Renewable energy in Europe - Statistics & Facts

Renewable energy is a form of energy that is naturally replenished, even if only available in limited amounts at a time. A leader in modern renewable energy deployment, Europe can boast to be the home of the first offshore wind park and the first continent to have seen renewable policy schemes introduced. With the European Union striving to become carbon neutral by 2050, renewable energy investments will continue to be paramount in the future. However, as renewables account for only 18 percent of gross electricity consumption as of 2018, the EU is still some way off from achieving its target.

Wind energy is the greatest renewable contributor to the EU’s power mix. Electricity generation from wind sources grew to 377 terawatt hours in 2018, having seen the strongest year-on-year growth rates next to solar. It is thus unsurprising that the wind energy sector is also the most attractive renewable sector for investors. In 2018, onshore wind alone received some 24.1 billion U.S. dollars in capital investment, more than any other renewable source. The following year, the United Kingdom was the EU country with the greatest wind capacity additions, having installed turbines with a capacity of some 2.2 gigawatts.

The Earth absorbs some 3,850,000 exajoules of solar energy every year, some of which is successfully harnessed through solar panels and converted into heat and electricity. Of EU countries, Germany has the greatest cumulative solar photovoltaic capacity. It was also the leading producer of solar power, at 47,517 gigawatt hours in 2019.

Hydroelectricity is one of the so-called first-generation technologies, the earliest commercialized renewable sources. However, the use and erection of hydropower facilities and dams – especially large ones – comes with environmental side effects such as damage to wildlife habitats and its promotion has been heavily debated. While China and Brazil have seen massive growth in capacity additions, in Europe, investment has been more conservative. Norway has the greatest overall capacity, followed by Turkey, which is still looking to expand its hydro resources.

Also a first-generation technology, bioenergy is a major contributor to the EU’s renewable power mix. Similarly to hydropower, its inclusion as a renewable source is controversial as scientists debate its carbon footprint. As of 2019, Europe as a whole had an installed capacity of 41.4 gigawatts in bioenergy. And in 2018, the EU’s primary energy production from solid biomass amounted to 94.3 million tonnes of oil equivalent. By comparison, waste energy production reached nearly ten million tonnes of oil equivalent that same year.

Interesting statistics

In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 28 most important statistics relating to "Renewable energy in Europe".


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