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In 2021, the EU recorded the first annual decline in renewable energy consumption.

Published: 2023-01-21

Eurostat reported that in 2021 the share of energy consumption from renewable sources in the countries of the European Union was 21.8%, which is 0.3% less than the level of consumption in 2020. This is the first recorded reduction in green energy consumption in the EU. If this trend continues, the EU will not be able to achieve its climate goals. The authorities should take measures to prevent such a development of events.

We note right away that Eurostat urges not to look for any fundamental problems in reducing the level of consumption of renewable energy by the countries of the Union. Firstly, in 2021, the demand for energy for industry began to grow after the lifting of quarantine restrictions in 2020, which also could not be fully met by the growing capacities for generating energy from renewable sources.

Secondly, a number of regulatory documents for calculating the generation and consumption of energy from renewable sources have changed. Eurostat calls for judging the impact on consumption of one reason or another only after a thorough study of a 100-page document analyzing the nuances of calculating norms in 2020 and 2021, and not because of, for example, the energy crisis in Europe that began in the fall of 2021.

But even the adjusted calculation methodology hints at the gulf between goals and reality. Thus, according to the Directive of the European Parliament and the Union 2018/2001 of December 11, 2018 on promoting the use of energy from renewable sources, in 2030 the share of renewable energy consumption in the EU should reach 32%. The 2021 figure of 22% casts doubt on the reality of these goals. Moreover, the Commission of the European Parliament recommends increasing this figure to 40% and even 45% if you look at the REPowerEU plan for 2022. But we don’t even know the statistics for 2022 yet, and against the backdrop of global events taking place in Europe and the world, it promises to surprise in every way.

If we talk about the EU countries separately, then Sweden demonstrates the highest share of energy from renewable sources (62.2%). This country is the absolute leader, but not thanks to the sun and wind, but mainly due to biomass, hydropower, wind, heat pumps and liquid biofuels.

Finland (43.1%) and Latvia (42.1%) are in second and third place in the EU, and also due to biomass and hydropower, not solar and wind. Estonia, with a share of renewable energy of 37.6%, benefits from biomass and wind. Austria (36.4%) and Denmark (34.7%) are also actively “burning” biomass, although the former is also helped by hydropower, and the latter by wind.

As for the outsiders, they include more than half of the EU member states with clean energy consumption figures below the EU average. 15 of the 27 EU members reported shares below the EU average in 2021: Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland and Slovakia.

The lowest share of renewable energy was recorded in Luxembourg (11.7%), Malta (12.2%), the Netherlands (12.3%), Ireland (12.5%) and Belgium (13.0%) . The leading economies of the EU - Germany and France - also found themselves on the list of outsiders, far behind even the Baltic countries.