approach in the establishment and reform of support schemes and an increased use of renewable energy trading among EU Member States. In January 2014, the European Commission put forward a set of energy and climate goals for 2030 with the aim of encouraging private investment in infrastructure and low-carbon technologies. One of the key targets proposed is for the share of renewable energy to reach at least 27 % by 2030. These objectives are seen as a step towards meeting the greenhouse gas emissions targets for 2050 put forward in the Roadmap for moving to a competitive low-carbon economy in 2050 (COM (2011) 112).

One of the 10 priorities of the European Commission put forward in 2014 is an energy union. It is intended that a European energy union will ensure secure, sustainable, competitive and affordable energy. In February 2015, the European Commission set out its plans for a framework strategy for a resilient energy union with a forward-looking climate change policy in a Communication (COM(2015) 80). The Communication proposes five dimensions for the strategy, one of which is decarbonising the economy.

See also

Further Eurostat information

Publications

Main tables

Energy statistics - main indicators (t_nrg_indic)
Energy statistics - quantities (t_nrg_quant)

Database

Energy statistics - quantities, annual data (nrg_quant)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)

External links