The EU executive's update on its energy trends to 2030 report, published without any public announcement, projects that renewable electricity will account for 64% of new electricity generation capacity installed over the next decade up to 2020. Gas will make up 7%, coal 12%, nuclear 4% and oil 3%.
The new figures take into account the dramatic change in the economic context since the last 2007 scenario, as energy-intensive industries have had to deal with production drops while new legislation has been passed to encourage the deployment of renewable energies and energy-efficient technologies, it said.
As a result, the EU's more ambitious scenario, which also reflects the agreed legally-binding targets on greenhouse gas emissions reduction and renewables, predicts that renewables will make up 36.1% of total electricity generation in 2030.
The Commission expects wind, including both onshore and offshore, to dominate the renewables market both in 2020 and 2030, followed by hydro power and biomass.
As renewables conquer ground, fossil fuel generation contracts significantly. The market share for gas decreases to 17.8%, while coal and other solid fuels decrease to 21.1% of total electricity generation in 2030, the Commission says.
While the share of nuclear power falls considerably, its production volumes are set to remain at current levels as some member states build new plants while others decommission them, either due to ageing or a phase-out, the report states.
The wind industry dismissed the estimates for new wind power in 2030 as unrealistic. Despite nearly doubling its expectations to 280 GW compared to its 2008 scenario, they were still far below the 400 GW that the industry itself expects to reach.
The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) took issue with the Commission's assumption that new wind power investments would slow from an annual average of 13.6 GW in the decade up to 2020 to 5.8 GW in the following decade.
"I find it unrealistic that after 20 years there would suddenly be a dramatic decline in wind power investments, especially given the new scenario's high expectations for offshore wind energy up to 2020," said Christian Kjaer, EWEA's chief executive officer.