How Europe is faring on renewable energy targets

The European Union's use of renewable energy—such as hydropower, wind and solar—reached 17.5 percent in 2017
The European Union's use of renewable energy—such as hydropower, wind and solar—reached 17.5 percent in 2017

The European Union's use of renewable energy—such as hydropower, wind and solar—reached 17.5 percent in 2017, keeping it on track for a target of 20 percent by 2020.

Each member state has its own renewable energy goal, based on its situation and potential, ranging from 10 to 49 percent.

While 11 countries in the bloc have already surpassed their targets, others are lagging behind, according to EU statistics authority Eurostat.

With the target for 2030 at 32 percent, Eurostat says: "While the EU as a whole is on course to meet its 2020 targets, some member states will need to make additional efforts to meet their obligations."

Sweden: champion of Europe

Europe's renewable energy leaders are Nordic countries: Sweden, Finland and Denmark.

Since 2012 more than half of the total energy consumed in Sweden has come from renewable sources, according to the International Energy Agency.

This is due in large part to , which provides more than 40 percent of the country's electricity output. Swedes heat themselves mainly with biofuels.

Denmark—a small, flat country long dependent on energy imports—now gets 43 percent of its electricity from after investment starting in the late 1970s when it began phasing out .

The Netherlands: lagging behind

Luxembourg and the Netherlands are the EU countries with the lowest consumption of renewables, reaching 6.4 percent and 6.6 percent respectively.

Despite its investment in offshore wind farms, the Netherlands is the furthest from reaching its targets. Yet, with a part of the country lying below sea level, it is particularly vulnerable to the consequences of climate change.

In 2015 the Netherlands was one of the first countries to rule on a climate case, with a court ordering the state to reduce national greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25 percent by 2020.

France: nuclear preference

Inspired by the Dutch decision, four environmental NGOs in March sued the French government for failing to uphold its commitments on fighting climate change.

In 2017 France reached 16.3 percent of energy consumption from renewables, compared to its 23 percent target for 2020.

Wood and hydropower are the main sources of green energy in France, ahead of biofuels.

France has long preferred investment in , from which it gets more than 70 percent of its electricity.

The government has committed to closing 14 nuclear reactors by 2035 and shutting down four still-active power plants by 2022, on condition that it can guarantee secure electricity supplies.

Germany: between coal and wind

Germany's renewable energy, which comes mainly from wind and solar power, reached just 15.5 percent in 2017, while its 2020 objective is set at 18 percent.

Coal remains the cornerstone of its policy, in part due to the government's decision in 2011 to shut down all nuclear plants by 2022.

Coal accounts for 37 percent of Germany's electricity production and more than 30 percent of its heating.

Europe's biggest economy intends to progressively phase out coal in order to respect its commitment to reducing polluting emissions. A new framework law on protecting the climate is expected in 2019.

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© 2019 AFP

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User comments

Apr 01, 2019
The target should emission reduction,
and in this requisite, solar and wind are a trillion-euro fiasco.
Intermittent renewables(bird-choppers/land-intensive monstrosities) have caused more ecological impacts/environmental damages than reduced emissions.

"Emissions alarm in Europe: CO2 Readings Going The Wrong Way" thanks to intermittent renewables
"Germans, Danes and Belgians pay the most for their electricity in Europe" thanks to intermittent renewables.
"As Renewables Drive Up Energy Prices, Voters In U.S., Asia & Europe Are Opting For Nuclear Power" - Nov 2018

Apr 01, 2019
...hydropower, wind and solar...
"A mix of hydro and nuclear works. Hydro happens to fall into the "renewables" category. And is alternately included and excluded, in the data when convenient by RE fans. Hydro is doing most of the heavy lifting with regard to any contribution by RE."

"Most fans of renewable energy explicitly reject renewable hydroelectricity if it involves damming a river. Most renewable energy-lovers are also dam-haters."
"Europe is demolishing its dams to restore ecosystems" - May 2018
"Sierra Club opposes climate-friendly nuclear and hydroelectric energy"
"Hydroelectric dam threatens to wipe out world's rarest ape" - Mar 4, 2019

Apr 01, 2019
...four environmental NGOs in March sued the French...
These NGOs have nothing to do with protecting environment and reducing emissions. They are a bunch of psychotics/paranoids/schizophrenics brainwashed/commanded by green sociopaths with vested interests.
Faux-greens organizations should be judged NOT by their "good intentions" but by the results of their actions: ruination of natural landscapes, disruption of wildlife habitats, massacre of millions of birds and bats, just to favor coal/oil/gas/fracking (backup for intermittent renewables) over Hydro and carbon-free nuclear.

"The Dirty Secret Of Renewables Advocates Is That They Protect Fossil Fuel Interests, Not The Climate" - Mar 28, 2019
"...Greenpeace ... rakes in $350 million annually...crashes drones into nuclear plants...keep their donors secret..."

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