ENDS Europe publishes special report on renewable energy

Renewable energy production in Europe is set to advance at break-neck speed but faces significant obstacles, according to ground-breaking analysis by ENDS Europe.

The special report is one of the first detailed analyses of national renewable energy action plans required under the 2009 renewable energy directive. ENDS Europe was able to review plans for 22 out of the 27 member states.

The plans show that the 22 countries assessed are planning to boost renewable energy capacity by more than 200,000 megawatts over the next ten years.

But renewable energy growth must overcome major hurdles such as sourcing funding, winning social acceptance and securing adequate connections to the electricity grid.

Wind power will continue on its fast growing path to become by far the largest source of renewable energy in Europe in 2020. The 22 member states will add nearly 125,000MW to current capacity over the next decade.

The UK has ambitious plans for new offshore capacity, which should grow by 11,600MW in 2010-20. But boosting this relatively new technology by such a large amount requires huge funding, potentially in the region of €40-50bn.

Solar power is due to witness large growth too, rising by more than 35,000MW over the next decade in Germany alone. Photovoltaic power is very expensive and could attract a ten-year price tag in excess of €150bn for Germany. Other countries with plans to boost solar power generation, although to much lower levels, include France, Greece, Italy and Spain.

Biomass will be the largest source of renewable energy in the heating and cooling sector, and biodiesel the main source of renewable fuels.

The heating and cooling sector sees the most divergent targets among member states. Those with existing well-developed infrastructure are planning to grow it even further, while those with no tradition of heating and cooling are aiming low.

Ambition for renewables in transport is underwhelming, with all countries hovering around the EU’s 10% target. Generally, the action plans contain few details on biofuels policy.

The national renewable energy action plans were due to be submitted to the European Commission by 30 June 2010 and outline how EU countries intend to achieve their goals under the 2009 renewable energy directive.