Renewable energy statistics

Data extracted in June 2017. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: June 2018.
Table 1: Primary production of renewable energy, 2005 and 2015
Source: Eurostat (nrg_107a)
Table 2: Share of renewables in gross inland energy consumption, 2015
(%)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_100a) and (nrg_107a)
Figure 1: Share of renewables in gross final energy consumption, 2015 and 2020
(%)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_ind_335a)
Figure 2: Proportion of electricity generated from renewable sources, 2005 and 2015
(% of gross electricity consumption)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_ind_335a)
Figure 3: Electricity generated from renewable energy sources, EU-28, 2005-2015
Source: Eurostat (nrg_105a) and (nrg_ind_335a)
Figure 4: Share of renewable energy in fuel consumption of transport, 2005 and 2015
(%)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_ind_335a)

This article provides recent statistics on renewable energy sources in the European Union (EU). Renewable energy sources include: wind power; solar (thermal — including concentrated — and photovoltaic); hydroelectric power; tidal, wave and ocean power; geothermal energy; biofuels; and renewable 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.

Main statistical findings

Primary production

The primary production of renewable energy within the EU-28 in 2015 was 205 million tonnes of oil equivalent (toe) — a 26.7 % share of total primary energy production from all sources. The quantity of renewable energy produced within the EU-28 increased overall by 71.0 % between 2005 and 2015, equivalent to an average increase of 5.5 % per year. This rapid expansion in the primary production of renewable energy could be contrasted with the situation for primary production from all energy sources, as total output fell by 15.2 % (or an average of 1.6 % per annum), thereby highlighting the growing importance of renewables to the EU’s energy mix.

Among renewable energies, the largest source in the EU-28 in 2015 was solid biofuels and renewable waste, accounting for just under two thirds (63.5 %) of primary renewables production (see Table 1). Hydropower was the second largest contributor to the renewable energy mix (14.3 % of the total), followed by wind energy (12.7 %). Although their levels of production remained relatively low, there was a particularly rapid expansion in the output of wind and solar energy, the latter accounting for a 6.4 % share of the EU-28’s renewable energy produced in 2015, while geothermal energy accounted for 3.2 % of the total. There are currently very low levels of tide, wave and ocean energy production, with these technologies principally found in France and the United Kingdom.

The largest producer of renewable energy within the EU-28 in 2015 was Germany, with a 19.0 % share of the total; Italy (11.5 %) and France (10.4 %) were the only other EU Member States to record double-digit shares, followed by Sweden (9.0 %) and Spain (8.2 %).

The output of renewable energy in Malta grew at an average rate of 40.3 % per year between 2005 and 2015, 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 also recorded for the United Kingdom and Belgium (both 13.0 % per annum), Hungary (10.5 %; note there was a considerable revision of Hungarian data) and Ireland (10.4 %); there was also a relatively fast increase in the primary production of renewable energy in Bosnia and Herzegovina (14.1 % per annum during the period from 2005 to 2014). The rate of change for the primary production of renewable energy in the remaining EU Member States and non-member countries was below 10.0 % per annum, with a relatively slow expansion in the output of renewables — averaging less than 3.0 % per annum — in Romania, Croatia, Sweden, Latvia, Finland, Austria and Slovenia, as well as in Norway, Serbia, Albania, Montenegro and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

There were considerable differences in the renewable energy mix across the EU Member States, which reflect to a large degree natural endowments and climatic conditions. For example, more than four fifths of the renewable energy produced in Malta (83.1 %) and around two thirds of that produced in Cyprus (66.8 %) was from solar energy. By contrast, close to one third of the renewable energy in the relatively mountainous countries of Sweden, Austria and Slovenia was from hydropower. Hydropower also accounted for more than one third of renewable energy production in Turkey, Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia, rising to above two thirds in Albania, and peaking at almost 90 % in Norway. Close to one quarter (23.2 %) of the renewable energy production in Italy was from geothermal energy sources (where active volcanic processes exist); their share rose to 30.8 % in Turkey and peaked at 75.8 % in Iceland. The relative share of wind power was particularly high in Ireland (57.6 %) and Denmark (34.4 %), while wind energy accounted for more than one quarter of renewable energy production in the United Kingdom and Spain, and for close to one fifth in Portugal.

Consumption

Renewable energy sources accounted for a 13.0 % share of the EU-28’s gross inland energy consumption in 2015 (see Table 2). The importance of renewables in gross inland consumption was relatively high in Denmark (28.4 %), Austria (29.0 %) and Finland (31.6 %) and exceeded one third of inland consumption in Latvia (35.1 %) and Sweden (42.2 %), as was the case in Albania (34.3 %), Norway (44.7 %) and Iceland (84.9 %).

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 of the Member States. 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 Member State for 2020. The share of renewables in gross final energy consumption stood at 16.7 % in the EU-28 in 2015.

Among the EU Member States, the highest share of renewables in gross final energy consumption in 2015 was recorded in Sweden (53.9 %), while Finland, Latvia, Austria and Denmark each reported that more than 30.0 % of their final energy consumption was energy derived from renewables. Compared with the most recent data available for 2015, the targets for the Netherlands, France, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Luxembourg require each of these Member States to increase their share of renewables in gross final energy consumption by at least 6.0 percentage points. By contrast, nine of the Member States had already surpassed their target for 2020; the extent to which the targets have been exceeded was particularly large in Croatia, Sweden and Estonia.

Electricity

The latest information available for 2015 (see Figure 2) shows that electricity generated from renewable energy sources contributed more than one quarter (28.8 %) of the EU-28’s gross electricity consumption. In Austria (70.3 %) and Sweden (65.8 %) at least three fifths of all the electricity consumed was generated from renewable energy sources — largely as a result of hydropower and solid biofuels — while more than half the electricity used in Portugal (52.6 %), Latvia (52.2 %) and Denmark (51.3 %) came from renewable energy sources.   A comparison between 2005 and 2015 reveals that Estonia, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Poland recorded the most rapid expansions in the shares of their electricity generated from renewable energy sources, this share rising at least fivefold during the most recent decade for which data are available; note that this was often from a low level, as was the case for Cyprus and Malta, where there was no electricity generated from renewable sources in 2005.

The growth in electricity generated from renewable energy sources during the period 2005 to 2015 (see Figure 3) largely reflects an expansion in three renewable energy sources across the EU, principally wind turbines, but also solar power and solid biofuels (including renewable waste). Although hydropower remained the single largest source for renewable electricity generation in the EU-28 in 2015 (38.4 % of the total), the amount of electricity generated in this way was relatively similar to the level recorded a decade earlier, as production rose by 6.5 % overall. By contrast, the quantity of electricity generated in the EU-28 from solid biofuels and from wind turbines was 2.5 times and 4.3 times as high in 2015 as it had been in 2005; as a result, the shares of wind turbines and solid biofuels in the total quantity of electricity generated from renewable energy sources rose to 31.3 % and 18.4 % respectively in 2015. The growth in electricity from solar power was even more dramatic, rising from just 1.5 TWh in 2005 to overtake geothermal energy in 2008, reaching a level of 107.9 TWh in 2015. Over this 10-year period, the contribution of solar power to all electricity generated in the EU-28 from renewable energy sources rose from 0.3 % to 11.2 %. Tide, wave and ocean power contributed just 0.05 % of the total electricity generated from renewable energy sources in the EU-28 in 2015.

Transport

At the end of 2008, a 10 % target was set concerning the share of renewable energy sources (including liquid biofuels, hydrogen or ‘green’ electricity) in the EU-28’s consumption of fuel for transport by 2020. The average share of renewable energy sources in transport fuel consumption was 6.7 % in 2015, 3.7 times as high as it had been in 2005 (1.8 %).

Among the EU Member States the relative share of renewable energy in transport fuel consumption ranged from highs of 24.0 % in Sweden and 22.0 % in Finland (Austria was the only other Member State with a double-digit share in 2015, 11.4 %) down to less than 2.0 % in Spain, Greece and Estonia (see Figure 4).

In some of the EU Member States there was a rapid take-up in the use of renewable energy as a transport fuel. This was particularly true in Ireland, Luxembourg and Finland: in Ireland and Luxembourg, the share of renewables rose from 0.1 % in 2005 to 6.5 % in 2015, while in Finland it grew from 0.9 % to 22.0 % over the same period. The share of renewable energy sources for transport fuel also grew more than 10-fold between 2005 and 2015 in Denmark, Portugal, Greece and the Netherlands.

Data sources and availability

Renewable energy statistics are calculated on the basis of information that is collected on the basis of Regulation (EC) No 1099/2008 on energy statistics, most recently amended in April 2014 by Regulation (EU) No 431/2014; a consolidated version of the legislation is also available.

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 is not yet fully developed to meet the requirements of this Directive for specific renewable energy technologies; for example, ambient heat energy for heat pumps is frequently not reported. Furthermore, for the calculation of the share of renewable energy 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 yet available.

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 solid biofuels/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 liquid biofuels is included within the calculation for this indicator until 2010. From 2011, the data for liquid biofuels in transport are restricted only to liquid biofuels compliant with Directive 2009/28/EC (in other words satisfying the sustainability criteria); as such, there is a break in series for the data presented in Figure 4.

It should be highlighted that as a consequence of the Renewable Energy Directive, EU Member States are monitoring more closely the flows of renewable energy commodities within their economies. One specific case of particular interest concerns the consumption of biomass, where new more detailed surveys are being launched to allow the Member States to capture additional data pertaining to the final energy consumption of biomass. As a consequence, some Member States are revising their statistics and there have been cases where the share of energy from renewable sources has subsequently risen by a relatively large margin. Such increases do not reflect additional renewable energy flows, rather, they are a result of better accounting for existing flows. Among those Member States that have already revised their biomass data, Croatia, Lithuania and Hungary are three principal examples; note that all three achieved their 2020 targets for the use of energy from renewable sources as a consequence of such revisions.

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 2020 climate and energy package adopted in December 2008 provided a further stimulus for increasing the use of renewable energy sources, while calling for energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions to both be cut. Directive 2009/28/EC 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 liquid biofuels (following concerns over their potential adverse effects on crop prices, food supply, forest protection, biodiversity, water and soil resources). On 6 June 2012, the European Commission presented a Communication Renewable energy: a major player in the European energy market (COM(2012) 271 final), 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 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 final). A report on the sustainability of solid and gaseous biofuels used for electricity, heating and cooling (SWD(2014) 259) was adopted in July 2014.

One of the 10 priorities of the European Commission put forward in 2014 is an energy union. This is designed to 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 final). The Communication proposes five dimensions for the strategy, one of which is decarbonising the economy, as covered by a range of policy actions, including: the introduction of national targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions; a roadmap for moving towards low-emission mobility; the goal for the EU to become a world leader in renewable energies. With this in mind, the European Commission presented a package of measures in July 2016, Accelerating Europe’s transition to a low-carbon economy (COM(2016) 500 final).

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