Nature and Biodiversity

The best countries in Europe for using renewable energy

A general view shows the PS10 solar plant at "Solucar" solar park in Sanlucar la Mayor, near Seville, October 20, 2010. The solar thermal power plant uses mirrors to concentrate the sun's rays onto towers where they produce steam to drive a turbine, producing electricity. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo (SPAIN - Tags: ENERGY ENVIRONMENT BUSINESS SOCIETY IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTXTMTQ

As a whole, the EU is on track to meet its renewable targets Image: REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo

Alex Gray
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The share of renewables energy used in the EU has risen to almost 17% in 2015. That’s double the 2004 share of 8.5%, and within range of the 2020 target of 20%.

Two years after the financial crisis, the EU put in motion a ten-year jobs and growth strategy, Europe 2020. Among its targets was the aim to source 20% of EU energy needs from renewables by 2020.

A recent news release by Eurostat, the statistics arm of the European Union, has revealed the progress different countries within Europe are making towards their targets.

As a whole, the EU is on the right track, with the share of renewables increasing in 22 of the 28 member states over the last year. However, not all members are performing equally.

Image: Eurostat

Which countries are performing the best?

The good news is that 11 member states have already achieved their 2020 targets. Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Croatia, Estonia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, Italy, Czech Republic and Hungary have all met or exceeded their national targets.

Other countries are tantalisingly close: Austria and Slovakia are only about 1% below their 2020 target.

But others are way off. Major European economies like Germany, France and the UK have not yet met their targets.

The Netherlands is 8.2 percentage points from reaching its national 2020 objective, France trails by 7.8 points, Ireland and the United Kingdom by 6.8, and Luxembourg by 6. Germany is a narrower 3.4 percentage points off its target.


Who has the highest share of renewables?

The highest share of renewables can be found in Sweden, at a considerable 53.9%. Next on the list is Finland (39.3%), Latvia (37.6%), Austria (33.0%) and Denmark (30.8%).

The countries with the smallest share of renewables are Luxembourg and Malta (both 5%), the Netherlands (5.8%), Belgium (7.9%) and the United Kingdom (8.2%).

Image: Eurostat

What is the Europe 2020 strategy?

There are five main areas of the Europe 2020 strategy: employment; research and development; climate/energy; education; social inclusion and poverty reduction.

Among other climate targets are limiting greenhouse gas emissions by 20% or even 30%, and increasing our energy efficiency by 20%, compared to 1990 levels.

Reducing greenhouse emissions is a major part of the reason behind the 2020 targets, but they're also aimed at ensuring that Europe has a secure energy supply and a reduced reliance on energy imports. It would also contribute to Europe’s industrial innovation and technological leadership, says the EU.

While the EU as a whole is on course to meet its 2020 targets, some member states will need to make additional efforts.

Member States have already agreed on a new EU renewable energy target of at least 27% by 2030.

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