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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 Sep 2010

Efficiency of conventional thermal electricity generation (ENER 019) - Assessment published Sep 2010

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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:
1990-2007
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
 
Contents
 

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 and district heating plants improved steadily from 43.5% in 1990 to 49.0% in 2006, but decreased to 48.3% in 2007 because of lower heat production. The improvement until 2006 was due to the closure of old inefficient plants, improvements in existing technologies, often combined with a switch from coal power plants to more efficient combined cycle gas-turbines. The environmental benefits resulting from the increase in efficiency of the conventional thermal electricity and heat production (including biomass were offset by the rapid growth in fossil-fuel based (oil, gas, coal & lignite) electricity production (30.0% in the period 1990-2007).  

Efficiency (electricity and heat) from autoproducers conventional thermal plants, 1990, 2007

Note: Efficiency (electricity and heat) from autoproducers conventional thermal plants, 1990, 2007

Data source:

Eurostat. Energy statistics: Output from autoproducer thermal power stations  - Supply, transformation, consumption - electricity  - annual data. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/energy/data/database


Eurostat. Energy statistics: Output from autoproducer thermal power stations - Supply, transformation, consumption - heat  - annual data. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/energy/data/database


Eurostat. Energy statistics: Input to autoproducer thermal power stations - Supply, transformation, consumption - all products - annual data. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/energy/data/database

Downloads and more info

Efficiency of conventional thermal electricity and heat production

Note: Efficiency of conventional thermal electricity and heat production

Data source:

Eurostat. Energy statistics: Output from conventional thermal power stations - Supply, transformation, consumption - electricity  - annual data. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/energy/data/database

Eurostat. Energy statistics: Output from conventional thermal power stations - Supply, transformation, consumption - heat  - annual data. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/energy/data/database

Eurostat. Energy statistics: Output from district heating plants - Supply, transformation, consumption - all products - annual data. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/energy/data/database

Eurostat. Energy statistics: Input to to conventional thermal power stations - Supply, transformation, consumption - all products - annual data. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/energy/data/database

Eurostat. Energy statistics: Eurostat. Input to district heating plants - Supply, transformation, consumption - all products - annual data. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/energy/data/database

 

 

Downloads and more info

Efficiency (electricity and heat) production from conventional thermal plants, 1990, 2007

Note: Efficiency (electricity and heat) production from conventional thermal plants, 1990, 2007

Data source:

Eurostat. Energy statistics: Output from conventional thermal power stations - Supply, transformation, consumption - electricity  - annual data. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/energy/data/database


Eurostat. Energy statistics: Output from conventional thermal power stations - Supply, transformation, consumption - heat  - annual data. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/energy/data/database


Eurostat. Energy statistics: Output from district heating plants - Supply, transformation, consumption - all products - annual data. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/energy/data/database


Eurostat. Energy statistics: Input to to conventional thermal power stations - Supply, transformation, consumption - all products - annual data. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/energy/data/database


Eurostat. Energy statistics: Input to district heating plants - Supply, transformation, consumption - all products - annual data. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/energy/data/database

Downloads and more info

Efficiency (electricity and heat) from public conventional thermal plants, 1990, 2007

Note: Efficiency (electricity and heat) from public conventional thermal plants, 1990, 2007

Data source:

Eurostat. Energy statistics: Output from public thermal power stations - Supply, transformation, consumption - electricity  - annual data. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/energy/data/database


Eurostat. Energy statistics: Output from public thermal power stations - Supply, transformation, consumption - heat  - annual data. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/energy/data/database


Eurostat. Energy statistics: Output from district heating plants - Supply, transformation, consumption - all products - annual data. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/energy/data/database


Eurostat. Energy statistics: Input to to public thermal power stations - Supply, transformation, consumption - all products - annual data. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/energy/data/database


Eurostat. Energy statistics: Input to district heating plants - Supply, transformation, consumption - all products - annual data. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/energy/data/database

Downloads and more info

Key assessment

  • The average energy efficiency of conventional thermal electricity and heat production in the EU-27 improved over the period 1990-2007 by 4.7 percentage points to reach 48.3 %[1] in 2007 (47.0 % excluding district heating). The greatest efficiency improvements in both electricity and electricity and heat production occurred in Luxembourg (construction of a new CCGT) and in Romania (more efficient plants). Significant decreases in the efficiency of electricity and heat production were seen in Germany, France, Estonia and Iceland between 1990 and 2007. A closer examination of the more recent trend for Germany shows a fluctuating but seemingly stable efficiency, with the decrease in overall efficiency primarily due to a higher share of inefficient coal power in 2007. The efficiency of the new, electricity -only capacity is higher than older electricity generation but remains lower when constrasted to the combined production of both heat and electricity (when there is an uptake of the produced heat). Same is valid for heat production. France, Estonia and Iceland show a decline of efficiency in the last few years, however, there are sizeable fluctations in the data indicating these may be less reliable. (See Figure 1 and Figure 2a)
  • For public thermal power plants the average efficiency increased in most countries over the period 1990-2007, resulting in a net efficiency of 47.8% in 2007 (46.3% excluding district heating). For autoproducers the average efficiency also increased in most countries over the period 1990-2007, resulting in a net efficiency of 52.6 % by 2007. The higher efficiency for autoproducers is largely explained by the fact that the installations of autoproducers are often designed or dimensioned more suitable for the heat and electricity demand on a location. (See Figure 2b and Figure 2c); 
  • Although overall improvements in electricity and heat generation efficiency were seen over the period 1990 to 2007, a marginal stagnation in the late 1990s and a decline in efficiency in the last two years was observed. This was due primarily to an increased utilisation of existing lower efficiency coal plant (see ENER 27). Between 2006 and 2007, the overall efficiency decreased again with 0.6 percentage points due to the higher share of electricity production by inefficient coal power in some countries.
  • The positive impacts on the environment (particularly decreased emissions) from the efficiency improvement in the electricity production, may be offset by the fast increase in electricity consumption, which is growing at an average rate of 1.7 % per year since 1990 (see ENER 18), especially considering that over half of this electricity (55.4 % in 2007) is produced from coal, gas and oil (see ENER 27)[2].


 (1) Note the average transformation efficiency estimated in ENER11 was calculated from the energy input to and output from public conventional thermal power and district heating stations  – thus, excluding the input and output from ‘autoproducers’. This is line with UNFCCC/IPCC Guidelines; therefore allowing a more consistent link between the CO2 emissions saved and the improvements in the efficiency of transformation.

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

Specific policy question: What are the main technological developments underlying the observed trends in efficiency of the European energy production system?

Specific assessment

    • The growth in the use of combined cycle gas turbine plants (CCGT) has been an important factor in improving efficiency in the EU-15 Member States. CCGT plants can achieve conversion efficiencies in the order of 60%, with the prospect of even higher efficiencies in future power plants. However, continued improvements have also been made in conventional coal generation with plants capable of efficiencies in the range 40-45% (for instance in Denmark), and further advances that may allow this to exceed 50% (IEA, 2005).
    • CHP provides a large potential for increasing efficiency of electricity production and reduction of CO2 -emissions (see ENER 20). Descentralised CHP could bring about larger benefits as a recent study carried out in the UK shows (ICE,2009). Acording to this study, descentralised, gas-fired CHP plants could deliver energy with a carbon content of about 300gCO2/kWh compared with 501gCO2/kWh which was the average in the UK (given its specifc fuel mix) in 2007. These benefits are additional to further savings of about 5gCO2/kWh compared to a modern combined cycle gas turbine.
    • 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 some 5000 district heating systems supplying some 9% of the total Eu-27 heat demand, with Nordic countries having the highest penetration rate of district heating but with Poland and Germany having the largest amount of district heating delivery. 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 is expected to reach a 25% district cooling market share for commercial and institutional buildings in two to three years time.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).

Specific policy question: What are the key differences among European countries as well as between European countries and other countries and regions in the world?

Specific assessment

  • At the beginning of the 1990s, the energy sector particularly in the new EU Member States was characterised by low generation efficiencies due to obsolete plant technology. However, in the second half of the 1990s investments were made to improve the performance of existing plants which led to efficiency improvements which explain efficiency gains in 2007 compared to 1990 higher than the European average in countries like Romania (the efficiency increased by  33 percentage points), Lithuania (the efficiency increased by 18.2 percentage points) and Slovakia (the efficiency increased by 15.4 percentage points) but also in the Eu-15 countries such as Luxembourg (the efficiency increased by 33 percentage points), Netherlands (the efficiency increased by 14.5 percentage points), and Italy (the efficiency increased by 13.1 Percentage points). See Figure 2a (see also ENER 11).
  • Among the EEA, non-EU countries, Turkey and Switzerland registered the highest efficiency gain. For these two coutries the efficiency increased in 2007 by 13.3 and 10.6 percentage points respectively compared to 1990.
  • Efficiencies of fossil-fired electricity and heat production in different countries have been compared in a recent study (Ecofys, 2007). It appears that efficiencies in European countries (France, UK, Ireland, Nordic countries and Germany) are higher than the worldwide average. When the worldwide average is set at 100%, efficiencies in India and China are typically 15–19% lower than those in the investigated European countries. The efficiencies in the USA are 1% below the average level.

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Cinzia Pastorello

Ownership

EEA Management Plan

2009 2.9.1 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

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Comments

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