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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 21.8% in 2021. Sweden had the highest share of renewables in its consumption (62.6%), ahead of Finland (43.1%) and Latvia (42.1%), as reported to Eurostat.

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 very 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 electricity mix and the measures needed to achieve this are regularly revisited.

Revision of the Directive

Given the need to speed up the EU’s clean energy transition, the Directive EU/2018/2001 was revised  and entered into force in 2018 and has been legally binding since June 2021.

It sets an overall  European renewable energy target of 32% by 2030 and includes rules to ensure the uptake of renewables in the transport sector and in heating and cooling.  The directive sets common principles and rules for renewable energy support schemes, sustainability criteria for biomass and the right to produce and consume renewable energy and to establish renewable energy communities. It also establishes rules to remove barriers, stimulate investments and drive cost reductions in renewable energy technologies and empowers citizens and businesses to participate in the clean energy transformation.

In July 2021, the Commission proposed another revision of the directive, raising the 2030 target to 40% (up from 32%), as part of the ‘Fit for 55’ package.

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.

On 30 March 2023, a provisional agreement was reached  for a binding target of at least 42.5% by 2030, but aiming for 45%. Once this process is completed, the new legislation will be formally adopted and enter into force. 

Timeline for renewable energy in the EU

  1. 2023
    Provisional agreement to raise 2030 target to at least 42.5%, aiming for 45%
  2. 2022
    REPowerEU Plan: EC proposal to raise target for 2030 to 45%
  3. 2021
    Renewable Energy Directive: EC proposal to raise 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

New measures for further uptake of renewables

Building on the 2009 and 2018 directives, the current proposal 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.

To support renewables uptake in transport and heating and cooling, the proposal seeks to convert 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 and low-carbon fuels, including hydrogen, in sectors like transport where electrification is not yet a feasible option.

Consultations and stakeholder meetings

This revision process builds on extensive consultation between stakeholders and the public. This includes feedback on a roadmap that the Commission published in August 2020, a public consultation launched in November 2020 (a short summary was published in March 2021) and two stakeholder meetings that took place in December 2020 and in March 2021 to gather input from stakeholders.

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 included 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.