EU must double the pace of wind and solar rollout for 1.5C

  • Brussels

  • 27 July 2022

New analysis from think tank Ember shows that by 2026, annual EU wind and solar deployments are forecast to deliver only half of what is needed for limiting global heating to 1.5C. 

For a pathway that ensures Europe’s energy security and delivers on climate commitments, annual EU wind and solar additions will need to increase from last year’s 34 GW to 76 GW in 2026. However, forecasts show a much slower pace, with EU countries on track to be deploying only 38 GW per year by that date.

Europe no longer lacks renewables ambition, but it is now facing an implementation gap. Higher targets have not yet translated into accelerated deployment on the ground. Europe needs to urgently buckle down on removing permitting barriers to unleash the full potential of renewables.

Harriet Fox Energy & Climate Data Analyst, Ember

In response to Russia’s war in Ukraine and the sky-high cost of fossil gas, the EU has raised ambition on phasing out fossil fuels for electricity. The REPowerEU plan now targets 69% renewable electricity by 2030, moving the EU’s wind and solar targets broadly in line with 1.5C compatible pathways. However, new analysis of on-the-ground deployment shows that wind and solar are set to fall behind the pace needed for these adequately ambitious pathways.

Ember’s analysis reveals that only four out of 27 EU countries (Finland, Croatia, Lithuania and Sweden) are on track to achieve sufficiently high annual wind capacity increases. Despite their wind power potential, France, Spain and the Netherlands are likely to flatline or see decreasing installation rates to 2026. 

EU solar capacity has seen exponential growth, rising from 104 GW to 162 GW in the last three years. This rate must continue for solar capacity to meet the necessary level by 2030. Forecasts, however, indicate growth falling behind and key countries lagging. Italy is predicted to install only a third of the yearly required capacity between 2022 and 2026. 

Permitting is a key challenge to delivering on renewables ambition. The analysis finds that obtaining permits for a wind project can take up to 120 months, five times longer than the EU’s binding limit of 24 months. None of the countries analysed came in below that limit.

There’s much more room for wind and solar to bring down energy bills, boost energy security and cut emissions. If the EU can pass and enforce measures in the Renewable Energy Directive and REPowerEU, EU countries will see the payoff many times over.

Pawel Czyzak Senior Energy & Climate Data Analyst, Ember