EU on track to meet renewable energy targets – but UK lags behind
EU looks set to meet its 2020 goal of using 20% of energy from renewable sources but the UK is one of three member states to increase reliance on imported energy
UK wholesale electricity prices are the highest in the EU, says the European commission report. Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian
The European Union is on track to meet its renewable energy targets but the UK is one of only three member states to become more dependent on imported energy in the last decade.
A report from the European commission boasts of good progress towards the goal of using 20% of final energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020.
As of 2014, the share of renewables reached 16% of the gross final energy consumption of the EU.
It also finds the EU has managed to significantly reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of its economy and to decouple its economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions. Between 1990 and 2015, the EU’s combined GDP grew by 50%, while emissions decreased by 22%.
“[The EU] is presently one of the most greenhouse gas-efficient major economies, and is set to become the most greenhouse gas-efficient economy in the G20 through the implementation of the 2030 climate and energy targets,” the report says.
However, while for 22 member states total net import dependency decreased between 2005 and 2014, over the same period import dependency significantly increased in Denmark, Poland and the UK “due to the decline of indigenous fossil fuel production”.
Lithuania also became more dependent due to the closure of nuclear plants.
The commission’s Second Report on the State of the Energy Union adds: “Largely driven by falling coal and gas prices, the gradual penetration of renewables into the power sector and subdued demand, wholesale electricity prices decreased in most member states between 2013 and 2015. Regional differences remained significant, with the highest prices in the United Kingdom and southern Europe and the lowest prices in the Scandinavian countries.”
The report also found that 11 of the EU’s 28 member states have not yet reached the target of 10% of their energy production being connected to other member states. Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania and the UK are said to need “to continue their efforts” to improve interconnectivity. The commission believes connecting Europe’s electricity systems will allow the EU to boost its security of electricity supply and to integrate more renewable energy.
Energy poverty also remains an issue in many member states. On average, energy-related costs made up 8.6% of low-income households’ expenditure in the EU. This share has increased for most EU countries since 2005.