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E.U. on track to meet 20% renewable energy target by 2020 - report

The European Union is most likely to meet its 20 percent renewable energy target by 2020, according to a new report from the EurObserv'ER Barometer program.

The program, which measures the progress in renewable energy deployment in member states of the E.U., found that the share of renewables in the gross final energy consumption of the E.U. climbed from 12.5 percent in 2010 to 13.4 percent in 2011, an increase of 0.9 points.

This growth is attributed to the combination of slightly higher gross energy consumption from renewables and a notable decline in total gross final energy consumption, said EurObserv'ER.

The gross consumption of final energy from renewable energy sources rose by 1.7 percent or approximately 2.5 million tons of oil equivalent, while the total gross final energy dropped by -4.9 percent or roughly -58 million tons of oil equivalent.

The relatively small increase of renewable energy consumption is attributed to lower consumption of wood fuel and to a relatively small increase in use of biofuels. On the other hand, the significant decrease in energy consumption was brought by a milder winter and a slowdown in economic activity.

Assessing the performance of the E.U.’s 27 member countries, the report found Sweden ranked first in terms of share of renewable sources in the energy mix with 47.6 percent in 2011. Significantly, this places the country very close to achieving its 2020 renewable energy target of 49 percent, the highest among European countries.

Latvia placed second with 33.1 percent share, a 0.1 difference from Finland. The former has a renewable energy goal of 40 percent, while the latter has 38 percent.

Completing the top five European countries in terms of renewable energy utilization are Austria and Portugal, with 30.9 percent and 26.8 percent respectively. Austria seeks 34 percent renewables by 2020, while Portugal aims 31 percent contribution in its energy mix.

Under the Renewable Energy Directive of 2009, all E.U. member states have mandated levels of renewable energy use to ensure the region will reach a 20 percent share of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

“The fact that nearly all member states intend to achieve their national targets within their national territory and that more than half of the, foresee to overshoot their targets sends a strong signal showing that member states consider renewable energy as the energy source of the future,” stated the European Renewable Energy Council in its report Mapping Renewable Energy Pathways towards 2020. – C. Dominguez

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