The European Union has set up indicative targets for its 15 Member States to supply 22.1% of their total electricity consumption using renewable energy resources by 2010. This paper compares two ways to achieve target compliance-either with import of biomass from countries outside the EU or without. The ADMIRE REBUS model combines cost data for electricity producing renewable energy technologies with data on the renewable energy resources available in EU and assesses the effect of the various national support policies for green electricity in the EU countries. The major finding of the study is that increased imports of low-cost biomass will significantly reduce the cost of target compliance, but would hamper the use of energy crops and further development of wind power within the EU. Despite this, increased importation of biomass can be the cost-reducing factor making the target realisable, which would justify promotion of such trade. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.