According to official statistics from Eurobserv’ER, 23.4 percent of the electricity in the European Union came from renewable energy sources in 2012. The total output for 2012 has been estimated at 763.5 TW. This represents an important increase from 2011, when these energy sources brought “only” 20.4 percent of total electricity.
Regarding gross final energy consumption, renewables brought 14 percent of the total in 2012, up from 12.9 percent in 2011.
Eurobserv’ER also provided employment statistics showing that the renewable energy industry has employed up to 1.22 million people in direct and indirect jobs in 2012 (50,000 less than in 2011).
Jobs were mostly in wind power (300,000 direct and indirect jobs), followed by solid biomass (280,000 jobs), photovoltaic (250,000 jobs) and biofuels (110,000 jobs).
This report also shows that the renewable energy picture varies greatly from country-member to another (cf. page 80 of the full report).
While Austria and Sweden lead with 68.3 and 67.1 percent of their total electricity from renewables in 2012, respectively, Lithuania, Hungary, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta got less than ten percent of their electricity from these sources.
Nine countries got from 20 to 50 percent : Latvia (43.4%), Denmark (41.7%), Portugal (35.6%), Finland (32.5%), Spain (31.7%), Slovenia (29.5%), Italy (26.6%), Romania (25.2%) and Germany (24%).
Many more of the 27 EU members got from ten to twenty percent of their electricity from renewables : Slovakia (18.9%), Ireland (18.7%), France (16.1%), Bulgaria (15.7%), Greece (15.2%), Estonia (15.2%), Belgium (11.7%), the Czech Republic (11.5%), the United Kingdom (11%), Poland (10.6%) and the Netherlands (10.5%).
Other important differences can be noticed in the share of each renewable energy source in the total. Hydropower represents 43.9 percent of the total renewable energy produced in 2012. Wind follows with 26.6 percent, biomass (19.5%), and solar energy (9.2%). Geothermal and ocean energies make up the remaining 0.8 percent.
This means that overall, hydro provides 10.3 % of total electricity consumed in the EU, wind power, 6.2 %, biomass, 4.5 % and solar only 2.1%.
To conclude, Eurobserv’ER notes that the European Union and its 27 country-members is only six percent away from one of its 2020 goals: 20 percent of renewable energy in the total energy consumption. The analysts are optimistic as in 2006 the share of renewables was of only nine percent. By keeping that annual growth at 0.7 to 0.8 percent, the EU should succeed.
This would be the second success of the European Union policy on climate and energy. We have indeed previously seen that the EU should achieve its greenhouse gases emissions reduction goal. Perhaps it is time to move on to higher ambitions?