Renewable Energy Use in Europe Continues to Grow Rapidly

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The use of renewable sources of energy in Europe continues to grow at a brisk pace and energy efficiency also is improving, significantly reducing reliance on coal and natural gas, according to a new report. In

2009, renewable energy accounted for 18.4 percent of the European Union’s primary energy production, an increase of 8.3 percent from 2008, according to a report by Eurostat.

Renewable energy sources now account for nearly as much electricity production as natural gas, which supplies 19.3 percent of the continent’s electricity. The report said that natural gas usage was down 10 percent in 2009 and that use of hard coal decreased by 9 percent. For the sixth consecutive year, “energy intensity” — a measure of how much energy is used to produce a unit of economic input — dropped while GDP continued to increase over the same period.

The shift to cleaner sources of energy has been particularly swift in some nations, including Portugal, which now gets almost 45 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. Meanwhile, energy consumption across the continent fell 5.5 percent in 2009, in part because of the economic recession.

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.