Renewable energy statistics
From Statistics Explained
- Data from March 2014. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: March 2015.
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.
- 1 Main statistical findings
- 2 Data sources and availability
- 3 Context
- 4 See also
- 5 Further Eurostat information
- 6 External links
Main statistical findings
The primary production of renewable energy within the EU-28 in 2012 was 177.3 million tonnes of oil equivalent (toe) — a 22.3 % share of total primary energy production from all sources. The quantity of renewable energy produced within the EU-28 increased overall by 81.3 % between 2002 and 2012, equivalent to an average increase of 6.1 % per year.
Among renewable energies, the most important source in the EU-28 was biomass and renewable waste, accounting for just under two thirds (65.5 %) of primary renewables production in 2012 (see Table 1). Hydropower was the other main contributor to the renewable energy mix (16.2 % 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 10.0 % and 5.1 % respectively of the EU-28’s renewable energy produced in 2012. The remaining shares were 3.2 % 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 2012 was Germany, with an 18.6 % share of the total; France (11.7 %), Sweden (10.4 %) and Italy (10.1 %) were the only other EU Member States to record double-digit shares. 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 (62.5 %) of the renewable energy produced in Cyprus was from solar energy, while more than a third of the renewable energy in the relatively mountainous countries of Austria, Slovenia and Croatia was from hydropower. More than one quarter (27.7 %) 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 (46.3 %) and also accounted for more than one fifth of renewable energy production in Portugal, the United Kingdom, Denmark and Spain.
The output of renewable energy in Malta grew at an average rate of 22.7 % per year between 2002 and 2012, 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, Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom, with Luxembourg and Cyprus just below this level.
Renewable energy sources accounted for an 11.0 % share of the EU-28’s gross inland energy consumption in 2012 (see Table 2). Over one third of the energy consumed in Sweden (37.2 %) and Latvia (36.4 %) was derived from renewables in 2012, while the relative importance of renewables was also high in Austria (30.1 %), Finland (29.2 %) and Denmark (23.3 %).
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 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 14.1 % in the EU-28 in 2012.
Among the EU Member States, the highest share of renewables in gross final energy consumption in 2012 was recorded in Sweden (51.0 %), 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 2012, the targets for 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 10.0 percentage points. By contrast, Denmark, Sweden, Bulgaria and Estonia had already surpassed their targets for 2020.
The latest information available for 2012 (see Figure 2) shows that electricity generated from renewable energy sources contributed almost one quarter (23.5 %) of the EU-28’s gross electricity consumption. In Austria (65.5 %) and Sweden (60.0 %) 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 2002 to 2012 (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 2012 (54.1 % of the total), the amount of electricity generated in this way in 2012 was relatively similar to that a decade earlier, rising by just 3.9 % overall. By contrast, the quantity of electricity generated from biomass (including renewable waste) more than doubled, while that from wind turbines increased more than fivefold between 2002 and 2012. The relative shares of wind turbines and biomass in the total quantity of electricity generated from renewable energy sources rose to 30.4 % and 4.1 % respectively in 2012. The growth in electricity from solar power was even more dramatic, rising from just 0.3 TWh in 2002 to overtake geothermal energy in 2008 and biomass and renewable waste in 2011 to reach a level of 71.0 TWh in 2012, some 252 times as high as 10 years earlier. Over this 10-year period, the contribution of solar power to all electricity generated from renewable energy sources rose from 0.1 % to 10.5 %. Tide, wave and ocean power contributed just 0.07 % of the total electricity generated from renewable energy sources in the EU-28 in 2012.
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 5.1 % in 2012, ranging from a high of 12.6 % in Sweden to less than 0.5 % in Spain, Croatia, Portugal, Finland, Bulgaria, Estonia and Cyprus (see Figure 4).
Data sources and availability
The statistics presented in this article are calculated on the basis of energy statistics covered by Regulation (EC) 1099/2008 on energy statistics.
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 some renewable energy technologies is not yet fully developed to meet the requirements of this Directive; for example, the 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).
The EU has set out plans for a new energy strategy based on 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 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).
On 6 June 2012, the European Commission presented a Communication titled, ‘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 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. These objectives are seen as a step towards meeting the greenhouse gas emissions targets for 2050. One of the key targets proposed is for the share of renewable energy to reach at least 27 % by 2030.
- Consumption of energy
- Electricity production, consumption and market overview
- Energy from renewable sources
- Energy production and imports
- Energy introduced
- Sustainable development - climate change and energy
- The EU in the world - energy
Further Eurostat information
- Energy balance sheets — 2010-2011
- Energy, transport and environment indicators — 2012 edition
- Panorama of energy: energy statistics to support EU policies and solutions
- Renewable energy, Statistics in focus, issue number 44/2012
- Energy (t_nrg), see:
- Energy statistics - Main indicators (t_nrg_indic)
- Share of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption (t2020_31)
- Electricity generated from renewable sources (tsdcc330)
- Combined heat and power generation (tsdcc350)
- Energy statistics - quantities (t_nrg_quant)
- Total production of primary energy (ten00076)
- Primary production of renewable energy (ten00081)
- Share of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption (tsdcc110)
- Gross inland consumption of energy (ten00086)
- Gross inland energy consumption, by fuel (tsdcc320)
- Total gross electricity generation (ten00087)
- Energy dependence (tsdcc310)
- Share of renewable energy in fuel consumption of transport (tsdcc340)
- Energy (nrg), see:
- Energy statistics - main indicators (nrg_indic)
- Share of energy from renewable sources (nrg_ind_335a)
- Energy statistics - quantities, annual data (nrg_quant)
- Energy statistics - supply, transformation, consumption (nrg_10)
- Supply, transformation, consumption - renewable energies - annual data (nrg_107a)
- Supply, transformation, consumption - wastes (non-renewable) - annual data (nrg_108a)
- Energy statistics - infrastructure (nrg_11)
- Energy statistics - supply, transformation, consumption (nrg_10)
Methodology / Metadata
- Energy Statistics Manual
- Energy statistics - quantities, annual data (ESMS metadata file — nrg_quant_esms)
- Energy statistics - main indicators (ESMS metadata file — nrg_indic_esms)
Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)
- European Commission — Energy — Renewable Energy
- International Energy Agency (IEA) — Renewable Energy
- Europe's Energy Portal