Across Europe, the renewables sector increased market share in 2011, with ‘bold local initiatives’cited as a leading factor in the sector’s growth.

According to a new report released by EurObserv’ER , the renewables sector now has a 13.4% market share, employs 1.19 million people and accounts for a turnover of EUR 137 billion. The European Union is already well on its way towards achieving the 20% share of renewable energy in final energy consumption set in the 2009 Directive, with the increase in European Union renewable energy investments uninterrupted since 2004.

Success stories from the regions include Uckermark and Barnim, two administrative districts between the Berlin metropolitan area and the Polish border. Both districts deal with disproportionately high levels of unemployment (Barnim: 17.1%, Uckermark: 24.7%) and are facing serious demographic challenges as the number of inhabitants in 2020 is expected to drop heavily due to economic migration. In Uckermark, ambitious regional targets have resulted in the district becoming a 100% RES region and a surplus producer, identifying 100% renewable heat supply as their next goal.

In contrast Silesia is a densely populated region in the south of Poland, traditionally associated with the coal industry and power production. Decisive policy push factors include the work of pioneering municipalities such as Bielsko-Biala which joined the Energy Cities in 1997 and the Covenant of Mayors in 2009; not only providing local subsidies but also organizing educational programs for all strata of society.

Cleverly, Silesia used its infrastructural base to increase RES share. Human capital (highly qualified staff in the metallurgy sector) was used to develop the largest RES manufacturing base in Poland. The region experienced a solar thermal collector boom with 45 000m2 in 2011 and 1.9 Mm2 planned to 2020. Silesia shows how traditional, heavy industry and ‘black’energy producers can be treated as partners. Investors in Silesia value incentives based on the regional endogenous potential: the existing infrastructural base as well as its highly qualified human capital.

On the national level, Romania is emerging as a vital player in the European wind scene with a particularly spectacular build-up of capacity. The country, which only had one single 18-MW wind farm in 2009, had 982 MW of installed capacity in 2011. Wind energy development was made possible by the Romanian government’s decision to double the number of green certificates for producing wind power until 2017. Market analysts Ernst and Young rank Romania amongst the 10 most attractive wind energy markets in the world.

In Italy, photovoltaic capacity installed during 2011 finally came to 9303 MWp – four times more than in 2010. Nationally, solar power production increased more than five-fold in a single year.

According to Remi Chatbrillat, Director, Sustainable Production and Energies at ADEME, by 2030, renewable energies could account for 34% of France’s final energy consumption.

The renewable sectors increased their relative share to 13.4% in 2011 compared to 12.5% in 2010 – a significant gain in the context of falling energy consumption combined with the drop in wood fuel consumption resulting from an exceptionally mild winter.

For the full report, click here

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