EU well on the way to meeting 2020 renewable energy target
The EU is on track to meet its target of 20% renewable energy by 2020: this is one of the key messages in the European Commission's second State of the Energy Union report, which was released on 1 February 2017. However, EU countries will need to maintain their efforts to reach their national renewable energy targets. Increased use of renewable energy is integral to the EU's Energy Union strategy, and brings benefits for the environment, consumers, Europe's energy security and the European economy as a whole.
The Renewable Energy Directive set individual renewable energy targets for all EU countries that take into account their positions and potential to use more renewable energy. Meeting these individual targets will allow the EU as a whole to reach its 2020 target of 20% renewable energy, and the State of the Energy Union report now shows that Europe is well on the way to achieving this. In 2015, 25 of the 28 EU countries exceeded their national indicative trajectories: some have even surpassed their targets for 2020 already. The EU 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy also sets a further binding target that at least 27% of the energy used in the EU by 2030 should be renewable. The 'Clean Energy for All Europeans' package published by the Commission on 30 November 2016 includes a proposal for a recast Renewable Energy Directive that will provide the right framework for EU countries to meet this goal collectively and in a cost-effective way.
Renewables are crucial for Europe's energy security: their estimated contribution to fossil fuel import savings in 2015 in the EU was €16bn, and it is projected to be €58bn in 2030. They are also key to decarbonising Europe's economy. In 2015, they contributed to reducing EU greenhouse gas emissions by 436 MtCO2eq, the equivalent of the emissions of Italy. Increasing renewable use will therefore help the EU meet the commitment it made at the 2016 Climate Change Conference in Paris to contribute to limiting the global rise in temperature to only 1.5°. Renewables also play a major role in making the EU a global leader in innovation: EU countries hold 30% of patents in renewables globally.
In addition, the EU's efforts in promoting the use of renewables have resulted in lowered costs. A number of renewable technologies have now become cost-competitive, and can in some cases be even cheaper than fossil fuels. The renewable energy sector plays a key role in the EU economy, with a turnover of around €144bn in 2014 and more than one million people employed.