The European Union
headquarters in
Frankfurt, Germany — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 11 March 2011 – The European Union (EU) currently receives more than 50% of its energy from outside the region, and that percentage is set to rise.

One of the best developments on the European energy market, therefore, was the astonishing uptake of renewable energy over the last 10 to 15 years. Countries like Spain, Germany and Denmark spearheaded the massive increase of wind, biomass and solar energy with feed-in tariff policies that provided investment security and triggered almost a million new jobs. New renewable energy sources increased from almost zero in 1995 to more than 10% of the total electricity share in Europe today.

By 2008, 77% of all new European renewable energy systems installed after 1997 had been deployed in countries using feed-in tariffs. In the case of wind energy the share was as high as 85% and in the case of solar PV it approached 100%.

On a worldwide scale, the picture does not look much different. In 2009, more than 86% of the newly installed solar PV capacity was deployed in feed-in tariff countries, according to DB Climate Change Advisors’ GET FiT Program: Global Energy Transfer Feed-in Tariffs for developing countries.

Most of the other EU Member states benefited from lessons learned in these countries and set up similar policies in their own jurisdictions. Only a small minority of member states, Poland and Sweden for example, still stayed with the rather antiquated quota model, which has proved to be less efficient than feed-in tariffs. Poland and Sweden therefore haven’t benefited from this global renewable energy development.

Thanks to the early success of countries with good feed-in tariffs, the European Union has set the ambitious 20/20/20 target for the development of renewable energy: 20% greenhouse gas emission reduction and a 20% share of renewable energy sources in final energy consumption by 2020.

And recently the EU adopted a renewable energy directive for the years 2010 to 2020. Member States are just beginning to translate the European framework directive into national law. Therefore various members of the European Parliament are calling for rather radical steps: “More than 70% of all investments in supply in the next ten years must be in renewable schemes in order to reach the binding targets,” said MEP Claude Turmes, vice-chair of the Greens group in the European Parliament.