Europe will have to double its spending on renewables if it wants to meet its 2020 energy commitments, EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger has said.
He was speaking as the European Commission released a new communication assessing member states' progress toward meeting the 2020 targets.
The data showed that EU member states had largely failed to meet the electricity and transport targets they had set themselves for 2010.
"Some member states have made progress and are in line to meet their targets, or have gone beyond them, but some are lagging behind," Oettinger said.
"We're on the right track but we have to step up the pace."
Scale up to €70 billion
To achieve the EU's energy goals, Oettinger called for a doubling of capital investments in renewable energies from €35 billion to €70 billion.
This would require a substantial use of national support plans, he stated. But he did not set any time frame for implementation.
"We'd need a doubling of investment over the next few years," he said.
The EU is committed to a 20% increase in the share of renewables in its energy mix by 2020, compared to 1990 levels.
But the latest figures show that only seven EU countries – Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Poland and Portugal – expect to meet or exceed their 2010 renewables targets, according to their national action plans.
As a result of the difference between expectations outlined in the plans and realities, the Commission believes that Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands are more advanced along the path to clean energy than Lithuania, Poland and Portugal.
Austria, Finland, Germany, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain and Sweden all expect to exceed their 2010 targets.
But while the advances of Finland, Malta and Spain are questioned by the Commission, France, Hungary, Lithuania, and Slovakia are thought to be performing better.
Towards smart financing
The EU has a target of raising the share of fuels from renewable sources in transport to 10% by 2020.
"We have to invest much more in renewable energy and we need smart, cost-effective financing," Oettinger said.
"If member states work together and produce renewable energy where it costs less, companies, consumers and the taxpayer will benefit from this," he added.
The Greens in the European Parliament welcomed his acknowledgement of the importance of national support schemes, but said that the Commission too needed to speed up its act if targets were to be met.
"Unfortunately, the Commission is still dragging its feet on the issue of sustainable biofuels," Luxembourg Green MEP Claude Turmes said.
He called for an urgent introduction of rules to take into account the impact of biofuels on indirect land use change (ILUC).
When crops in one location are turned over for the production of biofuels such as ethanol or biodiesel, pristine forests are often cleared in another location to compensate.
The net result can be an increase in carbon emissions.
"Delaying action on this will lead to serious environmental damage and ultimately undermine the EU's climate change policy," Turmes said.