Right direction, slow motion
In recent decades, our lifestyle and growing wealth has had a profound effect on the energy sector, changing the energy outlook considerably in the process. Increasing demand for energy, soaring oil prices, uncertain energy supplies and fears of global warming have opened our eyes to the fact that energy can no longer be taken for granted.
EU leaders have thus made a commitment to increase the use of renewable energy; energy that can replace fossil fuels, diversify our energy supply and reduce our carbon emissions. Boosting investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency and new technologies contributes to sustainable development and security of supply, and helps create new jobs, economic growth, greater competitiveness and rural development. A comprehensive legislative framework is necessary for the promotion and the use of renewable energy. Only this can provide the business community with the long-term stability it needs to make rational investment decisions in the renewable energy sector and put the European Union on track towards a cleaner, more secure and more competitive energy future. Bioenergy is the largest source of renewable energy today providing heat, electricity and transport fuels.
Despite high growth rates in the photovoltaic and wind sectors, bioenergy at EU level is expected to remain the main RES contributor. Biomass is expected to contribute to almost 60% of the EU Renewable Energy target in 2020 and about 12% of the final energy use in the European Union.The countries of the European Union are the number two global leaders in the development and application of renewable energy. Promoting the use of renewable energy sources is important both to the reduction of the EU's dependence on foreign energy imports, and in meeting targets to combat global warming.
In 2013, Germany's share of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption increased by 0.3% to 12.4%. In 2004, renewables accounted for only 5.8% or about the same share as for the United Kingdom in 2013 (5.1%).In 2014, net generated electricity from renewable sources accounted for about 30%. Compared to the previous year, biomass, solar and wind increased their production by 13%, 5.9% and 1.5%, respectively, while weather permitting hydro power decreased by 9.6%.
At the end of 2011 renewable energy sources accounted for almost 25% of the electricity production in Italy, and almost 40% at the end of 2013.
In 2010, more than 50% of all yearly electricity consumption in Portugal was generated from renewable energy sources. The most important generation sources were hydroelectric (30%) and wind power (18%), with bioenergy (5%) and photovoltaic solar power (0.5%) accounting for the rest.
United Kingdom government energy policy set a target for renewable electricity to provide 10% of all electricity use by 2010. This target was not met. The UK has agreed to the EU wide renewable energy target of 20% of all energy to come from renewables by 2020, in line with the EU 2009 Renewable Energy Directive. The UK's specific target is to achieve 15% of all energy from renewables.
The prospects for renewable energy in Scotland in particular are significant. Scotland has an estimated potential of 36.5 GW of installed capacity from wind and 7.5 GW from tidal power, 25% of the estimated total capacity for the European Union for both, and up to 14 GW of wave power potential, 10% of EU capacity. The Scottish Government has a target of generating 50% of Scotland's gross annual consumption of electricity from renewables by 2015, rising to 100% by 2020.
Considering the progress made since 2005 on the deployment of renewable energy, the EU could achieve its 2020 renewable energy targets.