Renewable energy can be produced from a wide variety of sources including wind, solar, hydro, tidal, geothermal, and biomass. By using more renewables to meet its energy needs, the EU lowers its dependence on imported fossil fuels and makes its energy production more sustainable. The renewable energy industry also drives technological innovation and employment across Europe.
2020 renewable energy targets
The EU's original Renewable energy directive (2009/28/EC) sets a binding target of 20% final energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020. To achieve this, EU countries have committed to reaching their own national renewables targets for 2020 ranging from 10% in Malta to 49% in Sweden. They are also each required to have at least 10% of their transport fuels come from renewable sources by 2020.
All EU countries have adopted national renewable energy action plans showing what actions are foreseen to meet their 2020 renewables targets. These plans include sectorial targets for electricity, heating and cooling, and transport; planned policy measures; the different mix of renewables technologies they expect to employ; and the planned use of cooperation mechanisms.
2030 renewable energy targets
In December 2018, the new revised Renewables energy directive (2018/2001) entered into force – establishing a new binding renewable energy target for the EU for 2030 of at least 32%, with a clause for a possible upwards revision by 2023.
The new directive is part of the Clean energy for all Europeans package, aimed at establishing a new stable legislative framework which will facilitate the clean energy transition and help the EU to meet its Paris Agreement commitments on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Under the new Governance regulation, Member States were required to draft 10-year National Energy & Climate Plans (NECPs) by the end of 2019, outlining how they will meet the new 2030 targets for renewable energy and for energy efficiency. The Commission is currently analysing these drafts plans and is mandated to come forward with recommendations where necessary by the end of June 2019. And Member States must then finalise their plans by the end of 2019.
Support schemes for renewables
Public interventions such as support schemes remain necessary to make certain renewable energy technologies competitive. To avoid distorting energy prices and the market however, these schemes should be time-limited and carefully designed. The EU has issued guidance on support schemes to help governments when they design or revise support schemes.
Progress reports towards the 2020 targets
Every two years, the EU publishes a renewable energy progress report.
The fourth State of the energy union report, published in April 2019, includes a renewable energy progress report (COM(2019) 225 final) which concludes that the EU is on track for reaching its target for 2020: in 2017, the share of renewable energy in the EU energy mix reached 17.52%.
Under the Directive 2009/28/EC, the European Commission must keep a 'transparency platform'. This allows public access to national and Commission documents relating to renewable energy.
On 11 April 2019, the European Council (Article 50) decided, in agreement with the United Kingdom, to extend further the two-year period provided for by Article 50(3) of the Treaty on the European Union, until 31 October 2019. Following this decision, and until further notice, any reference in the documents published on this page to 30 March 2019 at 00.00 (CET) or 13 April 2019 at 00.00 (CET) as the withdrawal date of the United Kingdom from the European Union, must be read as referring to 1 November 2019 at 00.00 (CET). Please note that:
(i) in the event that the United Kingdom has not held elections to the European Parliament in accordance with applicable Union law and has not ratified the Withdrawal Agreement by 22 May 2019, the Decision referred to above shall cease to apply on 31 May 2019, and the withdrawal will therefore take place on 1 June 2019; and
(ii) should the United Kingdom ratify the Withdrawal Agreement at any stage before 31 October 2019, the withdrawal will take place on the first day of the month following the completion of the ratification procedures.