Renewable sources of energy - wind power, solar power (thermal and photovoltaic), hydro-electric power, tidal power, geothermal energy and biomass - are an essential alternative to fossil fuels. Using these sources helps not only to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from energy generation and consumption but also to reduce the European Union's (EU) dependence on imports of fossil fuels (in particular oil and gas).
In order to reach the ambitious target of a 20% share of energy from renewable sources in the overall energy mix, the EU now focuses its efforts on electricity, heating and cooling and on renewable energy for transport (including bio fuels). In transport, which is almost exclusively dependent on oil, the new Directive has replaced the old target of a 5.75% share of bio fuels in overall fuel consumption by 2010 with a 10% share of renewable energy in transport by 2020.
Europe is at the forefront of renewable energy development world-wide and has significant experience in the formulation of proactive policy measures in this area. Renewable energy sources make a major contribution to sustainable development and - through using locally available resources - to security of energy supply. Renewable energy deployment is part of the answer to solving many economic and environmental problems by contributing to secure jobs and income, avoiding environmental damage and therefore providing a valid means to fight climate change. From the market point of view, the European renewable energy industry has a leading position in the world and is one of Europe's fastest growing sectors.