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The unrecognized contribution of renewable energy to Europe's energy savings target

: Harmsen, R.; Wesselink, B.; Eichhammer, W.; Worrell, E.


Energy policy 39 (2011), Nr.6, S.3425-3433
ISSN: 0301-4215
Fraunhofer ISI ()
renewable energy statistics; energy saving; policy interaction

We show that renewable energy contributes to Europe's 2020 primary energy savings target. This contribution, which is to a large extent still unknown and not recognized by policy makers, results from the way renewable energy is dealt with in Europe's energy statistics. We discuss the policy consequences and argue that the "energy savings" occurring from the accounting of renewable energy should not distract attention from demand-side energy savings in sectors such as transport, industry and the built environment. The consequence of such a distraction could be that many of the benefits from demand-side energy savings, for example lower energy bills, increase of the renewable energy share in energy consumption without investing in new renewable capacity, and long-term climate targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 80%, will be missed. Such distraction is not hypothetical since Europe's 2020 renewable energy target is binding whereas the 2020 primary energy savings target is only indicative.