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Can We Trust The Statistics The EU Gives Us On Renewable Energy Targets?

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Euan Mearns, Energy Matters

This post examines EU renewable energy targets and how the various member states are doing in meeting the targets agreed for 2020. It has been found that the compliance data published by Eurostat do not agree with the raw Eurostat or BP statistics.

On April 23, 2009 the European Parliament issued Directive 2009/28/EC, which committed the European Union to obtaining 20% of its energy – note energy, not electricity – from renewable sources by 2020. Figure 1 summarizes the progress individual EU countries had made towards their individual 2020 targets as of the end of 2013, the last year for which data are available from Eurostat, the EU’s official record-keeper. (Only 21 of the 28 EU countries are discussed here because data for Estonia, Croatia, Cyprus, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta and Slovenia are incomplete. Renewables generation in these countries is, however, minimal):

EURenewablesCompliance2013

Figure 1: Compliance with EU renewables directive targets as of end 2013, data from Eurostat “overall share of energy from renewable resources

With seven years to go Sweden, Bulgaria and Lithuania had already met or exceeded their 2020 targets, Romania, Italy, the Czech Republic, Finland and Austria were within a percent or so of meeting theirs and all the countries between Denmark and Germany were estimated to be on a “trajectory” that would bring them into compliance before 2020. The EU as a whole was within 5% of its collective 20% target and was, and still is, expected to meet it.

At the bottom, however, are four laggard countries that were and still are projected to miss their targets – Ireland, France, the Netherlands and, ignominiously bringing up the rear, the UK.

How did the UK end up down there?

One reason is the target the UK set itself. For whatever reason the UK agreed to increase its renewables share more than any other EU country. When it signed onto the EU directive in 2009 renewables supplied only 3% of the UK’s energy, so the 15% target the UK committed to, represented an effective increase of 12%. France, Ireland and the Netherlands, the other three laggard countries, also committed to effective increases of 10% or more. Germany and Italy, however, committed to effective increases of only 8%, Spain to only 7% and Austria and Sweden to less than 4%. Effective increases by country are summarized in Figure 2:

EffectiveIncrease20092020

Figure 2Effective increase in percent renewables between 2009 and 2020 committed to by EU countries, calculated as 2020 target minus percent renewables in 2009

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