Europe's 2009 Energy Growth Dominated by Renewables

Up to 40 percent of electricity could be renewable by 2020 at current rates.

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Europe's 2009 Energy Growth Dominated by Renewables

The European Commission's Joint Research Centre released its annual "Renewable Energy Snapshots" report this week, and found that 62 percent of all new electricity generation installed in 2009 in the 27 EU member countries was from renewable sources. This represented an increase from 2008, when 57 percent of new electricity was renewable.

Europe has some relatively lofty energy and climate goals. They hope to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent, improve energy efficiency by 20 percent and ensure that 20 percent of all energy usage is renewable, and all that by 2020. That is a lot of 20s.

The region does seem to be well on its way in terms of the renewable share, with 19.9 percent of the total net electricity generation in 2009 coming from renewable sources. That amount represents 608 terawatt-hours, out of a total of 3,042 TWh; they are targeting between 1,120 and 1,400 TWh to achieve the desired renewable penetration.

In terms of newly installed capacity, wind power led the way, and now represents about 4.2 percent of the total electricity generation (compared to about 2 percent in the United States). After drastically exceeding previous goals for wind power, the European Wind Energy Association is now targeting [PDF] 230 GW of installed wind power capacity by 2020.

The report authors pointed out that meeting some of Europe's aggressive targets will be difficult without aggressive policy changes from those in charge:

"Without increased political support, especially in the field of fair grid access and regulatory measures to ensure that the current electricity system is transformed to be capable to absorb these amounts of Renewable Electricity, these predictions will not come about."

(Image via Joint Research Centre)

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