European countries are expected to significantly boost renewable energy capacities over the next decade, if they meet projections based on their plans.
03 November 2011
EU renewables to experience exponential growth
European countries are expected to
significantly boost renewable energy
capacities over the next decade. If the
countries meet projections based on their
plans to install renewable energy, growth rate
of wind, solar, marine, geothermal capacities
will be exponential, shows a new report of the
European Environment Agency (EEA).
Concentrated solar power plant, Seville, Spain. © Pablo
Offshore wind energy capacity in Europe is projected to increase 17-fold between 2010 and 2020,
while newer renewable technologies such as concentrated solar power and marine power will also
increase more than 11-fold, says the EEA report.
For instance, onshore wind would increase from 82 gigawatts (GW) in 2010 to 169 GW by 2020,
offshore wind from 2.6 to 44 GW, solar photovoltaic from 25 to 54 GW, concentrated solar from 0.6
to 7.0 GW, marine from 0.2 to 2.3 GW and geothermal from 0.8. to 1.6 GW. Hydropower will
increase from 122 to 140 GW and biomass power from 23 to 44 GW.
The latest update shows the diversity of approaches to meeting the EU's collective target of 20
percent of energy from renewable sources by 2020. According to the latest figures, 11.7 percent of
energy used in the EU came from renewable sources in 2009.
Despite these growth rates, the 2020 targets will be met by just a narrow margin according to the
projections, highlighting the challenge facing Europe as it aims to reduce its dependency on fossil
This analysis illustrates the scale of Europe's commitment to transform its energy sector, according
to Jacqueline McGlade, EEA Executive Director. "However, with a concerted effort we can and
should go even further to phase in renewable energy sources."
"Burning fossil fuels threaten the stability of our climate, and our most recent analysis has shown
that pollution from coal and gas power plants is costing Europe many billions of euros a year in
health costs," Professor McGlade said.
Approximately 43 percent of all renewable energy production is planned for heating and cooling,
with biomass accounting for 80 percent renewable heating and cooling output. Transport will make
up the smallest proportion of renewable energy consumption (12 percent), but is expected to be the
fastest growing element between 2005 and 2020.
EU member states have individual targets, and must submit National Renewable Energy Action
Plans (NREAPs) to the European Commission outlining how they expect to meet their 2020
renewable target, including the technology mix they intend to use and the trajectory they will
The update to the database comes a year after EU Member States submitted information describing
how they would meet their targets in 2020. The accompanying report has also been updated, with
the latest information for 20 Member States, additional data on biomass and data on land use for
EU countries plan massive offshore wind power
Renewables surpass fossils in investments
EU-Mediterranean solar cooperation to advance
Renewable energy becoming cost competitive