As the EU aims to become net-zero by the middle of the century, it is worth to take a look at the development of the energy sector in the past decades. The Commission released its yearly statistical pocketbook, that provides an annual overview of energy-related statistics in the EU and in individual Member States. It covers areas including energy balances, energy production and consumption, electricity capacities, energy prices, main energy indicators, socio-economic data and the impact of the energy sector on climate.
The statistics show that renewable energy has become the leading source of electricity over the years. Gross electricity generation from renewables and biofuels in the EU27 has increased from 435.9 terawatts-hour (TWh) in 2000 to 968.8 TWh in 2018, which accounted for 32.9 per cent of total generation.
Since the EU reached a symbolic moment in the transition of its electricity sector, as renewable sources have overtaken coal, oil and gas in EU electricity generation for the first time. Wind, solar, hydro and bioenergy generated 40 per cent of the 27 Member States’ electricity in the first half of the year, beating fossil fuels which accounted for 34 per cent.
Wind and solar were driving the expansion of the renewables sector. Their cumulative capacity more than doubled from 12,472 megawatts (MW), (2 per cent of total installed electricity capacity) in 2000 to 26,1184 MW (28.1 per cent of total electricity installed capacity) in 2018. In the same period, gross electricity production from wind has risen from 21.3 TWh to 320.5 TWh. The uptake of solar-powered electricity generation was remarkable in the past decade as it increased from 23.2 TWh to 115.0 TWh.
Statistics on final energy consumption show that the expansion of renewables was the most visible in electricity generation, but their share also increased in heating and cooling from less than 15 per cent in 2005 to 21 per cent in 2018. The decarbonisation of the transport sector remains a big challenge with less than 10 per cent of renewables penetration.
The report also reveals that between 2005 and 2018 the EU was able to reduce gross inland energy consumption (-7.7 per cent) and greenhouse gas emissions (-18.6 per cent), while increasing GDP.