State of the Energy Union 2021: Renewables overtake fossil fuels as the EU's main power source
The Commission yesterday adopted its State of the Energy Union Reports for 2021, taking stock of the progress that the EU is making in delivering the clean energy transition, nearly two years after the launch of the European Green Deal. While there are a number of encouraging trends, greater efforts will be required to reach the 2030 goal of cutting net emissions by at least 55% and achieving climate neutrality by 2050, and the data will need to be analysed carefully next year for more long-term post-COVID trends.
The report shows that renewables overtook fossil fuels as the number one power source in the EU for the first time in 2020, generating 38% of electricity, compared to 37% for fossil fuels. To date, 9 EU Member States have already phased out coal, 13 others have committed to a phase-out date, and 4 are considering possible timelines. Compared to 2019, EU27 greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 fell by almost 10%, an unprecedented drop in emissions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought overall emission reductions to 31%, compared to 1990.
Primary energy consumption declined by 1.9% and final energy consumption by 0.6% last year. However, both figures are above the trajectory required to meet the EU's 2020 and 2030 targets, and efforts need to continue to address this issue at Member State and EU level. Fossil fuel subsidies dropped slightly in 2020, due to lower energy consumption overall. Renewable energy and energy efficiency subsidies both increased in 2020.
This year's report is also published against the backdrop of an energy price spike across Europe, and around the world, driven largely by increasing gas prices. While this situation is expected to be temporary, it puts into focus the EU's dependence on energy imports, which has increased to the highest level in 30 years, and the importance of the clean energy transition to increase the EU's energy security. Energy poverty affects up to 31 million people in the EU according to the latest data, and this issue will remain in sharp focus in light of the economic challenges of COVID-19, and the current price situation. It is why the Commission has put a strong focus on shielding vulnerable consumers in its recent Energy Prices Communication.
The State of the Energy Union Report analyses how energy and climate policies have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in the past year, and it presents the substantial legislative progress in pursuing the EU's decarbonisation efforts. It also notes the political efforts to ensure that our post-COVID recovery programmes embrace our climate and energy objectives more than ever.
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