Beneficial effects of the European Union's renewable energy directive of 1999 are limited because it must also avoid causing trade barriers in the EU's liberalised electricity market.
A US Senate bill introduced in 2002 would increase wind, solar and other renewable energy produced by major electric companies to 10 percent by 2020. It is opposed by the government and big electric utilities, despite findings from the administration's Energy Information Administration (EIA) that overall the bill would save consumers over $13 billion through 2020 on reduced energy bills. The Senate energy bill includes a renewable electricity standard that requires major electric companies to increase sales of electricity from wind, solar and other renewable sources from 2 percent today to about 10 percent by 2020. This would result in a quadrupling, by 2020, of the amount of clean, renewable energy produced. The 74,000 megawatts of renewable energy that would be online by 2020 would be enough to power about 53 million homes. Data from the Union of Concerned Scientists shows that the renewable electricity standard could save consumers nearly $3 billion through 2020.
At heart, the major obstacles standing in the way of a renewable-energy economy are not technical in nature; they concern the laws, regulations, incentives, public attitudes, and other factors that make up the energy market.