Renewable Energy in Europe
Renewable Energy Resources
According to the latest Eurostat Statistics (Eurostat 2009 Yearbook, figure 13.1), biomass, including waste to energy projects, leads the European Union's (EU) drive for increased renewable energy.
The 68.5% of biomass energy produced dwarfs the next largest renewable energy source, hydropower. Wind (5.5%) and geothermal (4.4%) energy production lag behind the leaders. Solar energy production (.8%) provides the least amount of renewable energy production.
Overall, renewable energy accounted for 14.7% of total energy production. Because the table takes into account some imported energy, the percentage may be a bit high. Europe's Energy Portal for example, places the EU renewable energy contribution to total energy at the 9.2% mark.
It also shows slightly different 2006 renewable energy production percentages a bit differently.
- Biomass 65.6%
- Hydro 22.9%
- Wind 5.50%
- Geothermal 5.2%
- Solar .8%
Because both sets of statistics come without additional methodological notes, sorting out the differences is a bit problematic.
Statistical methodology aside, the strong showing for biomass reflects the deliberate EU policy to promote complimentary waste reduction and energy creation policies by promoting waste to energy plants. It also reflects a nascent bio-fuels program, including an increase in biofuel cogeneration.
Also, depending on how the statistics are read, the EU may or may not be on target to achieve its stated 20% renewable energy goal by 2020.
In comparison, the second chart shows renewable energy consumption in the United States during 2006. The two sets of statistics are not completely similar, because the European statistics show production based on tonnes of oil equivalent. The U.S. statistics are a measure of Btu consumption. The comparison, broken down into a more comparable percentage of renewable energy type in relationship to the renewable energy whole, also assumes renewable energy production and consumption in the U.S. and EU mirror each other, i.e., total production equals total consumption.
While biomass (48.6%), including bio-fuels, waste to energy and wood derived fuels, account for largest share of U.S. renewable energy consumption, hydropower (41.5%) runs a close second, due largely to large scale hydropower in the Western United States.
Like the EU, wind energy consumption (3.8%) and geothermal energy consumption (5%) are second tier renewable energy sources. Again, solar power brings up the rear, accounting for one per cent of total energy consumption.
Overall, the United States lags behind the EU, with renewable energy production accounting for approximately 7% of total energy production.
© 2010 Patricia A. Michaels.