Europe's energy transition progress report is in - and its results are promising

By: Alyssa Pek, Communications Assistant

Over the past decade, there has been a major push by both EU industry and policy makers to realise a clean energy revolution - but what has been the results of these efforts?

Earlier this month, data on the official share of renewables in the EU energy system was released by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. The findings show that efforts to power a clean energy EU have not been fruitless.

In 2016, the share of energy from renewable sources in gross final consumption of energy reached 17%, doubling the share in 2004 (8.5%), the first year for which data is available. This means that the EU is on track to obtain its target of 20% by 2020 -“ in fact, eleven Member States have already surpassed their respective targets.

According to an analysis of this data by Sandbag and Agora Energiewende, these statistics mean that renewables, covering solar, wind and biomass, have surpassed coal generation for the first time in EU history.

Five years ago, coal was providing double the amount that solar, wind and biomass were producing. In 2017, these three technologies provided 20.9% of the EU'™s electricity, while coal provided 20.6%. These findings are good news for Europe's renewable energy industry as it shows that a 35% renewable energy target is entirely possible by 2030.

While we are certainly heading in the right direction, there is still a long road ahead to ensure that Europe can guarantee a clean energy future for its citizens.

Fossil fuels increased for the third year in a row while solar only increased its share by 8%, which should be much higher considering how prices have decreased dramatically for the technology. Altogether, solar contributed 3.7% to overall electricity production in Europe - a share which can be significantly increased with an effective industrial strategy to fully take advantage of the innovative technology and all the business opportunities it offers.

A European energy transition is within reach -“ we must now harness this momentum to take it even further. An ambitious Clean Energy Package will be crucial in order to realise this, with a higher 35% RES target being an important first step. Other critical elements such as the support of small-scale solar installations and effective governance mechanisms will be key in order to encourage the uptake of solar in Europe and fulfill its clean energy objectives.

It is clear that we are on the cusp of a clean energy revolution in Europe - all we are missing now are the right policies in place to push us out of the dark and into the sunny side of the energy system.