EU sees sharp annual increase in renewable energy consumption

The Directive 2009/28 states that the EU 27 Member States should achieve an overall 20% share of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption across Europe. It has set a binding individual target for each country by 2020.

EurObserv’ER is monitoring the progress of each Member State in achieving these targets. The estimates are the first to be published for 2012.

Calculating the renewable energy share for each member country is a delicate task. The results are estimations made by the EurObserv’ER consortium, based on the information gathered over the past year by the project team.

The preliminary estimates put the renewable energy share of gross final energy consumption for the EU at 14.4% in 2012, compared to 13.1% in 2011, which is a 1.3 % increase.

 Several reasons support this sharp rise in the EU’s renewable energy share. They include:

  • The incorporation of sustainability criteria in the biofuel consumption calculations for the first time increased the total renewable energy consumption in 2012. According to the Renewable Energy Directive, these criteria must be met if the consumption is to be eligible for inclusion. Several EU countries did not apply these sustainability criteria or only partly certified their consumption in 2011. The certified proportion of biofuel was much higher in 2012, which mechanically increased the renewable share. Also, Member States may now include part of their heat output from reversible air-to-air heat pumps. This change significantly increased the output figures for a number of countries, with Italy significantly benefiting from this change.
  • The exceptionally mild 2011 winter resulted in lower wood consumption for heating across the EU. Wood is the main form of renewable energy used in Europe. In 2012, the weather returned to normal conditions and prompted a catch-up phenomenon, which considerably increased wood consumption for heating purposes.

  • In 2012, the EU 27 witnessed an increase in the electricity and heat production capacities via wind energy, solar photovoltaic, and biogas and solid biomass, the latter primarily through the development of biomass co-firing and cogeneration. This growth essentially stems from capacities commissioned in 2011 and reaching full potential in 2012. However, the increase in hydropower output across the EU had little impact on the final results, as hydropower output has standardized over the past 15 years.
  •  The total consumption of final energy (renewable or otherwise) continued to decrease in 2012 due to the recession. The estimated drop is 8 million ton of oil equivalent (MMtoe)―from 1 133.3 MMtoe in 2011 to 125.2 MMtoe in 2012. At the same time, the final renewable energy consumption increased by 13.4 MMtoe (from 148.8 MMtoe to 162.2 MMtoe).

EurObserv’ER will publish more refined estimates in its annual publication, The State of Renewable Energy in Europe, which will be available soon.

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