EU progress on renewable energy, efficiency targets slows - EEA

LONDON (Reuters) - The European Union’s progress towards increasing the use of renewable energy and improving energy efficiency is slowing, putting its ability to meet its 2020 and 2030 targets at risk, the European Environment Agency (EEA) said on Monday.

Rising energy consumption, particularly in transport, is to blame for the slowdown, the EEA said in an annual report on EU efforts on its renewables and energy efficiency targets.

Renewable energy, such as wind and solar, accounted for a 17.4 percent share of gross final energy consumption in the EU last year, according to the EEA’s preliminary data, up from 17.0 percent in 2016.

This indicates that the EU remains on track to reach its target of a renewables share of 20 percent by 2020, although the report said the pace of growth had slowed.

The agency said there was insufficient progress towards a 10 percent target for renewables use in transport by 2020.

“With 2020 approaching, the trajectories needed to meet the national targets are becoming steeper. Increased energy consumption and persisting market barriers are hindering the uptake of renewables in several member states,” the report said.

Preliminary EEA data for 2017 showed 20 member states were on track to reach their individual targets on renewable energy by 2020, a decline from 2016 when 25 countries were on track.

On energy efficiency, both primary and final energy consumption were above the trajectory needed towards 2020.

The continued growth in energy consumption, particularly in transport but also in other sectors, made achieving the 2020 target increasingly uncertain, the report said.

The EU also has new targets for 2030 but the report said current trends would not be enough to reach them, and additional and more ambitious efforts would be needed in the coming decade.

By the end of this year, member states must submit the first draft of their national energy and climate plans to help them achieve targets for 2030.

Reporting by Nina Chestney, Editing by Edmund Blair