The EEA’s report suggests that the EU is broadly on track to achieve its goals of 20% emissions cuts and 20% renewable energy share by 2020.
But a more challenging target for 2050 – of reducing emissions by at least 80% – will require acceleration after 2030, when tough decisions about phasing out internal combustion engines and oil supplies will have to be taken.
James Watson, the chief executive of SolarPower Europe, which represents Europe’s solar photovoltaic industry, said that today’s figures were in line with a 50GW spike in global solar capacity last year.
“This is a good start and we must be positive about that but if we are truly to meet our obligations under the Paris agreement, we will need to see a much faster growth of renewables and a commensurate, much faster reduction of fossil fuels, and coal power in particular,” he said.
Renewables have replaced 100m tonnes of oil equivalent electricity generation this decade, but will only need to replace 20m tonnes in the 10 years ahead, according to SolarPower Europe’s analysis.
Tomescu noted that Europe’s growth in renewable energy was already coinciding with a drop in fossil fuel consumption. “In broad terms, we are talking about a substitution and this has an impact not only on import dependency but also avoided greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.
Renewables cut Europe’s carbon emissions by 10% in 2015, says EEA