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Renewables at top of policy agenda, but Europe still highly dependent on fossil fuel imports - AEBIOM

Renewables at top of policy agenda, but Europe still highly dependent on fossil fuel imports - AEBIOM


The year 2015 was a year of great commitment to renewables worldwide, culminating in the agreement at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris, after which governments have announced their support to foster the development of renewable energy and adopt energy efficiency measures, according to the Statistical Report 2016 from European Biomass Association AEBIOM.

However, while noting that these initiatives show signs that a global energy transition is underway, the report warns that enthusiasm generated by the COP21 agreement should not overshadow the current situation on the European energy front, in which the EU remains highly dependent on imported fossil fuels to meet its energy needs.

According to the report, in 2014, the average EU28 energy dependency was 53.4%, a share that has been steadily increasing over the last two decades. Oil represented the highest import dependency (87.4%), followed by natural gas (67.2%) and solid fossil fuels such as coal (45.6%). This dependency not only contributes to the weakening of the EU’s geopolitical influence, but also creates Gross Domestic Product (GDP) leakage across Europe that could amount to EUR 1 billion per day[1].

However, on the positive side, Jeffrey Skeer, a senior programme officer with the International Renewable Energy Agency noted in the report that the renewable share of energy use for electricity and heat had nearly doubled in just a decade. “This reflects not just the accelerating inroads of wind and solar power, driven by a virtuous cycle of expanding production and declining unit costs, but also a robust expansion of bioenergy, driven by the ready availability of highly efficient, highly economical, long-proven technologies for using biomass in combined heat and power plants, urban district heating plants, and modern home furnaces,” he said.

The report notes that bioenergy’s contribution to the EU’s 2020 objectives is crucial. By 2020, bioenergy is expected to contribute to half of the EU’s 20% renewables target. In 2014, bioenergy accounted for 61% of all renewable energy consumed, which is 10% of the gross final consumption of energy in Europe.

[1] European Commission Questions and answers on security of energy supply in the EU