EU surpasses renewable energy targets — but Ireland lags behind

EU surpasses renewable energy targets — but Ireland lags behind

Ireland's first and only operational offshore wind farm at the Arklow Bank Wind Park (Phase 1), off the coast of Arklow, Co. Wicklow. 

The EU as a whole surpassed its renewable energy targets by 2020 — but Ireland is lagging way behind European leaders in the field, research shows.

The European Commission's data analysis wing Eurostat said that the share of gross final energy consumption from renewable sources reached 22% in 2020, or two percentage points above the aims targeted in a 2009 EU directive.

Sweden and Croatia were among the best performers, exceeding their own targets by 11 percentage points, while Bulgaria also exceeded its own targets by seven percentage points.

Sweden was by far and away the clear leader in the EU with just over 60% of its energy provided by renewables in 2020, ahead of Finland on 44% and Latvia on 42%. 

Outside the EU, Iceland and Norway were up at almost 84% and more than 77% respectively.

Ireland lags towards the bottom of the pile of EU member states, according to the data, ranking 20th of the 27 in the bloc. Its rate of just over 16% was the same as Poland, but ahead of the Netherlands, Hungary, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Malta.

The share of energy from renewable sources used in transport in the EU reached 10.2% in 2020, Eurostat said.

EU renewable energy share has doubled

Renewable energy share has doubled in the past 18 years in the bloc, the data shows. The 22.1% in the EU in 2020 compared to 9.6% in 2004.

Wind and water provide the most renewable electricity, while solar is the fastest-growing energy source, Eurostat said.

"Wind and hydro power accounted for more than two thirds of the total electricity generated from renewable sources (36% and 33%, respectively). The remaining one third of electricity generated was from solar power (14%), solid biofuels (8%) and other renewable sources (8%)," the analysis said.

"Solar power is the fastest-growing source: in 2008, it accounted for 1%."

MAC consultation

It comes as Environment Minister Eamon Ryan launched a consultation on the new Maritime Area Consent (MAC) process for offshore renewable energy, which the department says will be "a first step in a new and streamlined planning process".

MAC will assess the viability of proposed offshore renewable energy developers in a number of key areas, including in respect of their financial and technical competency, in advance of developers proceeding to environmental studies, the department added.

Mr Ryan said the Maritime Area Planning Act is "transformational" legislation for Ireland to "embrace its abundant offshore potential".

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