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Energy

Renewable Energy Directive

The Renewable Energy Directive is the legal framework for the development of clean energy across all sectors of the EU economy, supporting cooperation between EU countries towards this goal.

Since the introduction of the Renewable Energy Directive (2009/28/EC), the share of renewable energy sources in EU energy consumption has increased from 12.5% in 2010 to 23% in 2022. Sweden had the highest share of renewables in its consumption (66%), ahead of Finland (47.9%) and Latvia (43.3%), as reported to Eurostat.

Key facts

Global leader
EU leads technology development in renewables
23%
share of renewables in EU energy consumption 2022
at least 42.5%
the new binding renewable energy target for 2030

The EU is already a global leader on renewables when it comes to technology development and deployment. However, its competitiveness on global renewable energy markets could be further strengthened, as confirmed by a report on the EU’s global leadership in renewable energy, published in 2021.  

Under the European Green Deal, renewable energy is a pillar of the clean energy transition. It comes at a low cost and is home-grown, which reduces Europe’s dependency on external suppliers. This is why the EU’s level of ambition on increasing the share of renewables in its energy mix and the measures needed to achieve this are regularly revisited.

The revised Directive

Timeline for renewable energy in the EU

  1. 20 November 2023

    Revised Directive EU/2023/2413 entered into force

  2. 2022

    REPowerEU Plan: new EC proposal to further raise the renewable energy target

  3. 2021

    Fit for 55: EC proposal to revise the directive and raise the target for 2030 to 40%

  4. 2019

    EU power production from wind and solar surpass coal for the first time

  5. 2018

    Revised Renewable Energy Directive: 32% renewables target for 2030

  6. 2014

    Onshore wind is cheap­er than coal, gas and nuclear energy

  7. 2009

    Renewable Energy Directive: EU target of 20% renewables by 2020 and national binding targets

  8. 2008

    Olmedilla Photovoltaic park (Spain) - largest power plant (60MW) in the world - generates enough to power 40 000 homes/year 

  9. 2003

    Directive on biofuels and renewable fuels for transport: national tar­gets for biofuels

  10. 2001

    Directive on electricity production from renewables: national indicative targets 

  11. 2000

    First large-scale offshore wind farm (Denmark) 

  12. 1997

    Energy for the future: renewable sources of energy: indicative EU target of 12% renewables by 2010 

  13. 1991

    Germany introduces first feed-in-tarif for renewables 

In July 2021, the Commission proposed a revision of the directive, raising the 2030 target to 40% (up from 32%), as part of the ‘Fit for 55’ package, together with measures to increase renewables across the economy. 

Less than a year later, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the need to accelerate the EU’s independence from fossil fuels, the Commission proposed to further increase the target to 45% by 2030, together with measures to accelerate permitting for renewables. 

On 30 March 2023, a provisional agreement was reached  for a binding target of at least 42.5% by 2030, but aiming for 45%. 

The new legislation was published on 31 October 2023 and entered into force 20 days later. 

New measures for further uptake of renewables

Building on the 2009 and 2018 directives, the revised directive introduces stronger measures to ensure that all possibilities for the further development and uptake of renewables are fully utilised. This will be key to achieving the EU's objective of climate neutrality by 2050 and to strengthen Europe's security of energy supply. 

In addition to the new headline target to double the existing share of renewable energy sources, a strong policy framework will facilitate electrification in different sectors, with new increased sector-specific targets for renewables in heating and cooling, transport, industry, buildings and district heating/cooling, but also with a framework promoting electric vehicles and smart recharging.

To support renewables uptake in transport and heating and cooling, the revised directive converts into EU law some of the concepts outlined in the energy system integration and hydrogen strategies, published in 2020. These concepts aim at creating an energy-efficient, circular and renewable energy system that facilitates renewables-based electrification and promotes the use of renewable fuels, including hydrogen, in sectors like transport or industry where electrification is not yet a feasible option. For these hard-to-electrify sectors, the directive sets new binding targets for renewable fuels of non-biological origin.

As an important bottleneck to the deployment of renewables on the ground, permitting procedures will also be easier and faster both for renewable energy projects (including through shorter approval periods and the creation of 'Renewables acceleration areas') and for the necessary infrastructure projects.

As we phase out fossil fuels, bioenergy will also have a role to play. Therefore, the sustainability criteria are reinforced by the revised directive.  

Directive 2018/2001/EU

The Renewable Energy Directive (2018/2001/EU) entered into force in December 2018, as part of the Clean energy for all Europeans package, aimed at  maintaining the EU’s status as a global leader in renewables and, more broadly, helping it to meet its emissions reduction commitments under the Paris Agreement.

It established a new binding renewable energy target for the EU for 2030 of at least 32%, with a clause for a possible upwards revision by 2023. This target is a continuation of the 20% target for 2020. In order to help EU countries deliver on this target, the directive introduced new measures for various sectors of the economy, particularly on heating and cooling and transport, where progress has been slower (for example, an increased 14% target for the share of renewable fuels in transport by 2030). It also includes new provisions to allow citizens to play an active role in the development of renewables by enabling renewable energy communities and self-consumption of renewable energy and established better criteria to ensure bioenergy's sustainability.

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