More renewable energy used

The share of renewable energy in total energy consumption increased from 3.8 percent in 2010 to 4.2 percent in 2011. The reason for the increase is twofold: the consumption of renewable energy increased and total energy consumption decreased.

Renewable electricity still most important

The total consumption of renewable energy rose from 86 to 93 petajoules. Renewable energy is used in the form of electricity, heat and biofuels for transport vehicles. The use of biofuels for the propulsion of transport vehicles grew by one third and accounted for approximately 15 percent of the total use of renewable energy in 2011. 

Electricity is still the most important application accounting for approximately 45 percent of renewable energy (mainly electricity generated from wind energy and biomass). Heat accounted for 40 percent.

Renewable energy, final consumption by application

Renewable energy, final consumption by application

Total energy consumption down

Total energy consumption declined by 5 percent in 2011 relative to 2010. The decline is mainly due to the mild weather conditions during the winter of 2011 compared to 2010. As a result, less energy was used for heating.

Renewable heat predominantly consists of wood consumption by households in fireplaces and heat for industrial processes. The use of renewable heat is limited to meet excess energy needs when the weather is cold. Therefore, the outside temperature has far less impact on the consumption of renewable energy than on total energy consumption.

Biomass largest source of renewable energy

Three quarters of renewable energy is generated from biomass, mainly electricity and heat in waste incineration plants. As a result of capacity expansion, these installations produced approximately 20 percent more energy in 2011. The generation of heat from biomass in particular increased considerably. Biomass is also co-fired in coal-fired power plants, added to standard petrol or diesel, burnt in wood stoves and as biogas.

Renewable energy, final consumption by source

Renewable energy, final consumption by source

Wind energy accounts for nearly 20 percent of renewable energy. Other renewable energy sources include sunlight, water, geothermal sources and aerothermal heat. The collective contribution of these sources amounts to approximately 7 percent.

Reinoud Segers