FEATURES » Italy leads Europe in renewable energy

Italy leads Europe in renewable energy

Italy is leader in Europe when it comes to renewable energy and solar power in particular. Every town in Italy can boast at least one source of renewable energy.

According to data published by Eurostat, the EU's statistical office over 17 percent of Italian energy comes from renewable sources. This proportion places Italy 13th out of the 28 member states. By the end of 2015 Italy was already ahead of its target for 2020. Together with Italy also Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Hungary, Romania, Finland, and Sweden have already reached their targets.

The European countries have been given different targets depending on factors such as population and natural resources. Even if the UK and Luxembourg have lower targets than countries like Italy, they were among the countries further off from reaching their 2020 targets. The furthest off was the Netherlands, followed by France, Ireland, the UK, and Luxembourg.

The State of the Energy Union report shows that Europe is well on the way to achieving its 2020 target of 20% renewable energy. The EU 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy also sets a further binding target that at least 27% of the energy used in the EU by 2030 should be renewable. 

The renewable energy sector plays a key role in the EU economy, with a turnover of around €144bn in 2014 and more than one million people employed. A number of renewable technologies have now become cost-competitive, and can in some cases be even cheaper than fossil fuels.

Increasing renewable use will therefore help the EU meet the commitment it made, at the 2016 Climate Change Conference in Paris, to contribute to limiting the global rise in temperature to only 1.5°. Renewables also play a major role in making the EU a global leader in innovation: EU countries hold globally 30% of the patents in renewables.

Almost 90% of new power in Europe came from renewable sources in 2016. Wind energy overtakes coal as the EU’s second largest form of power capacity. 

Despite Europe’s installed wind power capacity now standing at 153.7GW, it is still a relatively small fraction of the region’s 918.8GW of total power capacity. The industry is hoping much of its growth will come from filling the gap as governments force old coal power plants to close to meet climate change goals.

Germany, which already has three times as much wind power as any other EU country, installed 44% of Europe’s new wind capacity last year.

Giulia Lombardo

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