EU Renewable Electricity Rises Above 23 Percent But Employment, Investment Falters

eurobserver2013graphRenewable energy accounted for 14 percent of gross final energy consumption across the European Union (EU), up from 12.9 percent in 2011, while renewables’ share of gross electricity consumption rose from 20.4 percent to 23.4 percent, according to the 2013 edition of EurObservER’s “The State of Renewable Energies in Europe.”

Renewable energy employment, economic activity and investment indicators didn’t fare as well, however, reflective of ongoing fiscal and economic problems that have caused EU renewable energy leading nations to cut back on subsidies and incentives, or eliminate them completely.

EU renewable energy sector feels the pinch

According to EurObserv’ER’s latest report, the number of people employed in the renewable energy sector totaled 1.22 million euros in 2012, down from 1.27 million in 2011. Renewable energy-based economic activity dropped from 141 billion euros to to 130 billion.

EU renewable energy investment indicators – incorporated in EurObserv’ER’s report series for the first time – also showed declines. Renewable energy asset finance dropped 39 percent year-over-year to 22 billion euros in 2012 from 36 billion in 2011.

Venture capital and private equity totaled 2.1 billion euros, down 31 percent from 3 billion the year before. Renewable energy stock market indices fell between 35 percent and 63 percent in the 2011-2012 period.

On a positive note, EurObserv’ER estimated EU renewable electricity production at 763.5 terawatt-hours (TWh), a share of 23.4 percent, which seen over a longer term perspective demonstrates just how much can be accomplished in a short amount of time — given the right mix of governance policies, rules, subsidies and market-based mechanisms.

EurObserv’ER’s Barometer report series on renewable energy covers 10 renewable energy sectors (wind, solid biomass, solar PV, biofuels, heat pumps, biogas, solar thermal, small hydropower, waste and geothermal power) individually and in the aggregate across the entire EU.


Pie chart credit: EurObserv’ER

Graph credit: Eurostat

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