EU Renewable Energy Targets: The Compliance Statistics are Suspect

This post examines EU renewable energy targets and how the various member states are doing in meeting the targets agreed for 2020. It has been found that the compliance data published by Eurostat do not agree with the raw Eurostat or BP statistics.

On April 23, 2009 the European Parliament issued Directive 2009/28/EC, which committed the European Union to obtaining 20% of its energy – note energy, not electricity – from renewable sources by 2020. Figure 1 summarizes the progress individual EU countries had made towards their individual 2020 targets as of the end of 2013, the last year for which data are available from Eurostat, the EU’s official record-keeper. (Only 21 of the 28 EU countries are discussed here because data for Estonia, Croatia, Cyprus, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta and Slovenia are incomplete. Renewables generation in these countries is, however, minimal):

Figure 1: Compliance with EU renewables directive targets as of end 2013, data from Eurostat “overall share of energy from renewable resources”

With seven years to go Sweden, Bulgaria and Lithuania had already met or exceeded their 2020 targets, Romania, Italy, the Czech Republic, Finland and Austria were within a percent or so of meeting theirs and all the countries between Denmark and Germany were estimated to be on a “trajectory” that would bring them into compliance before 2020. The EU as a whole was within 5% of its collective 20% target and was, and still is, expected to meet it.

At the bottom, however, are four laggard countries that were and still are projected to miss their targets – Ireland, France, the Netherlands and, ignominiously bringing up the rear, the UK.

How did the UK end up down there?

One reason is the target the UK set itself. For whatever reason the UK agreed to increase its renewables share more than any other EU country. When it signed onto the EU directive in 2009 renewables supplied only 3% of the UK’s energy, so the 15% target the UK committed to represented an effective increase of 12%. France, Ireland and the Netherlands, the other three laggard countries, also committed to effective increases of 10% or more. Germany and Italy, however, committed to effective increases of only 8%, Spain to only 7% and Austria and Sweden to less than 4%. Effective increases by country are summarized in Figure 2:

Figure 2: Effective increase in percent renewables between 2009 and 2020 committed to by EU countries, calculated as 2020 target minus percent renewables in 2009

Figure 3 provides a graphical perspective. It plots annual percent renewables generation by year between 2004 and 2013 for France, Germany, the UK and the EU28, draws trend lines through the points and projects them to 2020, where national targets are shown as squares (data again from Eurostat). Germany and the EU28 will meet their targets (barely) so long as they maintain their trajectory, but France is going to have to pull out all  the stops to have any chance of meeting its target and only a miracle can save the UK:

Figure 3: Progress towards meeting 2020 renewables targets, France, Germany, UK and EU28

But another reason for the UK’s disappointing performance is that the Figure 1 data have  been manipulated – I don’t think deliberately to the UK’s disadvantage, but that’s the way it has turned out.

How do I deduce that the Figure 1 data have been been manipulated? Well, the accepted way of calculating the percentage of renewables in a country’s energy mix is to divide total energy from renewables by total energy consumption. Eurostat publishes these numbers, given in millions of tons of oil equivalent, in two data sets called “primary production of renewable energy” and “gross inland consumption of energy”. I checked these data sets against the data in the 2015 BP Statistical Review and found that they they indeed show total energy from renewables and total energy consumption (details omitted to avoid cluttering up the text but available on request). So when I divide one by the other I should get the results shown in Figure 1, right?

But I get something quite different:

Figure 4: Compliance with EU renewables directive targets as of end 2013, calculated from Eurostat’s “primary production of renewable energy” and “gross inland consumption of energy” data sets

Everyone is now in the red and the EU is collectively 8.5% rather than 5% away from meeting its 2020 target. The UK has moved up three places, Hungary has gone from eleventh to third, Spain has moved up from fourteenth to sixth and Sweden has fallen from first to dead last.

What’s going on here?

There is only one possible explanation – the Figure 1 percentages, the EU’s official estimates, have somehow been “adjusted”, and as illustrated in Figure 5 the adjustments are not small:

Figure 5: Percentage adjustments applied to Figure 4 data to obtain Figure 1 data

Every country except the Netherlands gains percentage points and the EU moves 3.5% closer to meeting its collective 2020 target. But the gains range from less than a percent for Hungary, Spain, Portugal and the UK up to an eye-popping 18% for Sweden.

What is the basis for these adjustments? I have been unable to find out. Maybe someone else can tell me. But I can hazard a guess as to how they arose. Eurostat runs the input data through its “SHARES” (SHort Assessment of Renewable Energy Sources) tool, which provides a harmonised calculation of the share of energy from renewable sources. Anyone with a couple of months to spend working with Eurostat’s spreadsheets could probably figure out exactly what SHARES does, but it sounds suspiciously like another homogenization algorithm to me. Enough said.

So where does this leave the UK? If the UK flunks its EU renewables target it would not only be embarrassing – particularly after all the claims the UK has made about being a world leader in renewables – but the UK could also be fined by the EU for flunking it. The UK government in fact already seems to have accepted that the UK will miss its target and is considering ways of not getting fined, as noted in this recent Blowout article. But accepting defeat at this early stage would be premature. Before admitting non-compliance and certainly before paying any fines the UK should insist on an audit of Eurostat’s data, procedures and results, including an estimation of error bars, carried out by a fully- independent entity (Eurostat is a branch of the European Commission). Questions certainly need to be asked when the official numbers conflict so heavily with the raw data. It might in fact be a good idea to start proceedings now. These things can take time to work their way through the courts.

Finally, and purely as a matter of interest, where does the UK stand when renewables percentages are calculated using the BP data? It doesn’t get a great deal closer to meeting its 15%-by-2020 target but at least it’s no longer languishing down there with the laggards:

Figure 6: Compliance with EU renewables directive targets as of end 2013, calculated from BP’s “primary energy consumption” and “renewable energy consumption” data

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59 Responses to EU Renewable Energy Targets: The Compliance Statistics are Suspect

  1. Willem Post says:


    “….only a miracle can save the UK”

    Sure, leave the EU, and put an end to all that nonsense, including refuge quotas. What is next?

    In my recent article, I came to the conclusion* only nuclear is viable, with some wind, solar, hydro, and biomass.

    The world’s oceans hold about 4,400,000 metric ton of Uranium. Thermal reactors burn up only about 1%, breeder reactors burn up nearly 100%.

    * That conclusion revealed itself after I had made a miscalculation. When I corrected my spreadsheets, it turned out wind and solar are bonkers.

  2. Hugh Sharman says:

    My Heavens, Roger! What a beaver you are for unearthing tax-paid EU baloney!

    As regards the risk of EU fines that will never be paid any way, the greater danger to the UK’s certain shortfall of the 2020 targets lies in their “legally binding” nature.

    We have not seen it yet, but somewhere in the undergrowth, the enormously well-funded “environmentalists” are planning to force HMG to court to “enforce” legal compliance. They will win of course! The Climate Change Act of 2008 was supported by all but 8 extraordinarily brave MPs. Cameron and Osborne supported Ed Milliband’s disastrous bill!

    I cannot see these miscreants being bundled off to prison. Revoking the Climate Change Act would be too massively embarrassing, as the Conservatives’ would be revealed as U-turning on the “greatest threat facing humanity”!

    All in all, what a mess!

    Thanks for your sterling efforts!

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Hugh / Roger, figure 3 shows that the UK is never going to reach its self imposed unreachable target. If you have a law that cannot be kept by anyone then you must surely be obliged to scrap that law.

      Where is the evidence that 20% of energy from renewables has any benefit for any person or ecosystem? Pursuing a decree that is wrecking Europe’s countryside and economies is insane. The sooner Cameron and Osborne awake to this reality the better.

      • If you have a law that cannot be kept by anyone then you must surely be obliged to scrap that law.

        Speed limits are routinely violated but are kept in place as a means of raising revenues. And the EU needs all the money it can get – 250 billion for the North Sea Supergrid alone ………

      • mark4asp says:

        Renewable energy often does not reduce green house gas emissions. See: “Germany: Case Study in The Failure of Green Energy”, by Alicia Cerretani, Benjamin Deniston, 2015

        • Günter Weber says:


          here’s my daring thesis: Shutting down FF power plants reduces GHG emissions. Building Renewable energy plants only increases the production of GHG free electricity.

        • Peter Lang says:

          France is much worse in that way. Increasing renewables in France will displace nuclear power. But renewables require gas for back up. So replacing some nuclear with renewables plus more gas use, will increase emissions intensity of electricity, not decrease it.

  3. Gidon Gerber says:

    Imports of renewable energy into the EU may explain the observed discrepancy. The EU imports a lot of biofuels and biomass that is used for electricity generation. (The Drax power station is the largest user of imported wood pellets in the UK.) These imports are not EU primary production, but count towards the renewables target in energy consumption.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      The EU imports a lot of biofuels and biomass

      You mean we import what used to be called food and forest timber and pretend that using that as fuel is Green?

      But you could be right that the discrepancy lies in the accounting. I just checked the BP definition:

      * Based on gross generation from renewable sources including wind, geothermal, solar, biomass and waste, and not accounting for cross-border electricity supply.

      So it looks like BP is dealing only with electricity and not transport fuel. And cross border trade is excluded.

      • Interconnector flows in Europe aren’t large enough to make a significant difference, and it’s impossible to know how much of the exported-imported electricity was renewable anyway. I suspect that the discrepancies are mostly to do with the way biomass and biofuels are accounted for but don’t have any specifics.

        • Peter Lang says:


          Interconnector flows in Europe aren’t large enough to make a significant difference, and it’s impossible to know how much of the exported-imported electricity was renewable anyway.

          Actually, it is possible to estimate “how much of the exported-imported electricity was renewable anyway”. Joe Wheatley has done it for Australia’s National Electricity Market for the interstate transfers between five states for 2014 . Look at Sections 2.4, 2.5 and 3.3 (and the included figures) here:

          • The wind blows in Denmark and surplus power flows into Norway. This is wind power, right? Oh no, say the Danes, all of our wind power is consumed domestically. That’s how we get such a high percentage of renewables in our energy mix. What’s going north is fossil fuel generation. Some of it might even have come from Germany ….

            Electrons are electrons are electrons. Once they get into the grid it’s impossible to say where they came from.

          • Euan Mearns says:

            But they can be two or more places at once 😉

  4. Owen says:

    Could be adjustments for interconnection although my understanding is this would be in breach of counting rules

    • Owen says:

      Actually the fact that Sweden, Denmark and Finland are 1,2 and 4 in Fig 5 probably means it is adjustments for i/c from Norway. This would devastate Norway’s RES targets but of course its handy they are not in EU.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Owen, I suspect you are right that cross border trade complicates matters. In my comment above I note that BP excludes that.

      One thing I’d note is that high nuclear high hydro Sweden, France and Finland occupy 3 of the bottom 4 places. Hence if you start off with an effectively CO2 free electricity supply it is very hard to reduce emissions.

      • Owen says:

        Euan, if you see Fig 5 above Sweden, Denmark and Finland occupy 1,2 and 4 in the biggest adjustments to the “raw” data. If we see the EU rules on interconnection :

        “Imported electricity is also considered zero carbon from Ireland’s perspective under the Kyoto Protocol as emissions are counted in the jurisdiction in which they are emitted.”

        So if the above 3 countries were importing hydro and wind from Norway it shouldn’t count towards their RES targets (likewise coal power imported from UK to Ireland does not count in Ireland’s fuel mix).

        But possibly because Norway is outside the EU, they are counting it ?

        • Euan Mearns says:

          So the UK accrues Ireland’s emissions? 🙁 This flies in the face on the conventions with FF where it is the point of consumption that is used for accounting, not the point of production.

  5. The two main problems of course are

    1. No allowance is made to how far a country is along the path already. In other words a renewable portfolio is assumed to be carbon free/low and should advance an reduction in carbon emissions. So shouldn’t countries that already have low carbon be given a credit?

    2. Exports. I do not like seeing consumption figures when used with energy but especially not with electricity generation which, is often equated with electricity consumption. Now while overall this is small hat, taking individual energy sources such as solar in Germany for example, makes problems. The Fraunhofer data sets seem to indicate a correlation between solar generation and increased exports. Should this be taken to Germany’s credit?

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Don, Two very good points. If yo look at Fig 3 (one of the finest charts I’ve seen for a while) you see that in 2004 the UK had about 1% from renewables. We live on an overcrowded, rather flat island. We have 1.5GW of hydro which for Scotland counts as a lot but spread across the UK its not much. I’m guessing it was this low base that prompted the UK to set such an ambitious target.

      Allocating emissions to source or point of consumption? With FF they accrue to the country of consumption. But I’ve often felt that countries like Norway should be punished for all the proto-emissions they produce 😉 Of course it is the whole emissions concept that is non-sensical. If one wants to go this route, then it is energy or FF consumption that should be rationed on a per capita basis.

      Lets say FF were rationed. Then a country could choose to expand its energy base using renewables or nuclear.

      • Lars says:

        No problem Euan, we should reduce our energy exports to avoid those “proto-emissions”. May I suggest we start by stopping the supplies of 25% of your total energy consumption in the UK? Should be no problem if you are really serious about it…

        • Euan Mearns says:

          Lars, of course I’m not serious. The UK is extremely lucky to have a close oil and gas rich ally like Norway joined by many pipelines to the NE. But Norway is a dirty Man of Europe – I don’t mind, what I do mind is being preached to by Norwegians about how squeaky green they are. I lived there for 8 years, its a marvellous country, yachts, cabins, Mercedes Benz and Teslas all over the place.

          Same for Germany. How can a country that makes Porsches, Audis, Mercedes Benz, BMWs and Volkswagens designed to burn oil all over the world and in Germany with no speed limit lay any claim what so ever to a Green credential?

          It is the wealth bestowed on Norway and Germany by the FF industries that provides means for rampant Green hypocrisy in both countries.

          • Lars says:

            Euan, I realised that and I just threw in a bit of sarcasm here but I disagree with the concept that energy providers should be “punished” 🙂

            Of course hypocrisy is all over the place including here and in Germany. I for one realise that we are not so green as some think, for instance we still have a very high per capita oil consumption. And in those areas we are green it is due to fortunate natural resources and a small population base, absolutely nothing else whatsoever.

            You are Roger do a wonderful job as “myth busters” dealing with green hypocrisy and thanks a lot for that.

  6. Two big problems

    1. Renewable portfolios exist so as to reduce CO2 emissions. So shouldn’t countries that have low CO2 emissions already be given a credit?

    2. Electricity generation and consumption are often equated. Overall this might seem like nit picking. But take German solar. There seems to be a correlation between solar generation and exports. Should Germany be given credit for this or the country that is actually using the electricity? What about the Danish round trip or Irish curtailment, are these accounted for?

  7. Pingback: What’s wrong with this picture? | The Law is my Oyster

  8. Lars says:

    Euan is right, the numbers from the EUs Renewables Directive look flawed from start with in 2005. It blows my mind.

    For example, according to Renewables Directive Sweden had a 39,8% share of renewables in 2005 and its target for 2020 is 49%.
    But Eurostat statistics tell us that the share of renewables in consumption in 2013 was just 34,15%, even below the 2005 starting point.

    Sweden 2013: 16,77 mtoe renewables production v. 49,1 mtoe total energy consumption = 34,15%

    So what`s going on here? Could it be that the EU Directive`s 2005 numbers look at each country`s individual renewables production versus total domestic energy production only, in other words that imports of energy are omitted?

    • Pat: Could you explain what the legal issue is?

      • Peter Lang says:

        In case Pat doesn’t respond, this may be some help and interest:

        Pat Swords made an interesting submission to the 2015 Australian Senate “Select Committee on Wind Turbines” (Submission No. 253): . In his opening remarks he includes an excerpt from a recent article in Journal of Energy and Natural Resources Law:

        On 1 July 2010, Ireland gave an ambitious pledge to convert a significant share of electricity generation from conventional to onshore wind generation. This pledge was designed to support a legal obligation to reach a 16 per cent share in renewable energy consumption by 2020. More recently, buoyed by the apparent success of the initial policy, the Irish Government indicated its intention to explore the potential for a wind generated electricity export market. However, problems are evident that threaten these ambitions as Ireland’s wind policy and most of its commercial wind developments (namely those constructed before 2011) are open to legal challenge for having breached EU law. Although the case law that supports this proposition will be considered solely in relation to the threat it poses to Ireland’s wind policy and developments, the jurisprudence has broad-ranging implications for renewable energy across the EU, and for environmental lawyers and policy-makers in all 28 of the EU’s Member States.

        His covering letter continues:

        “In other words, as the Article written by some of the foremost legal experts in Ireland concludes, “what is apparent is that a large potential for lawsuits exists”. Indeed, the article references the work completed by myself in bringing a legal case successfully against the EU at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s (UNECE) legal tribunal in Geneva, which found that the EU had failed in its renewable programme to provide the necessary information to the public and ensure active public participation in decision-making. Which is also a breach of Community law.

        It is increasingly clear that the population of rural Ireland are not going to stand by and have more than three thousand wind turbines and several thousand kilometers of new high voltage lines built around them, for a programme which is completely dysfunctional and unnecessary. As such there are an increasing amount of legal cases now entering the Select Committee on Wind Turbines Submission 253 Courts, despite the very high financial barriers to access to justice. Indeed, the only reason as to why the EU’s renewable programme has proceeded as far as it has, is that time and time gain the necessary legal procedures related to assessment and democratic accountability were by-passed. Simple populism and slogans triumphed the legally required evaluation and public participation in decision-making.

        Sadly, when one looks at the balance of what has been achieved with the more than €600 billion of capital investment in wind turbines and solar panels to date in the EU Member States, then the answer is essentially squat zero. More information on this can be found at the article below and attached prepared by myself and entitled “Clean energy, what is it and what are we paying for?”

        Download his covering letter to the ‘Select Committee on Wind Turbines” and the two attachments here:

  9. Günter Weber says:

    Sweden has a lot of heat pumps. And in Sweden you need a lot of heating. If you have ‘green’ electricity going into a heat pump and then you count the ‘green heat’, you earn a factor 4.

    Just an idea what might lead to the huge adjustment in Sweden.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Good try Gunter, but the way this should work is that the energy consumed is divided by 4. Heat pumps are certainly a good way to reduce energy use. And Sweden is heavy on nuclear power.

      • Günter Weber says:

        If was a statistic nerd who has the job to blow up Sweden ‘green’ energy production, I would simply count the heat that was generated by the heat pump as the relevant energy production. (Assuming that a high portion of the input electricity is green – Sweden has 50% hydro.)

        Example: If at the beginning all houses were heated with FF and later I switch 50% of them to heat pumps. We assume that necessary heating stays the same. In the beginning I has X GWh from FF on the input side. Later I have only X/2 GWh FF and X/8 GWh electricity for the heat pumps. But looking this way, the share of green energy production stays small for the heating market. It is (50%*X/8)/(X/2+X/8). What really changed here is the total energy consumption of the heating market. It was decreased tremendously by the heat pumps. But I do not give a sh*t because my job is to increase the share of ‘green’ energy (on the paper). So, I ignore the input side of the heating system and instead look at the output side. Then the green portion of the heating sector is 1/4 (=(50%*X/2)/(X/2+X/2)).

        But this is just speculation what might play a role in Sweden.

  10. Here’s a chart from the Swedish Energy Agency:

    If I read it right it shows Sweden consuming 372TWh of primary energy in 2010, far more than the amounts estimated by BP (~230TWh) and Eurostat (~220TWh).

    The pie chart shows Sweden getting 141TWh of its energy from biofuels in 2010. Combined wind generation in the entire EU in 2010 was only 158TWh. Sweden got 62TWh from “wood fuels” – more than its nuclear plants generated (58TWh) and 44TWh came from “black liquor, tall oil and tall pitch oil”, not that much less than Sweden’s 2010 hydro generation (67TWh).

    I’m obviously missing something here.

    Incidentally, black liquor, tall oil and tall pitch oil are byproducts of energy-intensive pulp mills. You have to burn energy to produce them and they probably have an ERoEI of less than 1 (anyone have any numbers?). They are renewable only as long as the pulp mills keep operating. Sustainable they aren’t.

  11. olav says:

    Norway what more can we do…
    We are not a member of EU so all statistic is without Norway.
    By the way that is in my view the only disadvantage of not beeing a member.
    Anyway through other means is Norway bound or commanded by EU to
    increase the already very high renewable part.

    Electricity production is already 99% hydro.
    Electricity is used for all cooking, All space heating is from electricity & biomass.
    No need for fossil fuel for that. 90% of rail energy use is electric.
    A big part of energy intensive metal smelting in Europe takes place in Norway powered by Norwegian Hydro.
    50% of WW E Golf production is sold in Norway which is only 2% of European car marked.
    17% of all sold personal cars are now EV.
    Norway is the only country that starts electrifying offshore installations from shore by hydro produced electricity
    Norway is the leading country in utilizing batteries for costal shipping, so far only 1 ferry and 1 small fishing boat, but thoose numbers will increase fast.
    Norway does a lot of electric balancing services for our near neighbours.
    If Norway goes big into Offshore and Onshore wind it will decrease our possibility to provide that service as accepting exess wind and solar from our neighbours is limited by Norwegian consuption.

    • Günter Weber says:

      Olav, thanks for asking. Germany might need about 50 GWh hydro storage capacity. Otherweise we might to be forced to full braking when renewable production is somewhere between 50 and 60%.

      • Euan Mearns says:

        Gunter, you Germans really need to go build yourself some mountains. But a wait a minute, you have the Bavarian Alps. Drove around there quite a bit last year, don’t recall seeing a single dam. And saw only a single wind turbine. Lots of solar PV though.

        I’ve heard the Bavarians really like their beautiful country the way it is.

        • Günter Weber says:

          Most probably you are right. And I just noticed that I should have asked for 50 TWh, not 50 GWh.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Olav, you and Gunter are going to absolutely hate Monday’s post. Both Norway and Germany have higher per capita CO2 emissions than the UK. And since 2008, Norway has reduced emissions by 6.3%, Germany by 6.5% and the UK by 22%.

      I know its going to be very hard to come to terms with, but Norway and Germany are I’m afraid the dirty men of Europe. You can crow all you like about electric cars, electric boats and 100% hydro power. But the fact is Norwegians produced 8.6 tonnes CO2 per capita in 2014 and the UK 7.3. Germany an eye popping 9.9 tonnes per capita.

  12. PhilH says:

    Re Fig 3 for the UK – as financial offers say “past performance is not necessarily a guide to the future”. Better than a simple extrapolation would be to look at what’s actually in the pipeline.

    First, start with the latest data, now available through 2014 from DUKES 2015, which in para 6.45 & Tables 6D & 6.7 show that, according to the RED definitions:
    2010 – 3.8 %
    2011 – 4.2 %
    2012 – 4.7 %
    2013 – 5.6 %
    2014 – 7.0 %
    From my monitoring of continuing installations, from Energy Trends and elsewhere, I estimate:
    2015 – 7.7 %
    which is already what Fig 3 extrapolates for 2020.

    Looking ahead to what the situation is likely to be by 2020:

    1) The largest contribution to the UK’s renewables output, about half, is wind. There is 1GW of offshore under construction, and 4.5GW consented with CfDs. There is 5.5GW of onshore that meets the ROC curtailment grace period conditions, and probably another GW or two under construction. Of this 12+GW, say 10GW gets built, which is a 75% increase on the current 13GW.

    2) The second largest contribution to the UK’s renewables output, about a third, is thermal (biomass, biogases). Under the preliminary batch of CfDs, this is set to increase by about 30% on the current 4.5GW.

    3) The rest, about a sixth, is hydro, which is not set to increase significantly, and PV, whose range of potential increase is wide open, but let’s assume the worst case of not significant either.

    From which I estimate:
    2020 – 11.3 %

    Except that, since 2005 the UK’s energy consumption has fallen by about 20%, say 2%/yr, from improvements in energy efficiency, and from the secondary energy from the increasing renewables displacing a larger amount of primary energy from fossil fuels. Both factors have a way to run, so 2020’s total energy use should be 10% lower than 2015, making 2020’s currently scheduled renewable energy generation about 12.5% of consumption.

    This 12.5% is still somewhat short of the 15% target, but a much closer figure than the extrapolated 7.75% in Fig 3.

    • Here’s the government’s take on this, from the Blowout article linked to in the post:

      Contributions towards the UK’s target from energy used in the transport and heat sectors are well below what is needed, placing more of a burden on the electricity sector to make up the shortfall. However, cost-cutting changes to subsides for biomass, solar and onshore wind projects announced in June could see around 250 projects not being built, according to the new Energy and Climate Change secretary Amber Rudd. Analysis from consultants PWC showed Britain would need to generate more than 50 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 to meet the goal, up from around 20 per cent in 2014. “Technically the target could still be met if more renewable electricity capacity comes online, but for that to happen the funding cap would need to be increased while the recent measures have all been to cap overspend,” said Ronan O’Regan, director of renewables at PWC.

    • Peter Lang says:


      Could you please clarify whether the figures you quote are for electricity only or for total renewables? I understand Roger’s charts are for total renewables. If your figures are for electricity only, do you draw similar conclusions if you use figures for all renewables?

      • PhilH says:

        The percentages are for total energy (the version as defined by RED). However, I rashly assumed the RE contribution to total energy was all from RE electricity, forgetting the bioethanol in petrol, biodiesel in diesel, and non-electric-generation uses of biomass. Looking closer at DUKES 2015 Tables 6.6 & 6.7, I see those components are substantial (there’s a lot more domestic wood-burning going on than I would have thought). Assuming the bio road fuels don’t grow, and the non-electric biomass continues to grow at its 2010-14 rate (as I don’t have any better info), I’d revise my estimates down to:
        2015 – 7.5 %
        2020 – 10 % (before assuming 10% total energy reduction) -> 11 % (after)

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Phil, good comment, but I thought that RE investment was slowing?

      and from the secondary energy from the increasing renewables displacing a larger amount of primary energy from fossil fuels.

      BP say this:

      ” * Based on gross generation from renewable sources including wind, geothermal, solar, biomass and waste, and not accounting for cross-border electricity supply. Converted on the basis of thermal equivalence assuming 38% conversion efficiency in a modern thermal power station.”

      I think this means that the actual renewables generation is grossed up to account for the non-existent thermal losses with renewables in order to “normalise” this to some form of thermal generation equivalent. But the statistics are a mine field.

      Otherwise I hope you are wrong in you estimations, since I believe this whole policy is incredibly harmful to both environment and economy and in many cases to the well-being of the population.

      • PhilH says:

        There are a lot of projects are various stages in the pipeline. I suspect the 250 projects mentioned in Roger’s comment’s quote would be the ones that are falling foul of the changes, and which I assumed (perhaps too readily) would all not be built. The ROC & CfD subsidies for the ones I used are not to be withdrawn, though the final investment decisions for many of them are yet to be made, so a few may not get built. Additionally, most/all(?) of them will, bizarrely, be charged the Climate Change Levy, which changes their finances a bit. I have seen a report that one of the coal-to-wood conversions is to be cancelled due to that; others of various technologies may follow if Drax’s legal challenge fails. To that extent, my estimate would have to be lowered. Against that it should be increased for: further rounds of CfDs; anything that gets consented & built before the end of the ROC scheme; projects that get built under the continuing, but lowered, FiT rates; and various other projects, such as Ecotricity’s grass-fed AD gas to grid programme. At which point, the exercise moves from estimation to guesstimation.

        The effect of bringing forward the subsidy endings will be to accelerate RE investment & building, at least in the short term, to get in before the new deadlines. To the extent that that improves RE’s economies of scale and competitiveness with other generation, that process would accelerate too. (Law of unintended consequences.)

        Regarding the incidental point that 1 unit of PV/wind generation replaces about 2 units of FF burning, I was thinking mainly in general. I mostly use UK gov’t statistics (DUKES & Energy Trends), where I don’t remember anything about grossing up (but I’ll keep an eye out in future). My estimations above are just scaling up whatever system is already used, so whether the RED uses it or not should make negligible difference.

  13. Peter Lang says:

    Roger Andrews,

    This is another thought provoking, and concerning, post; but I am somewhat surprised by this:

    “If the UK flunks its EU renewables target it would not only be embarrassing … but the UK could also be fined by the EU for flunking it. The UK government in fact already seems to have accepted that the UK will miss its target …”

    Surely UK has its own data and surely it would be doing its own analyses? If it has accepted it’s going to miss the target, their analyses must confirm the Eurostat numbers.

  14. luc says:

    Here is the most complete statistics about electricity production from renewable energy sources.

    For most countries, 5 figures are available.

    – Electricity production from hydraulic sources
    – Electricity production from wind sources
    – Electricity production from biomasse
    – Electricity production from geothermal sources
    – Electricity production from solar sources

    Worldwide electricity production from renewable energy sources
    Edition 2013

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