The progress being made in attaining the 2020 renewable energy (RE) targets is reviewed for 10 EU countries and for the EU as a whole using BP 2015 data. There are two main targets to be met 1) 20% of all primary energy from RE sources and 2) 10% of transport fuel from RE sources. The EU as a whole is projected to narrowly miss the 20% RE target by about 1%. The transport fuel target is less easy to estimate but will likely be missed by a substantial margin.
There is a wide range in achievement levels between individual countries that were allowed to set their own targets but with the EU aggregate being 20%. The UK looks set to narrowly miss its target of 15%. France, Poland and the Netherlands are set to miss their targets of 23, 15 and 14% by a mile. Germany and Ireland are on course to meet their targets of 18 and 16%. Italy, Spain, Portugal and Denmark look set to far exceed their targets of 20, 20, 31 and 30%.
Roger Andrews visited the topic of EU 2020 targets in September 2015 where he compared Eurostat figures with BP and found some discrepancies. My approach here is rather different and I go into a different level of detail. I use BP 2015 energy consumption data normalised to million tonnes oil equivalent (Mtoe). To compare technologies that generate electricity directly – nuclear, hydro, wind and solar – with oil, gas and coal, BP adjust the data thus:
Converted on the basis of thermal equivalence assuming 38% conversion efficiency in a modern thermal power station.
In other words, rather than adjusting oil, gas and coal down to account for thermal losses in conversion to electricity, the primary electricity is adjusted up by 100/38. If a different convention were used, such as may be the case for official EU statistics, then different results will be obtained.
Details of 2020 targets are given here, where it says:
The EU’s Renewable energy directive sets a binding target of 20% final energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020. To achieve this, EU countries have committed to reaching their own national renewables targets ranging from 10% in Malta to 49% in Sweden. They are also each required to have at least 10% of their transport fuels come from renewable sources by 2020.
All EU countries have adopted national renewable energy action plans showing what actions they intend to take to meet their renewables targets. These plans include sectorial targets for electricity, heating and cooling, and transport; planned policy measures; the different mix of renewables technologies they expect to employ; and the planned use of cooperation mechanisms.
The same web page says this:
In 2014, the projected share of renewable energy in the gross final energy consumption is 15.3%.
According to BP, the figure is 13.2% for 2014 so the various data sets are not exactly aligned as was dealt with by Roger. This may be due to different conventions used to normalise different energy sources to a common datum as discussed above.
Finally before proceeding to look at the data, it is important to note, as Roger brought to our attention, countries have got different targets for 2020. The table shows these self declared targets, which, unweighted, work out at an average of 20.2%. The second column shows my projected estimates, the details of which are discussed below and in Part II of this post.
The European Union Primary Energy
EU primary energy consumption peaked at 1839 Mtoe in 2006 and since then has fallen by 11.8% to 2014. Many countries display this type of pattern and it is pertinent to ask why decades of energy and economic growth has turned into a decade of energy decline and economic stagnation? There are a number of factors that may explain this but a prime candidate is the energy price inflation that took place in the period 2002 to 2008 that culminated in the finance crash. The earlier spike in oil price back in 1980 produced a similar though more short-lived effect. It is also pertinent to ask to what extent on-going high energy prices are caused by EU energy policy that targets CO2 emissions? Other factors include the ongoing € crisis and unsustainable levels of debt.
Converting the above to percentages we see that coal has been the main loser in the European energy transition that has been an evolving act since 1965. In simple terms coal has been replaced by natural gas and nuclear in electricity generation and space heating. In the last decade we see the impact of the EU dictated Energiewende. We see how pathetic solar production is, a consequence of misguided deployment of solar panels in high latitudes where The Sun seldom shines and shines barely at all in winter. The “Other” category is mainly biomass, a euphemism for N American forests.
The renewables component now amounts to 13.2% but of that 5.2% is legacy hydro. Thus the EU Energiewende so far has resulted in the addition of 8% to the primary energy budget. Has this been worth it? Can the environment withstand more? The lines projecting to 2020 project renewables growth from which it can be seen that the EU as a whole will likely miss the 20% target by a narrow margin. This assumes that investment continues apace, which it might not do.
The European Union Biofuels
The analysis of biofuels presented here assumes that all oil consumed is used as liquid fuel which is clearly not the case. Hence this analysis is simplistic and will underestimate the % of biofuel in the transport sector. However, this UK DECC report says:
Consumption in the transport sector represented 38 per cent of total final consumption of UK energy products in 2014.
In 2014, oil represented 36.8% of total UK primary energy consumed (according to BP). And so I believe the assumption that all oil is used in transport will not be too wide of the mark.
The chart shows that EU biofuels production are insignificant compared to oil consumption. And it must be borne in mind that the biofuels are themselves created out of fertiliser and pesticides (made from petroleum), diesel and electricity. There is very little primary energy addition in the creation of biofuels but they do reduce food supplies and produce upwards pressure on food prices.
Note that this chart is not zero scaled. EU biofuel production stalled at about 2% of oil+biofuel in around 2010. The transparent idiocy of trying to replace oil with food has evidently persuaded most countries to abandon the folly. Each of the 10 countries I’ve looked at show similar low levels of penetration. I’m unsure what sanctions there will be for countries failing to obey the orders from Brussels?
At this point it was my intention to present and discuss the charts for the 10 selected countries. There are a range of interesting observations to be made. But this would have grown into a monster post. And so here I present the data for the UK as an example and will present the remaining countries in a separate post.
Since 1965, UK energy consumption has actually been quite flat. It reflects the EU picture of gas and nuclear substituting for coal. There was a near term peak consumption of 228 Mtoe in 2005 with a subsequent decline brought about by high energy prices and energy policies. It remains to be seen if this decline is a good thing or not.
In 2010, when the 2020 targets were set, the UK basically had a standing start. Scottish hydro that produces up to 1 GW peak supply is largely irrelevant at the UK scale. The UK embarked upon a three pronged strategy of 1) deploying solar PV, 2) deploying onshore and offshore wind turbines and 3) converting coal fired power stations to burn North American wood.
The UK set itself a modest target of 15% renewables by 2020 that it seems likely to miss by 1 to 2 percent, assuming that investment continues apace which it may not do with subsidies being rolled back and a countryside already full of wind turbines and disgruntled citizens.
In 2014, the UK had 7.3% of total energy from new renewables. And so, if the target is to be met, one needs to imagine the level of deployment almost doubling between then and 2020. The problem is not just finding suitable sites and combating negative public opinion but more crucially is one of keeping the fossil fuel generators in business since they provide essential load balancing service and backup. There are signs that the UK Government and Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, are growing weary of the universal need for subsidies of one form or another to keep the electricity generation sector alive. It is possible that over the next 5 years that the UK flirtation with wind and solar may stall. Should the UK vote to leave the EU then it will definitely stall in England and Wales.
Should the UK miss its 15% target as seems increasingly likely then there is a provision for the UK to haggle with countries that have exceeded theirs and to some how accrue part of their production. A key part of the existing UK strategy is to greatly expand interconnection with Europe from current 3 to future 12 GW. Having successfully got rid of steel production it seems that next in line for offshoring is electricity production getting rid of those pesky emissions, jobs and prosperity.
The original 2010 EU energy bill makes for interesting reading:
The price of failure is too high.
Energy is the life blood of our society. The well-being of our people, industry and economy depends on safe, secure, sustainable and affordable energy. At the same time, energy related emissions account for almost 80% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions. The energy challenge is thus one of the greatest tests which Europe has to face. It will take decades to steer our energy systems onto a more secure and sustainable path. Yet the decisions to set us on the right path are needed urgently as failing to achieve a well-functioning European energy market will only increase the costs for consumers and put Europe’s competitiveness at risk.
Over the next ten years, energy investments in the order of € 1 trillion are needed, both to diversify existing resources and replace equipment and to cater for challenging and changing energy requirements. Structural changes in energy supply, partly resulting from changes in indigenous production, oblige European economies to choose among energy products and infrastructures. These choices will be felt over the next 30 years and more. To enable these decisions to be taken urgently calls for an ambitious policy framework. Postponing these decisions will have immeasurable repercussions on society as regards both longer-term costs and security.
The fundamental importance of safe, secure and affordable energy is hailed and recognised but The Commission has none the less set out to wreck The Continent’s safe, secure and affordable energy system. I dare say this has not been intentional but it must surely be time to sack all the economists and to employ engineers instead.
While it is normally Germany’s Energiewende that is in the news, it is in fact Italy, Spain, Portugal and Denmark that are leading the EU renewables charge. While the Danish economy is normally in rude health, the question does need to be asked to what extent over indulgence in RE lies at the heart of economic malaise in these other countries?
Following the theme of Roger’s earlier post it is noted that there are large discrepancies between the Eurostat numbers and BP. Eurostat has the UK on 5.1% in 2013 while I / BP estimate 6.3%. That is a large absolute difference. Eurostat has Sweden on 52% in 2013 (impossible) while I / BP estimate 37% RE.