Heating and cooling from renewables gradually increasing in EU

February 3, 2023

Energy for heating and cooling represents almost 50 % of the EU’s total gross final energy consumption. In absolute terms, the gross final consumption of renewable energy for heating and cooling purposes in the EU has gradually increased over time (mostly due to the contribution of biomass and heat pumps).

However, for 2021, gross consumption of all fuels also increased mainly due to economic recovery after lifting COVID-19 restrictions. As a result, the share of renewable energy in gross final consumption for heating and cooling purposes decreased by 0.1 percentage points (pp), from 23.0 % in 2020 to 22.9 % in 2021. This is almost double the value in 2004 (11.7 %). Developments in the industrial sector, services and households (including the electrification of heating by using heat pumps) contributed to the growth of renewable energy in heating and cooling.

Among the EU Member States, Sweden stood out with more than two-thirds (68.6 %) of the energy used for heating and cooling in 2021 stemming from renewable sources (mostly biomass and heat pumps), followed by Estonia (61.3 %), Latvia (57.4 %) and Finland (52.6 %), all of them using a large share of biomass.

In contrast, the lowest shares of renewable sources for heating and cooling were recorded in Ireland (5.2 %), the Netherlands (7.7 %) and Belgium (9.2 %).

All EU Member States reported an increase from 2004 to 2021. The highest increases were recorded in Cyprus (+32.1 percentage points; pp), followed by Malta (+30.3 pp), Estonia (+28.0 pp) and Sweden (+22.7 pp). Smaller increases were recorded in Ireland (+2.3 pp), Belgium (+6.3 pp) and the Netherlands (+5.5 pp).

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Methodological notes:

  • Renewable energy sources used for heating and cooling include solar thermal, geothermal energy, ambient heat captured by heat pumps for heating (and from 2021 onwards, renewable cooling, as per RED II), solid, liquid and gaseous biofuels, and the renewable part of waste. Only heat produced from compliant liquid biofuels can be accounted for. From 2021 onwards (as per RED II), solid and gaseous biofuels combusted in installations above a certain threshold need to comply with sustainability and greenhouse gas emissions saving criteria.
  • Data until 2020 are calculated on the basis of Directive 2009/28/EC (RED I), while data for 2021 follow DIRECTIVE (EU) 2018/2001 of 11 December 2018 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources (RED II). Due to the change in legal basis, a break in series occurs between 2020 and 2021. Readers are encouraged to analyse the differences between both Directives (RED I and RED II) as described in the point above, the energy sector, and all national specificities before drawing any conclusions by comparing 2021 with previous time series. The SHARES Manual provides details on the methodology used for the calculation of the share of renewables.