Renewable Energy Prospects for the European Union


February 2018
ISBN : 978-92-9260-007-5

For more than two decades, the European Union (EU) has been at the forefront of global renewable energy deployment. The adoption of long-term targets and supporting policy measures has resulted in strong growth in renewable energy deployment across the region, from a 9% share in gross final energy consumption in 2005 to 16.7% in 2015.

The REmap study by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), prepared in co-operation with the European Commission,  identifies cost-effective renewable energy options for all EU Member States, spanning a wide range of sectors and technologies.

Key findings: 

  • The EU could double the renewable share in its energy mix, cost effectively, from 17% in 2015 to 34% in 2030.
  • All EU countries have cost-effective potential to use more renewables.
  • Renewables are vital for long-term decarbonisation of the EU energy system.
  • The European electricity sector can accommodate large shares of solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind power generation.
  • Heating and cooling solutions account for more than one third of the EU’s untapped renewable energy potential.
  • All renewable transport option, including both electric vehicles and biofuels, are needed to realise long-term EU decarbonisation objectives.
  • Biomass will remain a key renewable energy source beyond 2030.

Tapping the additional renewable energy potentials identified in the study would propel the EU further on a decarbonisation pathway compatible with the ‘well-below’ 2°C objective established in the Paris Agreement. The importance of both an EU-wide target and national-level commitments are critical, as is the faster deployment of renewables, feasible with today’s technology. Finally, substantial socio-economic and environmental benefits across the EU would be garnered from additional renewables deployment.

The study forms part of IRENA’s global REmap analysis, which sets out a practical roadmap for doubling renewables in the global energy mix.

The Executive Summary of the report is available in English and French