European Renewables Investment Heads Towards Zero

In its submission in advance of the December climate conference in Paris the EU committed to reduce its overall emissions at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. Achieving this target, which the EU says is legally binding, will obviously require a very large investment in renewables. Yet according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance investment in “clean energy” in Europe has been declining steadily since the second quarter of 2011 and looks set to flatten out at a value effectively indistinguishable from zero in the not-too-distant future:

As reported in Blowout Week 93 Angus Crone, senior analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, blames the decline on a reduction in subsidies: The large drop (in Q3 2015) also follows on recent changes in government policy that have struck against green energy. Support policies have become less friendly to wind and solar investors in several countries, including Italy, Germany, Denmark and, most recently, the UK. To these unfriendly countries we can also add Spain, which reneged on billions of dollars of renewables subsidies in 2012, and France, which is now reportedly in the process of doing away with feed-in tariffs.

So how are the governments of the EU28 going to meet their collective 40%-by-2030 reduction target without forking out yet more hundreds of billions in renewables subsidies, something none of them seem to have any inclination to do and which some of them are no longer able to afford anyway?

Beats me.

But suggestions welcome.

This entry was posted in Energy and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to European Renewables Investment Heads Towards Zero

  1. Hugh Sharman says:

    Indeed! I now expect the very well-funded “environmentalists” to bring winnable law-suits against their Governments who have legally binding (NB, not in italics) targets for renewables and CO2 emission reduction targets.

    Take a look at

    I don’t expect their families will starve……

  2. Roy Ramage says:

    It will be up to local communities, councils and groups. In Australia according to the GreenInstitute, Energy governance is stranded in the world of 20 years ago and failing to keep up with the demand for change, let alone get ahead of it. It is designed to deliver electrons and gas, not to supply modern energy services — that is the things we really want like heating and cooling, mobility and lighting, hot food and icecreams.

    Australia’s energy ministers, meeting as the COAG Energy Council, are collectively responsible for energy governance through the 2004 Australian Energy Market Agreement (AEMA). Decisions that should be exposed for debate and parliamentary scrutiny are made by energy ministers behind closed doors. The community has no effective voice in the process either directly or through ministers from other affected portfolios. The ministerial council itself has no accountability other than to COAG.

    AEMA is well past its use-by date. It is not serving the interests of consumers let alone the community more broadly. And it is profoundly anti-democratic. It should be abolished — that would free up the system and enable us to start the transition to something better suited to today’s realities.

    Local groups and communites will have to improvise and take the innitiative.

    • oldfossil says:

      Roy, I admit complete ignorance of the situation and ask for clarification of the difference between modern energy services and the supply of raw energy in the form of electrons and gas.

      I am not a fan of big government because almost everything government does, it does appallingly badly. Does the vacuum not represent an opportunity for private enterprise?

  3. jim brough says:

    Maybe economic lessons are being learned and investors realise that the renewable energy revolution is not going to work as THE solution to anthropogenic global warming from CO2 emissions.
    I have some cartoons dated 1976 when the world was predicting the next ice age. I’ll be happy to send them to anybody interested.

  4. PhilH says:

    The EU had already cut its GHGs (inc land use) by 19% from 1990 to 2013, so probably has by 20% by 2015 (

    How to increase that to 40% by 2030?:

    a) Replacing coal-fired electricity generation with gas-fired would provide ~5% (electricity is about a third of total energy use; a quarter of EU’s electricity comes from coal; gas’s CO2 intensity is half coal’s).

    b) Part of the EU’s INDC to Paris 2015 is an improvement in energy efficiency of 27% by 2030, though I can’t find the baseline for that, nor whether it’s meant to be per unit GDP or a reduction in total energy use. The UK has reduced its total energy use, not just per unit GDP, by ~10% in the last 10yr, ie ~1%/yr. If that rate can be replicated EU-wide over 2015-2030, that would provide the other ~15%.

    c) All that is without any more RE of today’s technologies, UK’s plans to build 15GW of new nuclear, or new, better-value, RE technologies coming to market (eg Perovskite PV, organic electronics PV).

    Of course real-world political realities may make (a) hard, though the possibilities of (c) may offset that.

    • Phil

      As far as I was aware, overall EU 28 primary energy use had pretty much flat lined for the last few years after the recession wobble recovered. If more and more heavy industry plants close, this will result in some small changes but likely, we will not see significant year on year changes.

      Further I worked briefly on perovskite pv @ ECN. The advances in relation to the UK market will be marginal. Putting solar on roofs in the UK is still miles or even kilometers away.

  5. Günter Weber says:

    The peak 2010-11 is probably due to the PV bonanza where we saw high installation numbers at still relatively high prices per installed capacity. Today one can build PV for less than half of the 2010 prices.
    I expect that a diagram showing the numbers for installed capacity would show a similar trend but much less pronounced.

    • Willem Post says:


      If PV prices were responsible for much of the rise, it merely magnifies the stupidity of the effort.

      Increased offshore wind investments likely made up for reductions in PV investments.

      Germany went from 7300 MW PV to about 1600 MW in 2015

      • robertok06 says:

        “Germany went from 7300 MW PV to about 1600 MW in 2015”

        … and Italy has gone from 9 GWp in 2011 (number 1 on the planet) to 127 MWp in the first 6 months of 2015.

    • The 2011 peak was indeed largely although not entirely due to the “PV bonanza” (note that the graphic includes the Middle East and part of Asia as well as Europe):

    • robertok06 says:

      “I expect that a diagram showing the numbers for installed capacity would show a similar trend but much less pronounced.”

      Talking about normalization of the data… then one should also take into account the capacity factor of each technology in the country where it is installed… 40 GWp of PV in Germany are equivalent, energy-wise, to 4.5 GWe…

  6. wawa says:

    2011 year of peak “green invest” lol.
    as peak oil follows peak discovery, peak “green production” would follows peak “green invest” 20 or 20 years later (the life time of green invest).

    the best way to reduce co2 emission : recession or/and nukes

    “legaly binding” is just a joke

  7. wawa says:

    10 or 20 years later. sorry

  8. gweberbv says:

    From my point of view, the most effective way to limit emissions is to foster insulation of buildings together with the installation of heat pumps. The first measure might reduce consumption by a factor of 2 to 3. The second reduces energy consumption for heating by another factor of 3 to 4.Tthen it depends on the characteristics of the electricity how ‘clean’ or ‘dirty’ the whole thing is.

    • Willem Post says:

      Insulation and heat pumps will help, but “2 to 3” and “another 3 to 4” are way off the mark.

      Here is an article with a lot of detailed analysis regarding buildings, heat pumps, etc. Read it and your comments will improve.

      • oldfossil says:

        Thanks for the interesting, fact-filled link Willem. It gives me lots to chew on.

        I read recently that what you call “tight” houses have been linked to a rise in disease thanks to the lack of what our parents always told us to get lots of — fresh air. What do you think?

        • Günter Weber says:


          in a new house with tight windows the ‘automatic’ replacement rate for the air inside the building is maybe 0.05 per hour. Venting is a must.

      • Günter Weber says:


        imperial units (and everything else non-SI) are really a mess. My favourite is the pound-force per square inch.

        But let’s have a look at the numbers that I know. For the average house in Germany, a typical heating energy consumption of roughly 150 kWh/m2/year is stated.

        If you equip such a house with new new windows, a proper insulation and a modern heating system, you will end up with an energy consumption of the order of 50 to 75 kWh/m2/year. To reach the lower bound you will also need to install a ventilation system with energy recovery – which make sense anyways for tight houses.

        The technology is there for a decade or more. The only thing you need is money.
        From 2016 on it is mandatory for new houses in Germany to reach values between roughly 35 and 60 kWh/m2/year.

        Considering heat pumps: If your reservoir is air, in Central Europe you can expect to get 3 kWh out for every kWh you put in the system (averaged over the year). If your reservoir is soil/groundwater, you may reach up to a factor of 5.

  9. Javier says:

    So how are the governments of the EU28 going to meet their collective 40%-by-2030 reduction target?

    By economic contraction clearly. I have little doubt that the reduction will be accomplished.

    • jacobress says:

      But, will the economic contraction be fast and big enough to achieve the carbon reduction goals?

      • Javier says:

        I think so. We are not just facing a run of the mill recession here, but a triple crisis scheduled to hit in the 2015-2030 interval:

        – A general resource crisis, as we have run out of the cheap easy to obtain resources and are moving fast towards the expensive hard to obtain resources due to our explosive population growth. Paradoxically this is manifesting as an affordability problem so resources are becoming not only more expensive to obtain, but less demanded, and thus are facing a double hit from increasing costs and decreasing prices. This is going to manifest as the next recession-depression leaded by commodity countries.

        – A general debt crisis as the model of increasing indebtment started in the 80’s has run its course and now comes to the realization that the debt cannot be neither paid, nor rolled, nor serviced, in the zero growth environment we are achieving. The resulting deflationary environment will bring a day of reckoning as essentially most of the world countries are unable to pay their debts. Debts can be written off, but not without another major upset to the world economy and God forgives hopefully not another global war.

        – A general monetary crisis as the folly of the central banks cannot be unwind without sending the world economy into a terminal tail spin in a debt saturated world. Sooner rather than later people will awake to the true value of currencies in a world of crashing global commerce, debt repudiation and economic malaise, and the deflation will instantly turn into a vicious inflation and run for hard assets. A new monetary system will be required once the world middle class is thoroughly destroyed.

        Each an everyone of these problems is unavoidable and will come to haunt us in due course. We are going to have plenty of entertainment as we watch CO2 emissions dwindle and climate cool. The Greens are going to be ecstatic and will claim victory in the climate wars against fossil fuel capitalism. Global thermaggedon, never a possibility, will be “avoided”, they will say, due to their efforts.

        Thankfully we, and our close descendants, will all be dead before the next glacial inception reduces mankind to a bunch of tribal recyclers, less than one tenth our present numbers.

  10. jacobress says:

    In a previous post you (Roger) showed that renewables contributed little towards reducing emissions. Why do you assume, then, that more investment in renewables is needed to attain the emission reduction goals? (Ok, this is parody, I understand).

    What this graph shows is that, maybe, sanity will prevail in the end.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      I once wrote that we are failing to address what is likely a non-existant problem. The pinnacle of human ingenuity. If it turns out to be a problem, we will never address it for so long as there is FF or timber to burn, so adaptation is the only route until we run out of FF and / or decide to build nuclear en mass.

      • jacobress says:

        “we are failing to address” – wrong. I wish it were true.
        It is worse than we thought.
        We ARE addressing the problem to the tune of some $trillions. The “pinnacle of human ingenuity” is still higher. We invent AND IMPLEMENT an useless “solution” to a non-existent problem.

    • Jacob. I’ll answer your question parody notwithstanding.

      Apart from collapsing economically the only way the EU can meet its 40% goal is by going nuclear in a big way, but with Germany, Sweden and now France planning nuclear shutdowns the trend is in the opposite direction. CCS is going nowhere, as are biogas, biofuels, hydrogen, methane etc. and also biomass, which is now revealed as a good way to increase emissions rather than cut them. Wind and solar are all there is left*, and increasing their penetration does cut emissions, or at least it does the way emissions are calculated. And I did specify a “very large” investment. 🙂

      * Except for land use changes. Look for some creative carbon accounting here.

      • robertok06 says:

        “France planning nuclear shutdowns”

        … the nuclear shutdown is not even anymore in the mind of useless Segolene Royal, minister of environment and energy.

        No way!… the next general elections will give to the center-right (more right than center, actually) the next French president… and there is no way that he will dismantle nuclear…
        France will simply install a lot of turbines, mainly off-shore (’cause nobody wants them on land)… which will simply make the cost of electricity go up a bit, but never at the ridiculous level of “green” Germany and Denmark.

      • Lars says:

        Today in a board meeting the Swedes decided to shut down 1723 megawatts (net) or about 18% of their nuclear power.

        “At the extraordinary general meeting held today in Ringhals AB, it has been decided to end operation of Ringhals 2 in 2019 and Ringhals 1 in 2020, in connection with the yearly outages.”

        • jacobress says:

          Nuclear WILL shut down, over time, as nuclear plants get old and decrepit. This cannot be avoided.
          You cannot maintain nuclear share without building new plants, and none are being built OR planned. (except Flamanville).

          • Lars says:

            Jacob, the original plan was to keep Ringhals 1 & 2 running until at least 2025. Billions of Swedish kroner have been spent the last few years on maintenance and upgrades. The reason they will in all probability be shut down prematurely is the new Swedish nuclear tax to finance welfare immigration and difficult market conditions (low wholesale prices) among others due to “new renewables”.

  11. Luís says:

    Spain, Germany, Italy and Austria have effectively prohibited investment on scalable renewable energy with hefty taxes. The 20-20-20 targets are unlikely to be met, for the simple reason that most governments in Europe do not wish so. This was clear during the election last year, when the EPP left energy policy at the criterion of each member state.

    • jacobress says:

      “for the simple reason that most governments in Europe do not wish so.” No.
      For the simple reason that it is impossible. (Doesn’t matter what governments wish).

    • Mike Parr says:

      Spain – “prohibited investment on scalable renewable energy with hefty taxes” – I guess that’s why Gas natural Fenosa has a pipeline of about 300MW of wind it is building in Spain – with no subsidy? – opened the first wind farm earlier this year. In the right place wind needs no subsidy – & you may find this marks the start of a trend.

      • A C Osborn says:

        Easy for a Renewables Consultant to say, but much harder to prove.
        Let’s see how much energy it produces for it’s investment and at what price.

  12. Luca says:

    Europe, and the rest of the world, will meet their commitments because … there will be no growth.
    I suspect many governments already know it but the climate change is the perfect excuse…

  13. Will says:

    Interesting numbers, I wonder what happens when the wind turbines in UK hit the end of their c. 20 year life? Will there be incentives to then extend operational life of wind farms with investment in new turbines or will they simply be de-commissioned?

  14. Pingback: AWED Energy & Environmental Newsletter: October 26, 2015 - Master Resource

  15. Pingback: Recent Energy And Environmental News – October 26th 2015 | PA Pundits - International

Comments are closed.