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You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Efficiency of conventional thermal electricity generation / Efficiency of conventional thermal electricity generation (ENER 019) - Assessment published Apr 2013

Efficiency of conventional thermal electricity generation (ENER 019) - Assessment published Apr 2013

Indicator Assessment Created 12 Dec 2012 Published 24 Apr 2013 Last modified 06 Nov 2013, 01:33 PM
Topics: ,


 
Contents
 

Indicator definition

Output from conventional thermal power stations consists of gross electricity generation and also of any heat sold to third parties (combined heat and power plants) by conventional thermal public utility power stations as well as autoproducer thermal power stations. The energy efficiency of conventional thermal electricity production (which includes both public plants and autoproducers) is defined as the ratio of electricity and heat production to the energy input as a fuel. Fuels include solid fuels (i.e. coal, lignite and equivalents, oil and other liquid hydrocarbons, gas, thermal renewables (industrial and municipal waste, wood waste, biogas and geothermal energy) and other non-renewable waste.

Units

Units: Fuel input and electrical and heat output are measured in thousand tonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe)
Efficiency is measured as the ratio of fuel output to input (%)


Key policy question: Is the European energy production system becoming more efficient?

Key messages

The efficiency of electricity and heat production from conventional thermal power plants in EU-27countries improved between 1990 and 2010 by 5.8 percentage points (from 45.4% in 1990 to 51.2% in 2010). The non EU EEA countries (exl. Norway[1]) show a similar trend with an improvement of 5.6 percentage points (from 45.2% in 1990 to 50.8% in 2010). Between 2005 and 2010, there was a decline in efficiency of electricity and heat production from conventional thermal power plants of 1.1 percentage points (from 52.3% in 2005 to 51.2% in 2010) in the EU-27 because of lower heat production similar to non-EU EEA countries where efficiency declined by 1.3% over the same period.


[1] Norway, displays efficiencies higher than 100% for thermal generation due to the extensive use of electric boilers for heat production. In the Eurostat statistics, the heat is included in the output, while the electricity input is not. For power plants the consumption of electricity is attributed to the energy sector while partly may be in fact used as input for heat. For these reasons, Norway was excluded from the calculations.

Efficiency of conventional thermal electricity and heat production

Note: Output from conventional thermal power stations consists of gross electricity generation and also of any heat sold to third parties (combined heat and power plants) by conventional thermal public utility power stations as well as autoproducer thermal power stations. The figure on the left is including district heat and the figure on the right is excluding district heat. Left figure: Efficiency of conventional thermal electricity and heat production (including district heat). Right figure: Efficiency of conventional thermal electricity and heat production (excluding district heat)

Data source:
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Efficiency (electricity and heat) production from conventional thermal plants, 2005, 2010

Note: Output from conventional thermal power stations consists of gross electricity generation and also of any heat sold to third parties (combined heat and power plants) by conventional thermal public utility power stations as well as autoproducer thermal power stations.

Data source:
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Efficiency (electricity and heat) from public conventional thermal plants, 1990, 2010

Note: Output from conventional thermal power stations consists of gross electricity generation and also of any heat sold to third parties (combined heat and power plants) by conventional thermal public utility power stations as well as autoproducer thermal power stations.

Data source:
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Efficiency (electricity and heat) from autoproducers conventional thermal plants, 1990, 2010

Note: Output from conventional thermal power stations consists of gross electricity generation and also of any heat sold to third parties (combined heat and power plants) by conventional thermal public utility power stations as well as autoproducer thermal power stations. Due to inconsistencies in the Eurostat data set Bulgaria, Greece, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Norway are excluded for all years (efficiencies >100%). For Cyprus, Iceland and Malta data on autoproducers is not available, therefore they are also excluded for all years.

Data source:
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Key assessment

The average energy efficiency of conventional thermal electricity and heat production in the EU-27 improved over the period 1990 and 2010 by 5.8 percentage points to reach 51.2% in 2010 (49.6 % excluding district heating). The main increase was seen between 1990 and 2005 with an increase of 7.0 percentage points (from 45.4% in 1990 to 52.3% in 2005). Between 2005 and 2010, there was slight decrease in efficiency of electricity and heat production from conventional thermal power plants and district heating plants of 1.1 percentage points (from 52.3% in 2005 to 51.2% in 2010) because of lower heat production (Figure 1a and 1b). In Figure 1a and 1b, the drop in 2007 is due to decreased electrical energy output from conventional thermal power stations in Germany. Germany reports a 46% drop between 2006 and 2007 in heat output from Conventional Thermal Power Stations.

For public thermal power plants the average efficiency increased in most EU-27 countries over the period 1990-2010, resulting in a net efficiency of 50.4% in 2010 (48.6% excluding district heating). Between 2005 and 2010, the average energy efficiency of public thermal power plants increased by 0.1 percentage points (from 50.3% in 2005 to 50.4% in 2010). For autoproducers the average efficiency also increased in most EU-27 countries over the period 1990-2010, resulting in a net efficiency of 57.9 % by 2010.The higher efficiency for autoproducers is largely explained by the fact that the installations of autoproducers are often designed to be more suitable for the heat and electricity demand on a location. (See Figure 2b and Figure 2c). There was a fall in efficiency between 2005 and 2010 by 8.8 percentage points (from 66.6% in 2005 to 57.9% in 2010) due to Germany reporting a 100% drop between 2006 and 2007 in heat output from Autoproducer Conventional Thermal Power Stations. In fact, Germany reports no values from 2007 onwards. CHP is a technology used to improve energy efficiency through the generation of heat and power in the same plant. Thus CHP reduces the need for additional fuel combustion for the generation of heat and provides a large potential for reduction of CO2 emissions (Eurostat 2011).

Although overall improvements in electricity and heat generation efficiency were seen over the period 1990 to 2010, a marginal stagnation in the late 1990s and a decline in efficiency in the last four years was observed. This was due primarily to an increased utilisation of existing lower efficiency coal plants  due to fast increase in electricity consumption, which is growing at an average rate of 1.4 % per year since 1990 (see ENER 16). Over half of this electricity (50.4 % in 2010) is produced from coal, gas and oil (see ENER 36, ENER 38)[2].

    Larger benefits (fuel savings, environmental benefits, efficiency) could also be achieved by using CHP combined with district heating and cooling. In Europe there are currently more than 5000 district heating systems supplying more than 10% of the total EU-27 heat demand. Market penetration of district heating is unevenly distributed with Nordic countries having the highest penetration rate of district heating, primarily used in the residential sector, but with Poland and Germany having the largest amount of district heating delivery. High growth rates are achieved in Austria and Italy. Not all countries use district heating just for the residential sector. In Austria and Norway the service sector uses for a large percentage of district heating whereas in the Czech Republic the industry sector is also making use of district heating.

    In cities like Copenhagen, Helsinki, Warsaw, Vilnius, Riga as much as 90% of residential heat demands are satisfied by district heating. The European share of district heating in industry is about 3.5% with higher shares (10-15%) in Hungary, Poland, Finland, Netherlands, and Czech Republic. District cooling currently has a share of 2% of total cooling market in Europe (some 3TWh) but this share is increasing fast (over the last decade the growth in installed capacity increased ten fold). Sweden for instance succeeded in achieving 25% district cooling market share for commercial and institutional buildings. Cities that have reached or are on the way towards reaching 50% district cooling shares include Paris, Helsinki, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Vienna, Barcelona, Copenhagen (DHC+technology platform, 2012).

    Between 2005 and 2010, the greatest efficiency improvements in both electricity and electricity and heat production (including district heating) for conventional thermal power stations and district heating plants, occurred in Belgium (an increase of 6.9%, Malta (5%) and the Cyprus (3.9%), see Figure 2a. Decreases in the efficiency between 2005 and 2010 of electricity and heat production were seen in 14 out of the 32 EEA countries with the largest decrease occurring in Norway, Germany and France, however, there are sizeable fluctuations which indicate these data may be less reliable (See Figure 1 and 2a). These fluctuations can occur due to the methodology used and efficiency assumed when calculating energy statistics for different types of fuels, i.e. electricity is considered a primary commodity from hydro, wind, solar; heat is considered from geothermal and solar with assumed 100% efficiency. Whereas for nuclear a fixed efficiency of 33% considered in the energy statistics. Thus depending on the changing fuel mix used by countries over time, these efficiency assumptions clearly have an impact on the increase or decrease of overall efficiency improvements.

    Among the EEA, non-EU countries, Turkey registered the highest efficiency gain for conventional thermal power stations and district heating plants. For Turkey the efficiency increased in 2010 by 12.6% compared to 1990.

    Efficiencies of fossil-fired electricity and heat production in different countries have been compared in a study by IEA (2008). It appears that efficiency of Electricity Production from Coal in Public Electricity and CHP Plants in European countries (e.g. Luxembourg, Italy, Belgium and United Kingdom) are higher than the worldwide average. The combined worldwide average of efficiencies for all fossil fuels is 36%. Efficiency of Electricity Production from all Fossil Fuels in Public Electricity and CHP Plants in India and China are 28% and 32% compared to those in the investigated European countries. The efficiencies in the USA are 1% above the average level.

     

       


       

      [2] Specific details of emission levels from electricity generating plants can be obtained for a variety of pollutants at the European Pollutant Emission Register.

      Data sources

      Policy context and targets

      Context description

      Environmental context

      The indicator shows the efficiency of electricity and heat production from conventional thermal plants. A distinction is made between public (i.e. main activity producers), thermal plants and autoproducers. Public thermal plants mainly produce electricity (and heat) for public use. Autoproducers produce electricity (and heat) for private use, for instance in industrial processes.

      The efficiency of electricity and heat production is an important factor since losses in transformation account for a substantial part of the primary energy consumption (see ENER 36). Higher efficiency of production therefore results in substantial reductions in primary energy consumption, hence reduction of environmental pressures due to avoided energy production. However, the overall environmental impact has to be seen in the context of the type of fuel and the extent to which abatement technologies are used.

      Compliance with environmental legislation (for example the Large Combustion Plant Directive 2001/80/EC, the CARE package, etc) requires the application of a series of abatement technologies (e.g. to reduce SO2 emissions requires retrofitting the plant with flue-gas desulphurisation technology, carbon capture and storage to capture CO2 emissions, etc) increasing the energy consumption of the plant, thus reducing its efficiency. This is why it is important to promote highly efficient generation units, such as IGCC (Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle), which can operate at higher efficiencies.

       

      Policy context

        The Directive 2012/27/eu on energy efficiency establishes a common framework of measures for the promotion of energy efficiency within the European Union in order to achieve the headline target of 20% reduction in gross inland energy consumption. Member States are requested to set indicative targets. It is up to the Member states whether they base their targets on gross inland consumption, final energy consumption, primary or final energy savings or energy intensity.

          Council adopted on 6 April 2009 the climate-energy legislative package containing measures to fight climate change and promote renewable energy. This package is designed to achieve the EU's overall environmental target of a 20 % reduction in greenhouse gases and a 20 % share of renewable energy in the EU's total energy consumption by 2020. The climate action and renewable energy (CARE) package includes the following main policy documents:

            • Directive 2009/29/ec of the European parliament and of the Council amending directive 2003/87/ec so as to improve and extend the greenhouse gas emission allowance trading scheme of the community
            • Directive 2009/31/ec of the European parliament and of the Council on the geological storage of carbon dioxide
            • Directive 2009/28/ec of the European parliament and of the Council on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources
            • Communication from the Commission; COM(2008) 771 final. The main objectives of this communication are to report on the current status of the combined heat and power generation (CHP or cogeneration), and to present possibilities for its development.
            • Detailed guidelines for the implementation and application of Annex II to Directive 2004/8/EC; 2008/952/EC. Guidelines for the calculation of the electricity from high-efficiency cogeneration

            • Directive 2010/75/eu of the European Parliament and of the Council on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control) recast. The Directive establishes a general framework for the control of the main industrial activities in order to prevent, reduce and as far as possible eliminate pollution arising from industrial activities in compliance with the ‘polluter pays’ principle and the principle of pollution prevention.

            Targets

            No targets have been specified

            Related policy documents

            • 443/2009
              Regulation (ec) no 443/2009 of the European parliament and of the Council setting emission performance standards for new passenger cars as part of the community's integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles.
            • 2008/101/EC
              Directive 2008/101/ec of the European parliament and of the Council amending directive 2003/87/ec so as to include aviation activities in the scheme for greenhouse gas Emission allowance trading within the community
            • 2008/952/EC
              Detailed guidelines for the implementation and application of Annex II to Directive 2004/8/EC
            • 2008/c 82/01
              Community guidelines on state aid for environmental protection (2008/c 82/01)
            • 2009/28/EC
              Directive 2009/28/ec of the European parliament and of the Council on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources
            • 2009/29/ec
              Directive 2009/29/ec of the European parliament and of the Council amending directive 2003/87/ec so as to improve and extend the greenhouse gas emission allowance trading scheme of the community.
            • 2009/31/EC
              Directive 2009/31/ec of the European parliament and of the Council on the geological storage of carbon dioxide.
            • COM(2006) 545
              Action Plan for Energy Efficiency
            • COM(2008) 771
              Europe can save more energy by combined heat and power generation
            • Directive 2001/80/EC, large combustion plants
              Directive 2001/80/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2001 on the limitation of emissions of certain pollutants into the air from large combustion plants
            • DIRECTIVE 2004/8/EC
              DIRECTIVE 2004/8/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 11 February 2004 on the promotion of cogeneration based on a useful heat demand in the internal energy market and amending Directive 92/42/EEC
            • Ecofys (2007): International comparison of fossil power efficiency,
              With energy and climate markets and technologies continuously changing, profound knowledge is key to all decision making. Ecofys supports authorities and corporate organisations alike in meeting the energy and climate challenge of the 21 st century. The strategic studies, reports or market assessments we conduct provide valuable and reliable information on the latest developments and anticipated trends. Ecofys, august 2007
            • IEA (2005) - Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions The Potential of Coal, International Energy Agency
              The Directorate of Sustainable Energy Policy and Technology (SPT) is responsible for sustainable (demand-side) energy policy and energy technology policy. The Director serves as Chief IEA Technology Co-ordinator responsible for ensuring linkages between the Committee on Energy Research and Technology (CERT) , the IEA Implementing Agreements and the Secretariat in terms of technology issues.
            • OECD (2005) - International Energy Technology Collaboration and Climate Change Mitigation
              Case Study 4: Clean Coal Technologies

            Methodology

            Methodology for indicator calculation

            Average annual rate of growth calculated using: [(last year / base year) ^ (1/number of years) - 1]*100

            Efficiency of electricity and heat production = (electrical output + heat output)/fuel input
            The coding (used in the Eurostat New Cronos database) and specific components of the indicator are:

            Numerator:

            • Electricity output from conventional thermal power stations 101101 (6000 electrical energy) + Heat output from conventional thermal power stations 101101 (5200 derived heat)
            • Electricity output from public thermal power stations 101121 (6000 electrical energy) + Heat output from public thermal power stations 101121 (5200 derived heat)
            • Electricity output from autoproducer thermal power station 101122 (6000 electrical energy) + Heat output from autoproducer thermal power station 101122 (5200 derived heat)

            Denominator:

            • Input to conventional thermal power stations 101001 (0000 all products)
            • Input to public thermal power stations 101021 (0000 all products)
            • Input to autoproducer thermal power stations 101022 (0000 all products)


            Data collected annually.

            Eurostat metadata for energy statistics http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/statistics/metadata

            Geographical coverage:
            The Agency had 32 member countries at the time of writing of this fact sheet. These are the 27 European Union Member States and Turkey, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
            Total: Norway, displays efficiencies higher than 100% for thermal generation due to the extensive use of electric boilers for heat production. In the Eurostat statistics, the heat is included in the output, while the electricity input is not. For power plants the consumption of electricity is attributed to the energy sector while partly may be in fact used as input for heat. For these reasons, Norway was excluded from the calculations

            Public: Norway is excluded as the data was considered unreliable, giving efficiencies ≥ 100%. Autoprocucers: Bulgaria, Greece, Lithunia, and Slovenia are excluded as they were considered unreliable, giving efficiencies ≥ 100%. No autoproducers data was available for Cyprus, Iceland and Malta

            Temporal coverage: 1990-2010.

              Methodology for gap filling

              No methodology for gap filling has been specified. Probably this info has been added together with indicator calculation.

              Methodology references

              No methodology references available.

              Uncertainties

              Methodology uncertainty

              The efficiency of electricity production is calculated as the ratio of electricity output to the total fuel input. However, the input to conventional thermal power plants cannot be disaggregated into separate input for heat and input for electricity production. Therefore the efficiency rate of electricity and heat production equals the ratio of both electricity and heat production to fuel input, which assumes there is an efficiency rate for heat production.
              Also, electricity data (unlike that for overall energy consumption) for 1990 refers to the western part of Germany only, so there is a break in the series from 1990-1992.

              Data sets uncertainty

              Strengths and weaknesses (at data level)
              Data have been traditionally compiled by Eurostat through the annual Joint Questionnaires, shared by Eurostat and the International Energy Agency, following a well established and harmonised methodology. Methodological information on the annual Joint Questionnaires and data compilation can be found in Eurostat's web page for metadata on energy statistics.

              http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/statistics/metadata See also information related to the Energy Statistics Regulation http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/energy/introduction


              Rationale uncertainty

              No uncertainty has been specified

              More information about this indicator

              See this indicator specification for more details.

              Generic metadata

              Topics:

              Energy Energy (Primary topic)

              Tags:
              electricity | energy | heat
              DPSIR: Driving force
              Typology: Efficiency indicator (Type C - Are we improving?)
              Indicator codes
              • ENER 019
              Dynamic
              Temporal coverage:
              1990-2010
              Geographic coverage:
              Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom

              Contacts and ownership

              EEA Contact Info

              Anca-Diana Barbu

              Ownership

              EEA Management Plan

              2012 2.8.1 (note: EEA internal system)

              Dates

              Frequency of updates

              Updates are scheduled once per year
              Filed under: , ,

              Comments

              European Environment Agency (EEA)
              Kongens Nytorv 6
              1050 Copenhagen K
              Denmark
              Phone: +45 3336 7100