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The UK lags behind EU counterparts to achieve 20% renewable energy target

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While some countries have almost hit their targets the UK still has a long way to achieve its 15% renewable energy target by 2020. The EU is more than halfway to reaching its 20% target of generating energy from renewables by 2020, according to new figures published today by Eurostat.

The EU's 2009 directive on renewable energy set individual targets for all 27 member states, with a goal for the EU of reaching a 20% share of total energy consumption from renewable energy sources by 2020. Renewable energy targets take into consideration member states' different starting points, renewable energy potential and economic performance.

Renewable energy consumption rose 0.6% in the EU in 2008 to 10.3%, compared with 9.7% in 2007 and 8.8% in 2006. Of the EU's three biggest economies, France boasted the highest share at 11% of gross final energy consumption generated by renewable energy sources, followed by Germany's 8.9% and the UK's 2.2%.

This means that the UK is continuing to holdup behind its European counterparts and still needs to boost renewable energy consumption by almost 13% points before reaching its 15% renewable energy target. While, France and Germany need to boost their share of renewable energy consumption by 12% and 9.9% points respectively to reach their targets of 23% and 18%.

Closest to achieving their renewable energy targets for share of renewable energy were Romania, followed by Sweden, with rises of 3.6% and 4.6% points needed to reach their respective renewable targets of 24% and 49% in 2020.

The EU has indicated that it might raise its 2020 renewable energy target to 30% in order to boost global climate negotiations, should other major economies such as the US, China and India agree to binding carbon emissions reduction targets.

According to Eurostat, renewable energy sources cover solar, thermal and photovoltaic energy, hydro - including tide, wave and ocean - energy, wind, geothermal energy and biomass - including biological waste and liquid biofuels. The contribution of renewable energy from heat pumps is also covered for the member states for which this information was available.

The energy delivered to final consumers – industry, transport, households, services, and so on – from these renewable energies is the nominator of the target. The highest share of renewable energy in total consumption in 2008 was found in Sweden (44.4% of renewable energy sources in total consumption), Finland (30.5%), Latvia (29.9%), Austria (28.5%) and Portugal (23.2%), and the lowest in Malta (0.2%), Luxembourg (2.1%), the UK (2.2%), the Netherlands (3.2%) and Belgium (3.3%).

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