The EU needs to take significant action to generate more electricity from wind and solar power and meet its targets on renewables, according to a new report by the European Court of Auditors. Although both wind and solar power have recorded strong growth since 2005, there has been a slowdown since 2014, say the auditors. The Commission should urge Member States to support further deployment – by organising auctions to allocate additional renewables capacity, promoting citizen participation and improving conditions for deployment. At the same time, the auditors warn that half of the Member States will face a significant challenge in trying to meet their 2020 renewables targets.
The EU aims to generate a fifth of its energy from renewables for electricity, heating and cooling and transport use by the end of 2020. Indeed, between 2005 and 2017, the generation of electricity from renewables in the EU doubled from around 15 % to almost 31 %. The wind and solar photovoltaic power sectors currently make up the largest share of renewable electricity, and falling costs make them an increasingly competitive alternative to burning fossil fuels.
The auditors assessed the progress made by the EU and Member States towards the renewables targets. They went to Germany, Greece, Spain and Poland to examine whether financial support for electricity generation from wind and solar power had been effective.
The auditors found that initial support schemes had been over-subsidised in a number of cases, resulting in higher electricity prices or increased state deficits. After 2014, when Member States eventually reduced support to lighten the burden on consumers and national budgets, investor confidence was dampened and the market slowed down.
“Member States incentivised investment in wind and solar power, but the way they reduced support deterred potential investors and slowed deployment,” said George Pufan, the Member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the report. “The slowdown in shifting towards renewable electricity implies that we might not meet the EU 2020 target.”