EU-28: an increasing fossil fuel dependency

2015 was a year of great commitment to renewables worldwide. Renewables were at the top of highprofile policy agendas throughout the year that culminated with the agreement at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris. In wake of the Paris Agreement, governments have announced their support to foster the development of renewable energy and adopt energy efficiency measures. While these initiatives show signs that a global energy transition is underway, the enthusiasm generated by the COP21 agreement should not overshadow the current situation on the European energy front.

When looking at the current energy scheme, one is still faced with the grim reality that the EU remains highly dependent on imported fossil fuels to meet its energy needs. In 2014, the average EU-28 energy dependency was 53,4%, a share that has been steadily increasing over the last two decades. Oil represented the highest import dependency (87,4%), followed by natural gas (67,2%) and solid fossil fuels such as coal (45,6%).


The EU-28 ranks among the regions with the highest energy dependency with countries such as Japan (94%), South Korea (85%) and Turkey (73%). China and the United States, in comparison, are far below Europe with an energy dependency under 20%.


Renewables have the ability to secure the EU-28’s future energy mix. In the specific case of biomass, imports represent only 4,4% of total European bioenergy consumption. The remaining 95,6% contributes directly to the development of local economies, especially in rural areas where most biomass is harvested and transformed.

In 2014, renewable energies accounted for almost 16% of total EU energy consumption; however, this upward trend should not be taken for granted. In 2007, Europe was a front-runner in the renewable energy transition with its ambitious target to use 20% renewables by 2020. When European Commission President Juncker took office in 2014, he announced one key priority was to make the EU the world leader in renewable energies. So far, regarding production or consumption of renewables, the EU-28 remains behind countries like Brazil, India, Indonesia and Japan.


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