EU countries' renewables projects have not always been the best value for money, a vital criterion if the EU is to make its 2020 target for such energy, according to the European Court of Auditors (ECA).

The EU has set a target of 20% renewables in the energy mix by 2020. About €4.7 billion of EU cohesion funds were allocated to renewables projects between 2007 and 2013, the EU's last budgetary period.

The ECA found that the funds could have been used better, as many projects did not measure their cost-effectiveness or energy production results. There were no serious cost over-runs or delays in projects.

"We found that the audited projects were mostly good, in that they delivered their outputs as planned," said Kurt Baumgartz, the lead auditor for the report, published yesterday (8 July).

"But the energy energy production results were not always achieved or measured and as the projects failed to make their full contribution to the Union's energy objectives, whereby not always the most cost-effective projects were financially supported, the European taxpayer's money has only had a limited added value," he said.

Some of the projects would have taken place even without EU financial support, Baumgartz added.

The auditors issued recommendations for the European Commission for its relations with EU countries over renewables, such as encouraging them to set stable and predictable laws for such energy production and smoother ways of integrating it into the grid.

The auditors also recommended the carrying out of needs assessments and setting of cost-effectiveness criteria in the selection of renewables projects.