• Several nations in the European Union have been able to grow exponentially in the renewable energy space thanks to their over-subsidized markets
  • After initial support was reduced, EU renewable energy growth slowed down as investor confidence dampened, according to a report of the European Court of Auditors (ECA)
  • The ECA recommends European Union member nations to encourage growth of renewables to be able to meet their 20% RE targets by 2020 through competitive auctions and increased citizen participation
  • Further deployment of renewables should also be supported through citizen participation

The renewable energy share in the European Union (EU) grew from around 15% in 2005 to almost 31% in 2017, with solar PV and wind power capacity leading the wave. The growth has been pushed by the EU’s 20/20 target – a 20% binding renewable energy target for each of the member nations to be achieved by 2020. Now, a report by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) says since 2014 there has been a slowdown in the growth – in consequence, half of the member states will not achieve their 2020 targets.

The report is titled ‘Wind and solar power for electricity generation: significant action needed if EU targets to be met’. It suggests, the European Commission must encourage members to support further deployment of renewables through competitive auctions to allocate additional renewables capacity and also promote citizen participation.

Initially, to encourage their energy markets to adopt renewables, several EU countries introduced support schemes that were over-subsidized so that electricity prices went up or  contributed to state deficits. Thanks to this, while around half of the 28 member states were able to reach or were close to reaching their 2020 target by 2017, the others are facing significant challenges in meeting these goals in time. That’s because post 2014 support was often reduced, which lead to dampening of investor sentiment and discouraged market growth.

“Encouraging auctions and the use of citizen participation are crucial for increasing investment and enhancing conditions for deployment, such as overcoming restrictive spatial planning rules, lengthy administrative procedures and grid insufficiencies,” according to the ECA report.

While the Clean Energy Package cleared in May 2019 by the European Union Council of Ministers gives hope that renewables will fare better in the future as it creates a better investment environment for the region that aims to reach a 32%share  of renewable energy by 2030, the authors of the report believe the lack of national targets may spoil that party (see Clean Energy Package Formally Cleared).

In order for the EU to reach its targets, the ECA recommends:

  1. a focus on closing gaps to meet the 2020 targets;
  2. improvement in timelines of statistical data on renewables;
  3. holding sufficient auctions to increase renewable capacity for electricity;
  4. creation of a more favourable environment for renewable electricity generation through simplification of administrative procedures;
  5. promotion for investment in grid infrastructure and interconnectors; and
  6. better monitoring to mitigate the absence of binding national targets.

The report is available free of charge on the ECA website.