Europe half-way to reaching 20 pct renewable target

LONDON (Reuters) - Renewable energy consumption rose 0.6 percent in the European Union in 2008, meaning that the EU has passed the half-way point to reaching its 20 percent target by 2020.

Renewable energy consumption was 10.3 percent in 2008, compared with 9.7 percent in 2007 and 8.8 percent in 2006, Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union said Tuesday.

Of the EU’s three biggest economies -- Germany, France and Britain -- France had the highest share at 11 percent, followed by Germany’s 8.9 percent and the UK’s 2.2 percent.

Britain also had furthest to go of the three major economies, with 12.8 percent needed before reaching its 15 percent target. France and Germany had 23 percent and 9.9 percent to go to their respective 23 and 18 percent renewable energy consumption targets.

Closest to achieving their targets were Romania, followed by Sweden, with 3.6 and 4.6 percent rises needed to reach their respective targets of 24 percent and 49 percent of renewable energy consumption in 2020.

The EU’s 2009 directive on renewable energy set individual targets for all 27 member states, with the goal that the EU will reach a 20 percent share of total energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020. These targets take into account the member states’ different starting points, renewable energy potential and economic performance.

In order to boost global climate negotiations, the EU has indicated it might raise its 2020 renewable energy consumption target to 30 percent, should other major economies such as the US, China and India agree to binding emissions reduction targets.

Renewable energy sources cover solar thermal and photovoltaic energy, hydro (including tide, wave and ocean energy), wind, geothermal energy and biomass (including biological waste and liquid biofuels), according to Eurostat.

The contribution of renewable energy from heat pumps is also covered for the Member States for which this information was available. The energy delivered to final consumers (industry, transport, households, services, etc.) from these sources is the nominator of the target

The highest share of renewable energy in total consumption in 2008 was found in Sweden (44.4 percent of renewable energy sources in total consumption), Finland (30.5 percent), Latvia (29.9 percent), Austria (28.5 percent) and Portugal (23.2 percent), and the lowest in Malta (0.2 percent), Luxembourg (2.1 percent), the United Kingdom (2.2 percent), the Netherlands (3.2 percent) and Belgium (3.3 percent), according to Eurostat.