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EU targets mean huge renewable energy growth this decade

If projections for EU renewable energy developments are realised, the European market is set for huge growth this decade, according to the European Energy Agency (EEA).

By Kari Williamson

Offshore wind energy capacity in Europe is projected to increase 17-fold between 2010 and 2020, while concentrated solar power (CSP) and wave and tidal power will increase more than 11-fold according to projections.

European countries are also expected to significantly boost solar photovoltaic (PV) power, onshore wind and other renewable technologies over the next decade.

The projections are based on European countries’ plans to install renewable energy sources, which have been analysed by the European Environment Agency (EEA).

The latest update shows the diversity of approaches to meeting the EU’s collective target of 20 % of energy from renewable sources by 2020. According to the latest figures, 11.7 % of energy used in the EU came from renewable sources in 2009.

“This analysis is particularly timely, coming as government representatives gather to discuss climate change in Durban. It illustrates the scale of Europe’s commitment to transform its energy sector,” says Jacqueline McGlade, EEA Executive Director.

“However, with a concerted effort we can and should go even further to phase in renewable energy sources. Burning fossil fuels threaten the stability of our climate, and our most recent analysis has shown that pollution from coal and gas power plants is costing Europe many billions of euros a year in health costs.”

Despite the projected growth rates, the 2020 targets will be met by just a narrow margin according to the EEA, highlighting the challenge facing Europe as it aims to reduce its dependency on fossil fuels.

Approximately 43 % of all renewable energy production is planned for heating and cooling, with biomass accounting for 80 % renewable heating and cooling output. Transport will make up the smallest proportion of renewable energy consumption (12 %), but is expected to be the fastest growing element between 2005 and 2020.

 

Renewable electricity projections

Technology
Installed capacity 2010 according to NREAP projections (gigawatts, GW)
Aggregated projection for 2020 (GW)
% change
Onshore wind
82.2
168.8
104
Offshore wind
2.6
44.2
1 600
Tidal, wave and ocean energy
0.2
2.3
1 050
Hydroelectric (excluding pumped storage)
122.4
139.7
14
Solar photovoltaic
25.5
54.4
231
Geothermal
0.8
1.6
100
Concentrated solar power
0.6
7.0
1 066
Biomass electricity
22.6
43.6
93

Renewable heating/cooling projections

Technology
Installed capacity 2010 according to NREAP projections (million tonnes oil equivalent, Mtoe)
Aggregated projection for 2020 (Mtoe)
% change
Geothermal
0.7
2.6
271
Solar thermal
1.4
6.3
350
Biomass
61.7
90.4
47
Heat pumps
4.0
12.2
205
 

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