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A new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has found that the European Union (EU) can increase the share of renewable energy in its energy mix to 34% by 2030.

Presenting the findings during a launch event in Brussels, ‘Renewable Energy Prospects for the European Union’ – developed at the request of the European Commission – IRENA’s Director-General, Adnan Z. Amin highlighted that achieving higher shares of renewable energy is possible with today’s technology, and would trigger additional investments of around €368 billion ($454 billion) until 2030.

That is equivalent to an average annual contribution of 0.3% of the GDP of the EU. The number of people employed in the sector across the EU – currently 1.2 million – would grow significantly under a revised strategy, argues the report.

Raising the share of renewable energy would help reduce emissions by a further 15% by 2030 – an amount equivalent to Italy’s total emissions. These reductions would bring the EU in line with its goal to reduce emissions by 40% compared to 1990 levels, and set it on a positive pathway towards longer-term decarbonisation.

The increase would result in savings of between €44 billion ($54 billion) and €113 billion ($139 billion) per year by 2030, when accounting for savings related to the cost of energy and avoided environmental and health costs.

“For decades now, through ambitious long-term targets and strong policy measures, Europe has been at the forefront of global renewable energy deployment,” said Amin.

“With an ambitious and achievable new renewable energy strategy, the EU can deliver market certainty to investors and developers, strengthen economic activity, grow jobs, improve health and put the EU on a stronger decarbonisation pathway in line with its climate objectives.”

Cost-effective renewable energy potential

Welcoming the timeliness of the report, Miguel Arias Cañete, European Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action said: “The report confirms our own assessments that the costs of renewables have come down significantly in the last couple of years, and that we need to consider these new realities in our ambition levels for the upcoming negotiations to finalise Europe’s renewable energy policies.”

The report highlights that all EU Member States have additional cost-effective renewable energy potential, noting that renewable heating and cooling options account for more than one-third of the EU’s additional renewables potential.

Furthermore, all renewable transport options will be needed to realise EU’s long-term decarbonisation objectives.

Download the full report, here.

African Utility Week