Renewables replace fossil fuels as the EU’s primary energy source by 2021

Nearly two years after the launch of the European Green Deal, the Commission adopted its State of the Energy Union Reports for 2021, taking stock of the EU’s progress in implementing the clean energy transition. While there are some hopeful patterns, more work will be needed to meet the 2030 objective of decreasing net emissions by at least 55 percent and attaining climate neutrality by 2050, and the data will need to be carefully examined next year for longer-term post-COVID trends.

Renewables surpassed fossil fuels as the top power source in the EU for the first time in 2020, providing 38 percent of energy compared to 37 percent for fossil fuels, according to the research. Currently, 9 EU Member States have phased out coal, 13 have committed to a phase-out date, and four are exploring deadlines. In 2020, EU27 greenhouse gas emissions declined by about 10% compared to 2019, an exceptional drop in emissions owing to the COVID-19 epidemic, bringing overall emission reductions to 31% since 1990.

Last year, primary energy consumption fell by 1.9 percent, while final energy consumption fell by 0.6 percent. Both percentages, however, remain above the trajectory necessary to fulfill the EU’s 2020 and 2030 objectives, and efforts at the Member State and EU levels must continue to address this issue. Subsidies for fossil fuels decreased marginally in 2020, owing to decreasing total energy usage. Subsidies for renewable energy and energy efficiency both rose in 2020.

This year’s study is also being released against a backdrop of rising energy prices in Europe and throughout the world, owing mostly to rising gas prices. While this is only likely to be a temporary scenario, it highlights the EU’s rising reliance on energy imports, which has reached its highest level in 30 years, as well as the significance of a clean energy transition to improve the EU’s energy security. According to the most recent data, energy poverty affects up to 31 million people in the EU, and this problem will continue to be a hot topic in light of COVID-19’s economic issues and the present price scenario. That is why, in its latest Energy Prices Communication, the Commission placed a significant emphasis on protecting vulnerable customers.

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The State of the Energy Union Report examines how the COVID-19 epidemic has influenced energy and climate policy over the previous year, as well as the significant legislative progress made in the EU’s decarbonisation initiatives. It also mentions the political initiatives to guarantee that our post-COVID recovery plans include more than ever our climate and energy goals.




The State of the Energy Union Report examines the Energy Union’s five pillars: accelerating decarbonisation, with the EU Emission Trading System (ETS) and renewables at its core; increasing energy efficiency; improving energy security and safety; strengthening the internal market; and research, innovation, and competitiveness. It also recommends places where the European Green Deal should be prioritized in the future. The primary report is accompanied by five interrelated reports.

Annex on Energy Subsidies in the EU: Fossil fuel subsidies fell in 2020, owing primarily to lower energy demand as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic; however, additional efforts are needed to ensure that fossil fuel subsidies continue to fall in the EU in the future, avoiding a rebound in subsidies as the economy recovers and energy demand rises.

The clean energy ecosystem, from research and development through implementation, is assessed in terms of its competitiveness. On the basis of important competitiveness indicators, it evaluates progress. While the EU remains at the forefront of renewable energy research, the study demonstrates that more work is needed to enhance R&I spending and close the gap between innovation and market demand.

The Climate Action Progress Report: “Speeding up European climate action towards a green, fair, and prosperous future” summarizes the EU’s and Member States’ progress toward achieving their greenhouse gas emission reduction objectives, as well as recent changes in EU climate policy. The report is based on data provided by Member States as part of the EU Regulation on Energy Union Governance and Climate Action.

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The Carbon Market Report details changes in the European carbon market’s operation, including auction implementation, free allocation, verified emissions, supply and demand balance, market monitoring, and EU ETS infrastructure and compliance.

The Fuel Quality Report details progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from road transport fuels, as well as the quality and composition of fuels provided throughout the EU. The position as reported by Member States under Articles 7a and 8(3) of the Fuel Quality Directive is summarized in this report.

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