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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

UK near bottom of table of European countries for meeting 2020 renewable energy targets

The UK and Ireland are the joint third worst countries out of the 28 EU member states for achieving 2020 renewable energy targets, according to statistics from Eurostat released today.

Further decarbonisation action needed ©Shutterstock
Further decarbonisation action needed ©Shutterstock

Britain has an objective of generating 15% of its gross final energy consumption from renewables by the end of the decade, but only achieved 8.2% in 2015, with only the Netherlands and France further behind in their targets.

Despite increased electricity generated from wind power, it is believed that a slow uptake of green energy for heating and transport is slowing the UK’s progress towards a low-carbon economy.

RenewableUK’s executive director, Emma Pinchbeck, told The Actuary: “The UK now gets 25% of its electricity from renewables, thanks to the rapid growth of wind and other clean power sources, and this is set to increase in the decades ahead, as the government has made clear.

“However, the other main pillars of the energy sector – specifically heat and transport – urgently need to be decarbonised too. Further action will be needed in those areas to ensure that the UK fulfils its clean energy commitments.”

The top ten EU member states’ share of energy from renewable sources is shown below (light blue = 2004, dark blue = 2015): 

Source: Eurostat
Source: Eurostat

The share of renewables as a percentage of energy consumption in the EU as a whole reached 16.7% in 2015, nearly double the 8.5% recorded in 2004 – with 11 member states already achieving their 2020 targets.

These are Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Croatia, Italy, Lithuania, Hungary, Romania, Finland and Sweden.

With more than half of its energy generated from renewable sources, Sweden had by far the greatest share in 2015, followed by Finland and Latvia, while Luxembourg had the smallest percentage of energy from renewables, followed by Malta and the Netherlands.

Member states have already agreed on a new EU renewable energy target of at least 27%, and there are now calls for stakeholders in the UK to further recognise the economic case for decarbonisation.

“The economic benefits of making the transition away from fossil fuels are huge – the renewable energy market is an international one worth hundreds of billions of dollars a year,” Pinchbeck continued.

“Bloomberg New Energy Finance reported that $287.5bn (£236.56) was invested in clean energy worldwide in 2016 - further development of our renewable power sources is crucial.”

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