Official data from the EU and the UK government have this week underlined the growing strength of the continent’s renewables industry, confirming renewable energy delivered almost 17 per cent of the EU’s energy during 2015.
The EU’s statistics agency Eurostat released an update detailing how the bloc is on track to meet its target to source 20 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2020, with 11 member states having already met their national targets for the end of the decade.
Sweden led the way, comfortably beating its national target with more than 50 per cent of its energy coming from renewables in 2015. In addition, Denmark, Finland, Portugal, Latvia and Austria all performed strongly with well over 20 per cent of their energy coming from renewables.
In contrast, the Netherlands and France were highlighted for having the longest way to go to meet their 2020 targets, with their 2015 performance falling 8.2 and 7.3 percentage points short of the 2020 target, respectively.
The UK also has a lot of ground to make up with its 2015 performance falling 6.8 percentage points short of its 15 per cent renewables share target.
However, while concerns remain about the UK’s ability to meet the target, primarily due to slow progress in the roll out of renewable heat and transport technologies, a separate government update yesterday underscored the rapid progress the renewable power industry is making.
The Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy released its annual update to its energy and emissions projections, confirming that it expects low carbon energy to play an increasingly dominant role in the UK energy mix.
The report said that based on current energy policies it expects emissions from the power sector to more than halve between 2015 and 2020 to 54 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. At the same time low carbon generation is projected to climb from 47 per cent of the generation mix in 2015 to 61 per cent by the end of the decade.
Meanwhile, energy efficiency measures are expected to result in a one per cent fall in power demand, continuing a long running trend that is due to see primary energy demand fall six per cent over the next 10 years.
The report also said that projected UK emissions through to 2035 are likely to be slightly lower than previously thought, as the government is now expecting to see lower levels of emissions from land use and industry compared to its 2015 projections.
However, the report confirms the government still expects the UK to fall short against its carbon targets for the late 2020s and early 2030s based on current policies, and reiterates that Ministers will soon come forward with new plans detailing how they intend to increase the pace of decarbonisation over the next 15 years.
The EU and UK data came just ahead of the latest report from the UK government’s Committee on Climate Change, which argued the country was delivering significant cuts in carbon emissions without driving up energy bills.
The report also suggested increasingly cost effective renewable technologies were playing a role in pushing down bills by introducing more competition to the energy market.
“This report highlights the fact that the UK’s low-carbon sector is growing faster than the rest of the economy, already employing hundreds of thousands of people and contributing two to three per cent of GDP, which is comparable in size to energy-intensive manufacturing,” said Emma Pinchbeck, executive director at trade body RenewableUK. “With Government looking to invest in industries of the future through the Industrial Strategy, the CCC’s findings clearly demonstrate that wind and marine energy should be priorities.”