Feature Report: Tables Summing Up Energy in Europe

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The Rise of Renewable Energies in Europe

The amount of renewable energy produced in Europe tripled between 1990 and 2016, but the goals set by the European Union for 2020 have still not been reached. Here are a few tables illustrating the situation.

Image of wind turbines on the crest of a cliff, a sign of the rise of renewable energies in Europe.
Europe has set itself ambitious targets for the development of renewable energies.

Wood Is the Most-Used Renewable Energy Source

According to E.U. statistics institute Eurostat, renewable energies represented 17.5% of energy consumption in Europe in 2017, compared with 8.5% in 2004.

The goal of 20% by 2020 may therefore be out of reach. For 2030, the target is 27%.

The following table presents the breakdown of renewable energyEnergy sources that are naturally replenished so quickly that they can be considered inexhaustible on a human time scale... types and the change in their use1:

Production of renewable energy in Europe from 1990 to 2016

- Surprised? Wood (including forest waste) accounts for nearly half of renewable energy. It is essentially used to generate heatIn the field of statistical thermodynamics today, heat refers to the transfer of the thermal agitation of the particles making up matter... for individuals and urban heating networks. However, the growth of this energy source’s use is limited by forest surface area. BiogasA product of the methanation (anaerobic digestion) of organic waste... (made from farming waste and sewage sludge), biofuelA fuel produced from plant or animal matter. There are currently two types of biofuel... (oilseed and sugar crops) and renewable waste (organic matter) have also played a role in making biomassIn the energy sector, biomass is defined as all organic matter of plant or animal origin... the predominant source of renewable energy production.

- Hydropower has remained stable (and varies according to rainfall patterns): it is difficult to build new dams in Europe.

- Wind powerIn physics, power is the amount of energy supplied by a system per unit time. In simpler terms, power can be viewed as energy output... has now surpassed hydropower. Wind also generates much more electricityForm of energy resulting from the movement of charged particles (electrons) through a conductor... than solar photovoltaics, which nevertheless has seen the biggest increase.



Differences Between Countries

The proportion of renewable energy varies greatly according to country. The table below shows the situation of six countries in 2017, along with the target for 2020.

Table on the proportion of renewable energy in six European countries in 2017

- France scored better than Germany. This is because France has a very high hydropower capacity and expanding forests. However, it is still far from reaching its target.

- Sweden surpassed the 50% mark, but was outperformed by two champions, both at more than 71%: Iceland (thanks to geothermalDescribes the technology used to tap subsurface heat to produce energy... power) and Norway (thanks to hydropower).

- Poland, which uses a lot of coalCoal is ranked by its degree of transformation or maturity, increasing in carbon content from... , is far from being the lowest performer. It uses more renewable energy than Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Malta, for example.


1Source: Eurostat – https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Renewable_energy_statistics