Renewable energy sources accounted for 62 per cent (17GW) of the new electricity generation capacity installed across the 27 member states of the European Union in 2009, an increase from 57 per cent in 2008, according to a European Commission report.
According to the "Renewable Energy Snapshots" report, published on July 5 2010 by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), for the second year running, wind energy accounted for the largest share of the new capacity: 10.2 GW out of the 27.5 GW built, representing 38 per cent of the total.
In absolute terms, renewables produced 19.9 per cent of Europe's electricity consumption in 2009, the report said.
In 2009, and in absolute terms, about 19.9 per cent (608 TWh) of Europe’s total electricity consumption (3042 TWh) came from renewable energy sources. Hydro power contributed with the largest share (11.6 per cent), followed by wind (4.2 per cent), biomass (3.5 per cent), and solar (0.4 per cent).
With regards to the new capacity constructed that same year (27.5 GW), among the renewable sources, 37.1 per cent was wind power, 21 per cent photovoltaics (PV), 2.1 per cent biomass, 1.4 per cent hydro and 0.4 per cent concentrated solar power, whereas the rest were gas fired power stations (24 per cent), coal fired power stations (8.7 per cent), oil (2.1 per cent), waste incineration (1.6 per cent) and nuclear (1.6 per cent).
If current growth rates are maintained, in 2020 up to 1400 TWh of electricity could be generated from renewable sources, the report said.
This would account for about 35 to 40 per cent of overall electricity consumption in the EU, depending on the success of community policies on electricity efficiency, and would contribute significantly to the fulfilment of the 20 per cent target for energy generation from renewables.
However, the report also advises that some issues need to be resolved if the targets are to be met.
Particular areas of focus include ensuring fair access to grids, substantial public R&D support, and the adaptation of current electricity systems to accommodate renewable electricity. The study highlights that cost reduction and accelerated implementation will depend on the production volume and not on time.