EEA: Renewables successfully reducing European GHG emissions

By Erin Voegele | February 26, 2015

A report recently published by the European Environment Agency stresses that the deployment of renewable technologies in Europe has been an important force driving the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The EEA said that without the deployment of renewable energy since 2005, GHG emissions in 2012 could have been 7 percent higher. The EEA estimates the increase in renewable energy use since 2005 resulted in approximately 326 million tons of gross avoided CO2 emissions at the EU level in 2012, increasing to 388 million tons in 2013.

The use of renewables has also increased energy security. Without the use of renewable energy capacity installed since 2005, the EU’s consumption of fossil fuels would have been about 7 percent higher in 2012. The use of coal would have been up 13 percent, while natural gas use would have been 7 percent higher.

"Renewable energy is quickly becoming one of Europe's great success stories,” said Hans Bruyninckx, executive director of the EEA. “We can go even further: if we support innovation in this area it could become a major motor of Europe's economy, bringing down emissions while creating jobs.”

The report, titled “Renewable energy in Europe—approximated recent growth and knock-on effects,” notes the share of gross final consumption of renewable energy sources (RES) increased in all but one EU member state, Cyrpus, in 2013. The EU-wide share of gross final consumption of renewables increased from 14.1 percent in 2012 to 14.9 percent in 2013. The report indicates that while the renewable heating and cooling market sector retained its dominance in the gross final consumption of all renewables in the EU during 2013, the renewable electricity sector grew faster, contributing the most to absolute growth in renewables across all EU countries. The use of renewables in transportation, however, decreased in about half of member states and overall at the EU level.

Regarding biomass, the report shows solid biomass contributed 4.76 million metric tons of oil equivalent (Mtoe) to the EU electricity sector in 2005, increasing to 8.54 Mtoe in 2012. The National Renewable Energy Action Plans NREAP 2020 target is 13.43 Mtoe. Solid biomass also contributed 56.65 Mtoe to the heating and cooling sector in 2005, increasing to 71.04 Mtoe in 2012. The NREAP 2020 target is 80.89 Mtoe.

The biogas sector contributed 1.10 Mtoe to the electricity sector in 2005, increasing to 3.99 Mtoe in 2012. The NREAP 2020 target is 5.49. The biogas sector also contributed 0.75 Mtoe to the heating and cooling sector in 2005, increasing to 2.29 Mtoe in 2012. The NREAP 2020 target is 5.11 Mtoe.

Bioliquids also contributed to both the electricity and heating and cooling sectors. Bioliquids contributed 015 Mtoe to the electricity sector and 0.17 to the heating and cooling sector in 2005. The contribution increased to 0.31 Mtoe and 0.39, respectively, in 2012. The NREAP 2020 target is 1.10 Mtoe for the electricity sector and 4.42 Mtoe for the heating and cooling sector.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded from the EEA website.