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European renewable energy usage doubles in a decade

11 Apr 2011

The share of renewable energy in the European energy mix has nearly doubled, from representing five per cent of gross inland energy consumption in 1999 to accounting for nine per cent in 2009, according to new official statistics.

The increase was not enough to put renewable energy on par with oil, which remained the main source of power in the European Union in 2009 with a 37 per cent share. Gas consumption also rose by two percentile points to 24 per cent and nuclear energy remained stable during the decade leading up to 2009.

Figures published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, show that renewable energy has grown to become the main single source of power in Latvia and Sweden. Renewable energy accounted for 36 per cent of the gross inland energy consumption in Latvia, making the Baltic north-eastern European country a leader in renewable energy in 2009. Ocean-fringed country Sweden met 34 per cent of its power consumption with renewable power, representing the second largest increase in renewable energy consumption over the decade compared with other European countries.

Renewable energy accounted for more than one quarter of Austria’s power consumption in 2009 at 27 per cent, up from 23 per cent, and more than one fifth of Finland’s power consumption at 23 per cent.

Germany, Portugal, Spain, Slovenia, Hungary, Solvakia and Denmark saw some of the largest proportional increases in renewable power consumption over the decade. Germany increased its renewable energy power consumption four-fold in this time from two per cent to eight per cent. Hungary more than doubled its renewable power consumption from three per cent to seven per cent, and Spain nearly doubled its renewable energy usage from five per cent to nine per cent.

The Middle East unrest and nuclear disaster in Japan may paint a different picture for 2011’s energy consumption results in Europe, which have not yet been released.

Recent figures showed that growth in offshore wind installation was the main driver behind 9.3GW of new wind capacity in the continent in 2010. European Wind Energy Association figures showed that wind capacity grew 51 per cent during the year to 993MW, up from 582MW in 2009.

The indications of further advances in renewable energy came in the fourth quarter of 2010, when wind power usage in the UK rose by nearly one quarter, RenewableUK statistics recently highlighted.

Eurostat has defined gross inland energy consumption as primary energy production plus power imports and excluding exports, reflecting the energy needed to satisfy inland power consumption within the limits of national territory.

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