On the path to a low-carbon society, the European Union has formulated various interim energy objectives to be realised by 2020 and 2030. In a report, a consortium of 14 European research organisations, the ‘European Topic Centre on Air Quality and Climate Change’, tests these objectives against the estimated emissions of greenhouse gases and the progress being made in the area of renewable energy.
The report by the consortium shows that the total European share of renewable energy consumption has increased only slightly in recent years: from 14.1 percent in 2012 to 14.9 percent in 2013. However, the ‘what if?’ scenario used by the partners clearly shows the impact of European efforts on renewable energy. What if we were to use no renewable energy? What would we gain by doing so?
In 2012, the growing availability of renewable energy eliminated 326 megatonnes of CO2 emissions in Europe; in 2013, this rose to no less than 388 megatons. Without the added value of renewable energy sources since 2005, European consumption of fossil fuels in 2012 would have been 7 percent higher.
The thematic consortium expects that the share of renewable energy in daily European energy consumption will increase by 20 and 27 percent respectively by 2020 and 2030, in line with the objectives proposed by the European Commission's ‘Energy Roadmap 2050’. Yet things need to proceed at a much faster pace if a low carbon society is to be achieved. In fact these percentages must increase by 55 to 75 percent by 2050.
On the basis of models VITO developed for the consortium, the in-situ data from the 28 European Member States was combined to form a statistically comprehensive picture. In particular, for each of these countries it examined the total share of renewable energy in their primary energy consumption.