Renewable energy: setting ambitious targets for Europe

To help the EU reach its ambitious emissions reduction targets in the fight against climate change, Parliament is working to accelerate greener alternatives such as renewable energy.

The current energy crisis, amplified by Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, has underlined the need to reduce EU dependence on Russian fossil fuels and to diversify and secure the EU’s energy supply by focusing on greener alternatives, such as renewables. In addition, the EU wants to lead the green transition to counter the climate crisis.

Renewable energy sources

  • Renewable energy means energy from renewable non-fossil sources, such as wind, solar and geothermal energy, ambient energy, tide, wave and other ocean energy, hydropower, biomass, landfill gas, sewage treatment plant gas, and biogas

Deciding on new EU renewable energy targets for 2030

Europe’s ambitious climate efforts are set out in the Fit for 55 climate package. The EU’s goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 55% by 2030 and become climate neutral by 2050.


The legislative package also includes the update of the EU’s renewable energy directive to raise the share of renewables in the EU’s energy mix.


In September 2023, Parliament backed a new target of 42.5% of renewable energy sources by 2030, although EU countries are urged to strive for 45% - a target also backed by the Commission under its REPowerEU plan. Presented in May 2022, it stresses the need to accelerate the clean energy transition and phase out energy imports from Russia by scaling up the share of renewables in power generation, industry, buildings and transport to 45% by 2030.


The new legislation speeds up the approval process for new or adapted renewable energy power plants, including solar panels and windmills.

Increasing the share of renewables across sectors in the EU

23.0%

Share of renewables in EU energy consumption in 2022

Targets in the following sectors were also updated:

  • Buildings - 49% of renewables use by 2030
  • Industry - a new benchmark of a 1.6% annual increase in renewables use



The update takes into account Parliament's request that EU countries set an indicative target for innovative renewable energy technology of at least 5% of new installed renewable energy capacity by 2030, as well as establishing a framework for cooperation on cross-border energy projects.


It also follows up on Parliament's call for stricter criteria on biomass use, to reduce the risk of funding unsustainable practices and prevent soil quality and biodiversity being adversely affected.

Share of energy from renewable sources (in % of gross final energy consumption)


The share of renewable sources in EU energy consumption reached 23.0% in 2022, up from 21.8% in 2021.

A map of the EU showing the proportion of renewable energy in total energy consumption in EU countries in 2022. The numbers vary between 13.1% in Ireland and 66.0% in Sweden.
A map of the EU showing the proportion of renewable energy in total energy consumption in EU countries in 202

Sweden is the EU country with the highest share of renewable energy use: 66% in 2022, coming primarily from hydro, wind, solid and liquid biofuels, as well as heat pumps. Next come Finland (47.9%, from hydro, wind and solid biofuels) and Latvia (43.3%, mostly from hydro).


The lowest proportions of renewables were recorded in Ireland (13.1%), Malta (13.4%), Belgium (13.8%) and Luxembourg (14.4%).


More on what the EU does to boost renewable energy


This article was first published in November 2017. It has been substantially rewritten to reflect the latest developments on renewables in the EU.

Solar panels on a house roof ©AP Images/European Union-EP
The EU is keen to push the use of clean energy, such as solar energy ©AP Images/European Union-EP