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Renewable energy on the rise in Europe, but transport still not doing its share

07/02/2020

The share of energy from renewable sources in the EU continues to rise, according to the latest figures from Eurostat, reaching 18% in 2018. But when it comes to transport, the EU is still overwhelmingly reliant on fossil energy, which covers more than 94% of the mix once the impact of artificial multipliers used to calculate renewable energy share in transport is removed.

These numbers once again underline the need for policies that urgently promote real renewables, including sustainably produced biofuels such as ethanol, to achieve the EU’s climate and energy ambitions.

The data published last month by the European Commission show that since the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive was approved in 2010 much of the increase in the share of renewables in transport has come from virtual quantities created through the use of these multipliers. For example, without the artificial double-counting applied to certain energy sources, the share of renewables in transport increased from 3.9% to 6% from 2010-2018. Even with the multipliers, the share is at 8%.

The difference between virtual renewables and real renewables can often be dramatic. For example, Finland has a share of 14.9% renewables in transport – but without multipliers the share of “real” renewables is just 9.4%.

In fact, the Eurostat figures also show that a significant number of Member States are falling short of their 2020 target for renewables in transport even with multipliers. Sweden is the only EU country to have achieved the RES-T target for 2020 already without the use of multipliers, with 24%.

To have any hope of meeting 2030 or more ambitious targets down the road Europe needs policies that promote renewable energy sources delivering real greenhouse-gas reduction such as renewable ethanol. At the moment, biofuels (including crop-based and advanced) contribute the biggest share of renewables in transport at 89%, but in EU Green Deal policymaking they don’t get enough attention.

By promoting the uptake of real renewables instead of artificially inflating the contribution of certain renewables with multipliers, the EU can do a better job of reducing reliance on fossil fuels.\