• EU’s renewable energy target in the region’s gross energy consumption is 20% by 2020, but at the end of 2018 it achieved only 18%
  • Eurostat says 12 member states have achieved equal or more than their binding national targets
  • At the end of 2018, Sweden had the highest share of renewable energy with 54.6%, and the Netherlands had the lowest with 7.4%
  • Romania, Hungary, Austria and Portugal are closest to achieving their binding national targets, while the Netherlands, France, Ireland, the UK and Slovenia are furthest away
  • However, Hungary and Romania had already met their 2020 EU targets in 2017, but fell back in 2018

The 28 member nations of the European Union (EU) achieved a share of 18% of combined renewable energy in their gross final energy consumption at the end of 2018, increasing it from 17.5% a year back (see 2020 RE Target Achieved By 11 EU Nations). The data comes from the statistical office of the EU, Eurostat.

The data shows 12 member states—Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Croatia, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Cyprus, Finland and Sweden—have already reached a share equal to or above their national 2020 binding targets. For the entire EU, the target is to have a minimum 20% of its energy coming from renewables by 2020 and 32% by 2030.

When compared to the previous year’s data from Eurostat , it is interesting to see that some of the countries that had already met their 2020 targets in 2017 had fallen back in 2018 – these are Hungary and Romania. The countries that entered the group of EU members states meeting the 2020 targets in 2018 are Cyprus, Lativa and Greece. This group increased from 11 to 12 member states.

Sweden with 54.6% of its total energy consumption in 2018 coming from renewables leads the tally in the latest Eurostat list. Finland, Latvia, Denmark and Austria reported 41.2%, 40.3%, 36.1% and 33.4% renewables share respectively.

The lowest share was seen in the Netherlands as renewables contributed only 7.4% of the total energy consumption. Other laggards are Malta (8.0%), Luxembourg (9.1%) and Belgium (9.4%).

Member states that were closest to achieving their national 2020 targets at the end of 2018 were Romania which needs to bridge the distance of 0.1% point, followed by Hungary, Austria and Portugal at less than 1%pt away, and Germany, Luxembourg and Malta around 2%pt away.

Compared to these, the Netherlands, France, Ireland, the UK and Slovenia are furthest away from their binding targets in the range of 3.9%pt to 6.6%pt. 

Details about the share of each renewable energy source for individual EU nations are available on the Eurostat website. However, the share for solar comprises both photovoltaics as well as thermal.

In its first EU Market Outlook report released in December 2019, European solar PV lobby association SolarPower Europe expects the region to have collectively installed 8.2 GW of solar PV capacity in 2018 increasing it by 104% annually to 16.7 GW in 2019, and forecasts 26% growth in 2020 to 21 GW capacity (see EU PV Demand Up 104% In 2019).

Solar’s star performer for the EU renewables market in 2019, Spain had a 17.4% renewable energy share at the end of 2018. That was still quite some way to go to its 2020 target of 20%. However, the country brought online a record amount of 6.45 GW (AC) renewable energy in 2019 compared to only 330 MW a year back, with solar contributing 3.97 GW (see Spain Installs About 4.6 GW DC New Solar In 2019).