EU’s renewable transition starting to 'lose pace'

Although renewables accounted for the vast majority of new EU power capacity in 2016, there are signs that the transition away from fossil fuels has lost some momentum in the past two years.

Biofuels makes up the bulk of renewable energy use in the transport sector, according to newly released European Environment Agency (EEA) figures. Progress in that sector as a whole has been slow however, renewables only accounting for about 7% of energy use in 2015 and 2016. Heating and cooling meanwhile, remains the dominant market sector.

The EEA report Renewable energy in Europe – 2017 update uses official statistics up to 2015 and preliminary estimates for 2016 to provide an overview of progress in renewable energy in Europe. It estimates that renewables accounted for 86% of the EU’s new capacity for electricity generation installed in 2016.

Most EU member states, as well as the Union as a whole, remain on track to reach their renewable energy targets, the report states. However, it also notes that across the EU progress is starting to lose some pace. The share of renewables in the EU energy supply grew from 16.1% in 2014 to 16.7% in 2015, and to a projected 16.9% in 2016. Over the period 2005–2014, the share of renewable energy sources in the EU’s gross final energy consumption increased, on average, by 6.7 % annually. However, in 2015, this growth rate slightly decreased to 6.4 %, and in 2016 to 5.9 %, over the entire period

Significantly, the EU’s share of renewables grew despite a back-to-back increase in in total energy consumption in 2015 and 2016.

According to the figures, the use of renewables varies substantially by country. In Austria, Denmark, Finland, Latvia and Sweden they account for more than 30% of final energy consumption, while in Belgium, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom renewables’ share is less than 9%.

The solid biomass industry along with wind and solar are the largest employers in the EU renewables sector, according to the figures.

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