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Renewable Energy Across the Globe: Europe

Great steps have been made across the globe toward adopting more environmentally conscious energy sources. How each continent makes use of their varied resources is what sets them apart from each other.
Here’s what’s happening in Europe:

The shining star of renewable resource reliance in Europe currently is Iceland, where nearly 100% of the country’s electricity is produced from hydroelectric and geothermal sources. As of 2013, wind energy has become a part of this mix.

By 2012, 17.2 GW of solar PV capacity was installed in Europe, predominantly in Italy (5,225 MW), Germany (4,500 MW) and Spain (3,775 MW). This number is expected to rise to over 100 GW by 2020. Denmark reached their 2020 goal of 200 MW installed capacity by 2012 and therefore raised their 2020 goal to 1,000 MW.

By 2011 almost 94 GW of wind power capacity had been installed in the European Union, or enough to provide for over 6% of the EU’s electricity demand. This is expected to increase to 230 GW by 2020 (190 GW onshore and 40 GW offshore). Germany alone had 29 GW of wind power capacity installed, which produces enough to supply 8% of Germany’s total electricity demand. Greece planned to have over 2,500 turbines installed by the end of 2010. Spain generates over 16% of its electricity with wind power, while wind power accounts for 20% of the Danish domestic electricity supply. Denmark is also home to the world’s largest wind turbine industry. The UK has over 2.5 GW of installed wind power capacity, ranking it as 8th in the world for producer of wind power. This number is expected to exceed 2.8 GW by 2020.  Ireland has some of the best wind resources in Europe due to high winds off the ocean on its western coastline, and over 1 GW of installed wind power. There are plans to expand an existing offshore wind farm as well as construction of two new parks, one with a capacity of 1,100 MW. Estonia has a further 300 MW installed wind power capacity and plans to install more than 1,000 MW worth of new wind power, both offshore and on. Portugal currently has a little over 2 MW of installed capacity, with plans to increase this to 21 MW. Lithuania planned to install 200 MW worth of turbines by 2010.

Portugal is home to the world’s first commercial wave farm. Scotland plans to follow suit with a 3 MW wave farm off the coast of Orkney at the European Marine Test Centre.

By 2010, Italy had over 800 MW of geothermal capacity installed, which represents 1.5% of the nation’s electrical production and 8% of global geothermal production. Italy is followed closely by Iceland with almost 600 MW installed capacity, representing 30% and 5% of national electricity and global geothermal production, respectively.

Europe’s largest biomass refinery is a bioethanol plant located in Britain. The plant is capable of producing over 100 million gallons of bioethanol and almost 400,000 tons of animal feed.


Want to know what’s happening in the other continents? Check below:

Africa – lots of untapped potential
Antartcica – yes, even in Antarctica
Asia – find out how Japan is doing in response to the Fukushima nuclear accident and where the rest of Asia is at renewable energy
Australia – hydroelectricity accounts for almost 60% of their renewable energy
Europe – guess which country has the first commercial wave farm
North America – who is the world’s largest wind producer, Canada, Mexico or the United States?
South America – find out why it is the leader in electricity from renewable sources.


Kathryn Hannis

Kathryn spent the first half of her life in Phoenix, Arizona, in the United States. Then, just as she was about to begin her freshman year in high school, her family uprooted and transplanted to The Hague, the Netherlands, Europe. Kathryn studied Environmental Engineering at NAU, in Flagstaff, Arizona, and then later moved back to the Netherlands to get a Master’s degree in Sustainable Energy Technology.

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