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Renewable energy directive

The renewable energy directive is the legal framework for the development of renewable energy across all sectors of the EU economy, supporting clean energy cooperation across EU countries.

Since the introduction of the Renewable Energy Directive in 2009, the share of renewable energy sources in energy consumption has increased from 12.5% in 2010 to 21.8% in 2021. Sweden had the highest share of renewables in consumption (62.6%), ahead of Finland (43.1%) and Latvia (42.1%), as reported to Eurostat.

The EU is already in a leading position for renewables technology development and deployment, but its competitive position in global renewable energy markets could be further strengthened.  

Revision of the directive

Given the need to speed up the EU clean energy transition, the Directive (2009/28/EC) was revised and entered into force in 2018. It has been legally binding since June 2021.

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

In line with 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 our dependency on external suppliers. This is why our level of ambition as regards the share of renewables in the EU electricity mix and the measures to achieve it are regularly revised  

In July 2021, the Commission proposed another revision of the directive, raising the target to 40% (up from 32%), as part of the ‘Fit for 55’ package to deliver on the European Green Deal. Less than a year later, in view of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the need to further step up our energy independence from fossil fuels, the Commission proposed to further increase this target to 45% by 2030. On 30 March 2023, a provisional agreement was reached,  for a binding target for 2030 of at least 42.5%, 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

The revision of the directive also introduces new measures to complement the already existing building blocks, established by the 2009 and 2018 directives, to ensure that all potentials for the development of renewable energy are optimally exploited, which is a necessary condition to achieve the EU's objective of climate neutrality by 2050.

These include notably strengthened measures to support renewables uptake in transport, heating and cooling, seeking 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 and circular energy system based on renewable energy that facilitates renewables-based electrification and promotes the use of renewable and low-carbon fuels, including hydrogen, in sectors where electrification is not yet a feasible option, such as transport. 

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

The directive establishes 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 introduces 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 enable citizens to play an active role in the development of renewables by enabling renewable energy communities and self-consumption of renewable energy; and establishes strengthened criteria to ensure bioenergy's sustainability.