Renewable Energy Production

In 2020 the EU reached 22.1% share of renewables in gross final energy consumption which has more than doubled since 2004 (9.6%). The growth in electricity generated from renewable energy sources can be attributed to the legally binding targets enacted by Directive 2009/28/EC for increasing the share of energy from renewable sources and COVID-19 decreasing the fossil fuel consumption.[1]

Share of energy from renewable sources, 2020

Source: Eurostat, 2020[2]

Renewable Source Shares

The share of energy from renewable sources is segmented into three areas: electricity; heating and cooling; and transport.


Wind and hydro power accounted for two thirds of total electricity from renewable sources. Solar power, solid biofuels, and other renewables accounted for the remaining amount. The following are the percentages of each:

  • Wind 36%
  • Hydro 33%
  • Solar 14%
  • Solid Biofuels 8%
  • Other renewables 8%[3]

There has been a dramatic growth in electricity from solar power, which increased from 7.4 TWh in 2008 to 144.2 TWh in 2020.[4]

Heating and Cooling

In 2020, of the total energy use for heating and cooling, 23.1% came from renewable energy, an increase from 11.4% in 2004. This increase can be attributed to developments in the industrial sector, services and households.[5]


The EU established a renewable energy target of 10% in the transportation sector by 2020. With respect to transport activities, the average share of energy from renewable sources increased from 1.6 % in 2004 to 10.2% in 2020. Sweden accounts for the largest share of renewable energy in transport fuel consumption, followed by Finland and Austria. The most widely used renewable energy source in transportation are liquid biofuels. Biodiesel is the liquid biofuel that is most widely produced, followed by biogasoline and other liquid biofuels.[6]

Renewable Energy Directive & National Renewable Energy Action Plans

The Renewable Energy Directive established an overall policy for the production and marketing of energy from renewable sources in the EU. The EU’s deployment of renewables has reached more than 22% in 2020. In July 2021, another revision was made to accelerate the uptake of renewables and help to reach the 2030 energy and climate objectives. The common target of 32% was set for the amount of renewable energy in the EU’s energy consumption by 2030.[7] The Directive specifies national renewable energy targets for every Member state, accounting for starting points and overall potential for renewables. As such, targets vary from a low of 10% in Malta to a high of 49% in Sweden.[8] EU countries set out to meet these targets in their national renewable energy action plans.

What Is the EU’s Renewable Energy Road Map?

The Energy Roadmap 2050 was published and adopted by the European Commission in December 2011. Per this roadmap, the EU aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80-95% below 1990 levels by 2050. This roadmap looks at the challenges posed by delivering the EU’s decarbonization objective and at the same time tries to guarantee the security of energy supply and competitiveness. The Energy Roadmap 2050 is the basis for developing a long-term European framework together with applicable stakeholders.[9]

In 2014, the European Commission established updated goals for 2030 at their meeting in Brussels. The interim goals were set up to establish a framework for the period 2020-2030 to reach the targets established in the 2050 Energy Roadmap.

In 2022, EU leaders within the European Council agreed to phase out Europe’s dependency on Russian energy. The Commission was encouraged to put forward a detailed REPowerEU plan. The plan aims to lower gas consumption by 30% by 2030. The Commission also proposed to increase to 13% binding target in the Energy Efficiency Directive.[10]

What Is the EU Emission Trading System?

The EU Emission Trading System (ETS) is a system that limits overall emissions from covered installations. Within these limits, firms can buy and sell emission allowances as necessary. The system is a large part of the EU’s policy to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is the world’s first major carbon market and remains the biggest one. The ETS has proven to be effective in emissions reductions with installations covered by ETS reducing emissions by 35% between 2005 and 2019.[11] [12] Approximately 45% of total EU greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are regulated by the system. By capping GHG emissions from major industries, the ETS establishes incentives for firms to invest in technologies that reduce emissions. Further, revenues from the sale of allowances are used to fund large-scale demonstration projects in carbon capture and storage and renewable energy technologies.[13]

The EU ETS data viewer gives users easy access to emission trading data contained in the European Union Transaction Log (EUTL), which includes data for each country, sector, and year.[14]

How Does the EU Approach Energy Efficiency?

The revised 2021 Renewable Energy Directive stipulates an energy efficiency target of at least 32.5% by 2030.[15] The EU has adopted various methods to improve energy efficiency in Europe including:

  • An annual reduction of 1.5% in national energy sales
  • EU countries make energy efficient renovations to at least 3% of buildings owned and occupied by central governments per year
  • National long-term renovation strategies for the building stock in each country
  • Mandatory energy efficiency certificates accompanying building sales and rentals
  • Minimum energy efficiency standards and labeling of consumer products
  • Preparation and publication of National Energy Efficiency Action Plans every three years
  • Large companies perform energy audits every four years
  • Consumers receive easy access to data on real-time and historical energy consumption
  • Planned fielding of about 200 million smart meters for electricity and 45 million for gas by 2020[16]

The Commission has published guidelines on good practice, related to energy efficiency[17]

The 2022 report on the state of the energy union highlights the challenges the energy sector has faced in the past year and the progress made in addressing short-term and long-term climate goals. The highlights of the report are listed below.

  • all EU countries have implemented measures to tackle higher energy prices
  • the EU has already surpassed 91% of gas in storage
  • Russian pipeline gas in EU imports has dropped from 41% in 2021 to 9% in September 2022
  • Liquefied Natural Gas accounts for 32% of EU total gas imports
  • The EU generated 12% of electricity from solar and 13% from wind
  • The share of renewables used for electricity is expected to grow from 37% in 2021 to 69% in 2030
  • In 2020, the EU surpassed target emissions reduction (32%), energy efficiency (5-6%) lower than 20% target), and renewables (22.1%)[18]

 Energy Statistical Pocketbook

The Energy Statistical Pocketbook 2022 provides the most relevant annual energy-related statistics for the European Union and each of its member states. The data comes from Eurostat and other European Commission sectors, the European Environment Agency, and the International Energy Agency.

Updated by Erin Bennett October 2022