Europe Could Pass Green Energy TargetLeigh Phillips
The European Union is to surpass its target of 20 percent consumption of energy from renewable sources by 2020, according to national forecasts submitted to the European Commission.
The EU executive found that overall, the bloc will achieve a 20.3 percent share of renewables in its energy mix.
According to a summary published on Thursday, 10 out of the EU's 27 member states are on track to exceed their national targets for renewable energy, with a further 12 set to meet their goals using domestic sources of renewable energy.
However, five member states, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg and Malta, will have to source their renewable energy from outside their countries.
Europe's renewable energy directive sets an overall EU target of 20 percent and individual binding national targets. The bloc defines biofuels, biomass, wind, solar energy as well as hydro power as being renewable.
In 2007, the most recent year for which there is data available, the renewable share was nine percent, with approximately 63 percent of this coming from biomass and biowaste.
Energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger used the occasion of the release of the figures to challenge member states to go yet further.
"Our task will be to help all member states not only to reach the 20 percent target but to go beyond."
Green groups gave a cautious welcome to the numbers.
Frauke Thies, Greenpeace Europe's energy campaigner, told EUobserver: "Overall, the actions are really encouraging."
"However, Italy seems to rely on lots of imports, so they are failing to realise the development of renewable energy at home," she said, adding: "There may also be some problems coming from the countries where Italy is looking for imports. Some of these involve hydro projects with questionable environmental impacts."
Additionally, Slovakia appears to be focusing mostly on the heating sector, she said, "a move that definitely needs to happen, but it will be a lost opportunity if they do not take a look at the electricity sector."
Across the board, Ms Thies said that it is unclear whether biomass-based energy is being sustainably sourced, as the documents do not provide enough information at this point to make an assessment.