Renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and hydroelectric power, ocean and geothermal energy, biomass and biofuels offer cleaner alternatives to fossil fuels. They reduce pollution, broaden our energy options and decrease our dependence on volatile fossil fuel prices. In 2022, renewable energy accounted for 23% of the European Union’s energy consumption. In 2023, lawmakers increased the Union’s target for the share of renewable sources of energy in gross energy consumption from 32% to 42.5% by 2030, aiming for 45%.

Legal basis and objectives

Article 194 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.


A. The European Green Deal

On 11 December 2019, in line with the European Green Deal, the Union committed to addressing the energy, climate and environmental challenges and to achieving climate neutrality by 2050 in accordance with the Paris Agreement. The transformation of the Union’s energy system plays a fundamental role in this, as both its production and use of energy account for more than 75% of its greenhouse gas emissions.

B. Renewable Energy Directive

1. Renewable Energy Directive: towards 2020

The original Renewable Energy Directive, adopted on 23 April 2009, established that 20% of the EU’s gross final energy consumption and 10% of each EU country’s transport energy consumption must come from renewable energy sources by 2020. The directive set and confirmed mandatory national targets consistent with the EU’s overall goal. It also required EU countries to develop indicative trajectories for achieving their targets, submit national renewable energy action plans and publish national renewable energy progress reportsevery two years. The directive outlined various mechanisms that EU countries could apply to promote investment in renewable energy sources, including support schemes, guarantees of origin, joint projects, cooperation with non-EU countries, as well as sustainability criteria for biofuels.

In 2018, as part of the ‘Clean energy for all Europeans’ package, the first revision of the Renewable Energy Directive entered into force. This directive, which had to be transposed into national law by EU countries by June 2021, established a new binding renewable energy target for the EU of at least 32% of gross final energy consumption by 2030, along with an increased target of 14% for the share of renewable fuels in transport by 2030.

In accordance with Regulation (EU) 2018/1999, EU countries propose national energy targets and establish 10-year national energy and climate plans (NECPs), due by March 2023, covering the period from 2021 to 2030. The NECPs are monitored every two years with progress reports and assessed by the Commission, which is empowered to take measures at EU level to ensure their consistency with the overall EU targets.

2. Renewable Energy Directive: towards 2030

In 2023, the second revision of the Renewable Energy Directive resulted from three major modifications. In July 2021, as part of the ‘Fit for 55’ package, the first amendment aimed to align the Union’s renewable energy targets with its new climate ambition.

In March and May 2022, as part of its REPowerEU package following the Russian aggression against Ukraine, the second amendment sought to accelerate the clean energy transition in line with the decision to phase out dependence on Russian fossil fuels. This was to be achieved by installing heat pumps, increasing solar photovoltaic capacity and importing renewable hydrogen and biomethane.

In November 2022, the third amendment aimed to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy by presuming certain renewable energy plants to be of overriding public interest. This allows for faster permitting for renewable projects and specific derogations from EU environmental legislation.

The Renewable Energy Directive, which entered into force in November 2023, raises the 2030 renewable energy sources target to 42.5% by 2030, with EU countries striving to achieve 45%. It speeds up procedures to grant permits for new renewable energy power plants, such as solar panels or wind turbines, and sets the maximum time to approve new installations at 12 months in areas prioritised for renewables and to 24 months elsewhere.

The directive establishes the following sectoral and innovation targets for EU countries:

  • In the industry sector, a binding target of 42% for renewable hydrogen in total hydrogen consumption by 2030 and 60% by 2035, with an indicative target of an annual average increase of 1.6 percentage points in renewable sources.
  • In the buildings sector, an indicative target of 49% for the share of renewable energy by 2030, with heating and cooling targets to increase by 0.8 percentage points per year until 2025 and by 1.1 percentage points from 2026 to 2030.
  • In the transport sector, either a 29% target for the share of renewable energy by 2030, or a 14.5% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, through greater use of advanced biofuels and renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBO), such as hydrogen.
  • In research and innovation, an indicative target of 5% of newly installed renewable energy capacity from innovative technologies by 2030.

3. Renewable energy financing mechanism

Regulation (EU) 2020/1294 establishes an EU financing mechanism to assist countries in achieving their individual and collective renewable energy targets. The mechanism links countries that contribute to the financing of projects (contributing countries) with countries that agree to have new projects built on their territories (host countries). The Commission outlines its implementation framework and funding methods, establishing that EU countries, funds, or private sector contributions may finance actions under the mechanism. The energy generated through this mechanism counts towards the renewable energy targets of all participating countries.

4. Trans-European Networks for Energy

The Trans-European Networks for Energy (TEN-E 3.5.1) is a policy that focuses on connecting the energy infrastructure of EU countries, aligning it with the objective of achieving climate neutrality by 2050. The TEN-E Regulation established EU rules for cross-border energy infrastructure. It identifies 11 priority corridors and three thematic priority areas, defines the new Projects of Common Interest (PCIs) among EU countries, introduces Projects of Mutual Interest (PMIs) between EU and non-EU countries, highlights the role of offshore wind projects and excludes future natural gas projects from EU funding. Additionally, it promotes the integration of renewables and new clean energy technologies into the energy system, connects regions currently isolated from European energy markets, strengthens existing cross-border interconnections, fosters cooperation with partner countries and proposes ways to simplify and accelerate permitting and authorisation procedures.

C. Future steps

Revision of the Energy Taxation Directive.

In July 2021, the Commission published a proposal on the revision of the Energy Taxation Directive 2003/96/EC. The proposal aims to align the taxation of energy products with EU energy and climate policies, promote clean technologies and eliminate outdated exemptions and reduced rates that currently incentivise the use of fossil fuels. The European Parliament and the Council of the EU are currently examining the legislative proposal.

D. Resource-specific issues

1. Solar

The REPowerEU plan introduced a strategy to double solar photovoltaic capacity to 320 GW by 2025 and install 600 GW by 2030. The plan included a phased-in legal obligation to install solar panels on new public, commercial and residential buildings, as well as a strategy to double the rate of deployment of heat pumps in district and communal heating systems. Under the plan, EU countries are required to identify and adopt plans for dedicated ‘go-to’ areas for renewables, with shortened and simplified permitting processes. The revised Renewable Energy Directive defines fast permit-granting procedures for the installation of solar energy equipment.

2. Biomass, biofuels and hydrogen

The Renewable Energy Directive (EU) 2018/2001 includes a target of 1% by 2025 and 5.5% by 2030 for advanced biofuels, biogas and RFNBO (i.e. hydrogen) in the transport sector.

In July 2020, the energy system integration and hydrogen strategies introduced the objective of achieving at least 6 GW of renewable hydrogen electrolysers and producing up to 1 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen in the EU by 2024. The strategies also aimed for 40 GW and 10 million tonnes by 2030.

In 2022, the REPowerEU plan established the target of producing and importing 10 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen by 2030. 

In 2023, the Renewable Energy Directive set the indicative target of 42% of renewable hydrogen in total hydrogen consumption by 2030 and 60% by 2035 for industry.

3. Offshore wind

On 19 November 2020, the Commission published an EU strategy on offshore renewable energy. The strategy aims to increase the EU’s production of electricity from offshore renewable energy sources from 12 GW in 2020 to over 60 GW by 2030 and 300 GW by 2050.

The TEN-E Regulation, which entered into force in June 2022, introduced non-binding regional agreements for the deployment of offshore renewables. In January 2023, EU countries agreed on higher non-binding goals for offshore renewable energy generation, with targets of111 GW and 317 GW by 2030 and 2050 respectively.

4. Ocean Energy

In January 2014, the Commission published its blue energy action plan to support the development of ocean energy. This includes energy generated by waves, tidal power, thermal energy conversion and salinity gradient power. The offshore renewable energy strategy also highlighted the need for significant scaling up of the marine renewables industry. It proposed a fivefold increase by 2030 and a 25-fold increase by 2050.

Role of the European Parliament

Parliament has consistently advocated the use of renewables and highlighted the importance of setting mandatory targets for 2020 and, more recently, for 2030.

In January 2018, in view of the 2018 revision of the Renewable Energy Directive, Parliament supported a binding target for the Union of at least 35% renewable energy by 2030 and reinforced self-consumption as a right. However, after negotiations with the Council, the EU’s binding target was decreased to at least 32%.

In January 2020, Parliament adopted a resolution on the European Green Deal, calling for a revision of the Renewable Energy Directive and the setting of binding national targets.

In May 2021, Parliament adopted resolutions on a European strategy for energy system integration and a European Strategy for Hydrogen, advocating decarbonisation and the use of renewables in the production of electricity and hydrogen.

In February 2022, Parliament adopted a resolution on a European strategy for offshore renewable energy, noting that a cost-competitive transition to a 55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 requires an installed capacity of offshore wind of 70-79 GW and called to go beyond this.

In September 2022, in its position on the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive, Parliament proposed a renewable energy target of 45% by 2030.

In October 2023, Parliament and the Council raised the 2030 renewable energy target to 42.5%, with the aim of achieving 45%, almost doubling the existing share of renewable energy in the EU.

For more information on this topic, please see the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) website.

Visit the European Parliament homepage on renewable energy.


Matteo Ciucci