Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, published the ‘Sustainable development in the European Union — monitoring report on progress towards the SDGs in an EU context, 2023 edition', which provides a statistical overview of progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the EU.
The report shows that the use of renewable energy has grown continuously in the EU, doubling from 10.8% of gross final energy consumption in 2006 to reach 21.8% in 2021. "Reductions in investment costs due to economies of scale and greater competition, more efficient technologies, supply chain improvements and renewable energy support schemes have driven this growth (5 ). However, even faster growth is likely to be needed for the EU to meet its newly agreed 42.5% renewable target in 2030", the new document says.
According to Eurostat, the share of renewable energy grew in all three of the areas monitored here, namely electricity generation, heating and cooling, and transport. In 2021, the share of renewables in these areas was 37.5%, 22.9% and 9.1%, respectively. However, additional efforts are required across these sectors to scale up the renewable energy transition.
But the report warns that to achieve a clean and secure energy system, the EU aims to increase the share of renewables in gross final energy consumption.
However, emissions associated with energy consumption have fallen thanks to reduced energy consumption and increased use of renewables. According to Eurostat, a sectoral breakdown of the years 1990 and 2021 shows that all sectors of the economy reduced their GHG emissions over this period, except transport. Fuel combustion in energy industries — which covers electricity and central heat generation — showed the strongest reduction.
"This was due to a general drop in energy consumption and an increasing share of renewable energy sources, which reached 37.5% of electricity consumption in 2021. As a result of these developments, fuel combustion by energy users (excluding transport) replaced energy industries as the largest emission source in 2020 and remained the top emitting sector with 27.4% of total GHG emissions in 2021. Driving this rise in fuel combustion by energy users was a 2.3% increase in fossil fuel consumption in buildings between 2016 and 2021, despite the share of renewables in heating and cooling growing by 2.5 percentage points over the same period, to reach 22.9% in 2021", report adds.
In total, renewable energy contributed 21.8% of the EU’s gross final energy consumption in 2021. While this was an increase of 3.8 percentage points between 2016 and 2021. But again, stronger progress seems necessary to reach a 42.5% share of renewable sources in energy consumption by 2030.