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Energy efficiency in transformation

Indicator Assessmentexpired Created 14 Apr 2010 Published 14 Sep 2010 Last modified 04 Sep 2015, 06:59 PM
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This content has been archived on 06 Nov 2013, reason: Other (Not currently being regularly updated)
Indicator codes: ENER 011
This indicator is discontinued. No more assessments will be produced.

Key messages

In 2007 only 70.4 % of the total primary energy consumption in the EU reached the end users. Transformation and distribution losses have increased slightly since1990, from 29.1 % in 1990 to 29.6 % in 2007. About 5 % represented the energy-sector's own consumption of energy. An increase of the conversion efficiency in power plants has been compensated by a sharp growth in electricity consumption. 

Are energy losses in transformation and distribution declining in Europe?

Structure of the efficiency of transformation and distribution of energy from primary energy consumption to final energy consumption, EU-27, 2007

Note: Structure of the efficiency of transformation and distribution of energy from primary energy consumption to final energy consumption, EU-27, 2007

Data source:

Eurostat. Energy statistics: Supply, transformation, consumption - all products - annual data. Webpage: http://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/show.do?dataset=nrg_100a&lang=en

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Energy losses and energy availability for end users in 2007 (% of primary energy consumption)

Note: Energy losses and energy availability for end users in 2007 (% of primary energy consumption)

Data source:

Eurostat. Energy statistics: Supply, transformation, consumption - all products - annual data. Webpage: http://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/show.do?dataset=nrg_100a&lang=en

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  • Between 1990 and 2007 energy losses in transformation and distribution increased from 29.1% in 1990 to 29.6% in 2007. Although the energy-efficiency of power and heat generation in public conventional power plants (including district heating) , increased from 43.0% in 1990 to 47.8% in the EU-27 in 2007 (see ENER19), the losses in energy supply slightly increased because the share of electricity consumption in total final energy consumption increased by 41%, from 17% in 1990 to 24% in 2007 (see ENER18). In 2007, about 80% of the losses in the energy supply sector in EU27 are a result of power generation and distribution. An increased share of electricity consumption thereby has a large impact on energy losses in the energy supply sector.
  • Transformation losses represented 22.9% of EU-27 primary energy consumption in 2007 (see Figure 1). In addition to direct generation efficiency, these losses also depend on the fuel mix (e.g. direct production of electricity from renewables, excluding biomass and municipal waste , is not subject to transformation losses in the same way as fossil fuels are), the level of electricity imports and the share of nuclear power  (see also ENER 13).
  • Around 1.5 % of primary energy is lost in distribution. This is a slight increase in comparison to 1990, where distribution losses were equal to 1.3%. Distribution losses include losses in gas and heat distribution, in electricity transmission and distribution, and in coal transport.
  • In 2007, the energy supply sector itself consumed 5.3% of primary energy as part of its internal operations. This is again a slight increase in comparison to 1990, where losses in the energy supply sector were equal to 5.0%. In addition, around 6.3% of primary energy products (in particular oil) are used directly as feedstocks (primarily in the petrochemical sector) rather than for energy purposes.
  • The efficiency of the energy system (the ratio of final energy consumption to primary energy available for end-users) varies considerably across Member States as shown in Figure 2. Losses in transformation and distribution range from 5.7% for Luxembourg to 53.1% for Malta. The low level of losses in Luxembourg reflects a significant degree of electricity imports from other countries (which means that the transformation losses involved in its production are not counted in the country of final use) as well as the fact that a significant amount of electricity (over 76%) comes from high efficiency gas-fired power plants with the remaining demand covered from hydro and other renewables. In Malta on the other hand, the main technologies used for power generation are low efficiency, small-scale oil-fired internal combustion engines and steam turbines which explains why more than 50% of the primary energy is lost. In Norway, in 2007, 98% of the electricity was generated by hydropower. In Eurostat statistics the conversion efficiency used for hydropower is 100% which explains the high efficiency for Norway. 
  • Losses from distribution are, on average, the smallest overall, but still subject to sizeable variation between Member States (from 0.2% of primary energy supply for Luxembourg to 4.2% for Romania). Countries with a high amount of district heating tend to have higher overall distribution losses. This is because losses in heat distribution networks can be sizeable (in the order of 5%-25%). Network (i.e. distribution) losses primarily depend on factors such as network design, operation and maintenance, but also on population density of the country. Systems are more efficient when power lines to large consumers are as direct as possible and reduce the number of transformation steps (as these can account for almost half of network losses - Leonardo Energy, 2008). Increasing use of distributed generation may be one way to reduce such losses.

How much can increased efficiency in transformation help reduce CO2 emissions in Europe?

Structure of CO2 emissions from thermal power plants in EU-27, 2007

Note: Structure of CO2 emissions from thermal power plants in EU-27, 2007

Data source:

EEA, Data on greenhouse gas emissions and removals, sent by countries to UNFCCC and the EU Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Mechanism (EU Member States).
http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/data/national-emissions-reported-to-the-unfccc-and-to-the-eu-greenhouse-gas-monitoring-mechanism-4

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CO2 emission savings per year for EU-27 at different transformation efficiencies compared to current 2007 efficiency

Note: CO2 emission savings per year for EU-27 at different transformation efficiencies compared to current 2007 efficiency

Data source:

EEA, Data on greenhouse gas emissions and removals, sent by countries to UNFCCC and the EU Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Mechanism (EU Member States)
http://dataservice.eea.europa.eu/pivotapp/pivot.aspx?pivotid=475

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  • Figure 3 highlights the environmental link between fuel use and CO2 emissions from public conventional thermal power plants (including district heating) in the EU-27. Moving clockwise from top-left to the bottom-left, it illustrates the share of fuel inputs (dominated primarily by coal) in EU power plants in 2007, the implied average emissions factor for each fuel type, and the average thermal plant efficiency (currently 47.8% if district heating is also included) across the EU 27. From this, the proportion of CO2 emissions caused by each fuel type can be calculated. For example, gaseous fuels (primarily natural gas) have a smaller share of fuel inputs relative to their share of output emissions, due a lower carbon content of the fuel. 
  • Given the current average efficiency and fuel mix in 2007, if conventional thermal power plants in the EU-27 were to further improve their efficiency, significant CO2 savings could be achieved as illustrated by Figure 4 (by comparison, the Kyoto commitment for the EU-15 is about 340MtCO2 on average for the period 2008-2012). For example, new state-of-the art MACC (More Advanced Combined Cycle) gas turbines can achieve electricity generation efficiencies of 60% (Ecofys, 2007). Furthermore, combined heat and power (CHP) plants that utilise a greater portion of 'waste' heat (e.g. lower grade heat directly for space heating) can reach even higher overall efficiencies.

Indicator specification and metadata

Indicator definition

EU-27 Share of primary energy by fuel type and, share of final energy consumption by sector and energy losses

Share of energy losses, own consumption of the energy industry and final energy available for final consumption in primary energy, by Member State

Structure in the efficiency of transformation and distribution of energy from primary energy consumption to final energy consumption, EU-27, 2009

Structure of CO2 emissions from thermal power plants in EU-27, 2009

  • % share of input fuels into conventional thermal power plants
  • Implied emission factors by fuel type – total fuel input by type to conventional thermal power plants (TJ) divided by CO2 emissions from plants by fuel type
  • Average efficiency for conventional thermal plant (total fuel inputs divided by total electricity and heat output)
  • Share of CO2 emissions by input fuel type.

CO2 emission savings per year for EU-27 at different transformation efficiencies compared to current 2009 efficiency

Units

Energy data:  Mtoe

CO2 emissions: Mt


Policy context and targets

Context description

Environmental context

Not all primary energy (gross inland energy consumption) is available to be utilised as useful final energy for the end-consumer due to various losses that occur within the energy system (in particular transformation losses in the production of electricity and heat). In 2009, 77% of the gross inland consumption in European Union came from fossil fuels (see ENER 26). The magnitude of these losses is an important indication of the overall environmental impact of the energy system (e.g. GHG emissions, air pollution, environmental and health impacts associated with upstream activities of resource extraction and waste disposal). 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 (see ENER 06). Because Europe imports large amounts of fossil fuels to meet the final energy demand (see ENER 12), a significant part of the environmental impact associated with the resource extraction remains outside the realm of European policy.

Policy context

Current pricing mechanisms in Europe for transmission and distribution services do not necessarily target directly improvements in efficiency of these networks. However, there are a number of policy initiatives aiming at increasing the efficiency in transformation (listed below).

On 8 March 2011, the European Commission adopted the Communication "Energy Efficiency Plan 2011" (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2011:0109:FIN:EN:PDF) aims to boost the cost-effective and efficient use of energy in the EU. One of the priority areas is making power generation and distribution more efficient. The Commission is also aiming to develop minimum efficiency requirements for new electricity, heating and cooling capacity to further reduce transformation losses. (DG TREN, 2007b).

    Proposal for a Directive on energy efficiency and repealing Directives 2004/8/EC and 2006/32/EC [COM(2011)370, 22/06/2011]. 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, a 20% increase in energy efficiency 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 dioxid.
      • Directive 2009/28/ec of the European parliament and of the Council on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources.
      • Community guidelines on state aid for environmental protection (2008/c 82/01). 
      • 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.

      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

      • Directive on the promotion of high-efficiency cogeneration (2004/8/EC);
      • Directives concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity (2003/54/EC) and gas (2003/55/EC) have led to the progressive introduction of competition in the electricity supply industry.
      • Directives related to industrial emissions such as the Large Combustion Plant Directive (2001/80/EC) which aims to control emissions of SOx, NOx and particulate matter from large (>50MW) combustion plants and hence favours the use of higher efficiency CCGT as opposed to coal plants; and the IPPC Directive (96/61/EC) which requires plant of <20MW to meet a set of basic energy efficiency provisions. 

      As part of a recent review of industrial emissions legislation the Commission has proposed (COM/2007/0844 final) a single new Directive, the Industrial Emissions Directive.  This Directive has been adopted by the European Parliament on 7 July 2010 and is pending final legal scrutiny before coming into force.  It recasts seven existing Directives related to industrial emissions (including the Large Combustion Plant and IPPC Directives) into a single clear and coherent legislative instrument focused on installations bigger than 20 MW. It is expected that these new market structures will encourage switching to cheaper and more efficient technologies.



      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.
      • 2003/54/EC
        Directives concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity
      • 2003/55/EC
        Directives concerning common rules for the internal market in gas
      • 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/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
      • Combined heat and power Communication COM(97) 514 final
        The EU indicative Combined Heat and Power target set in the Community Strategy to promote Combined Heat and Power, COM(97) 514 final of an 18 % share of CHP electricity production in total gross electricity production by 2010
      • Council Directive 96/61/EC (IPPC)
        Council Directive 96/61/EC of 24 September 1996 concerning Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC). Official Journal L 257.
      • 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

      Methodology

      Methodology for indicator calculation

      The coding (used in the Eurostat New Cronos database) and specific components of the indicators are:

      Figure 1

      % share of Gross Inland Energy Consumption (100900) for 2000 Solid Fuels, 3000 Crude oil and Petroleum Products, 4000 Gas, 5100 Nuclear Energy, 6000 Imports/exports electricity, 5500 Renewable Energies, 7100 Industrial Wastes. All in ktoe.

      % share of Gross Inland Energy consumption (100900) for Transformation losses (101000 Transformation input minus 101100 Transformation output), 101400 Distribution losses, 101300 consumption – energy sector, 101600 final non-energy consumption, 101800 final energy consumption – industry, 101900 final energy consumption – transport, 102010 final energy consumption – households, 102030 final energy consumption – agriculture (plus 102035 final energy consumption fisheries), 102035 final energy consumption – services, 102040 final energy consumption – other sectors.

      Figure 2

      % Share of 101300 (consumption – energy sector), 101400 (distribution losses), 101500 (energy available for final consumption), Transformation losses (101000 Transformation input minus 101100 Transformation output) within the sum of the above four elements for each Member State.

      Figure 3

      Data from EEA (2008)

      • % Share of fuel input (TJ) by type (liquid, solid, gaseous, biomass and other fuels) into 1A1a public electricity and heat production
      • Implied emission factor for each fuel above (tCO2 / TJ), taken from EEA (2008)
      • Average efficiency of transformation in EU-27.

      Numerator = 101109 Output from district heating plants + 101121 Output from public thermal power stations

      Denominator = 101009 Input to district heating plants + 101021 Input to public thermal power stations

      •  % Share of CO2 emissions by fuel type (liquid, solid, gaseous, biomass and other fuels into 1A1a public electricity and heat production)

      Figure 4

      Data from EEA (2008)

      Steps

      a) Implied Emissions Factor for all 1A1a public electricity and heat production of 83.5 tCO2 / TJ for all fuels excluding biomass

      b) Current average efficiency of transformation as calculated for Figure 3

      c) Estimated CO2 output for EU = total fuel input (TJ) * current average efficiency of transformation

      d) New fuel input at higher efficiency (fixing output) = Estimated CO2 output for / new efficiency

      e) CO2 emissions at new efficiency = Implied Emissions Factor * New fuel input at higher efficiency (fixing output) / 1000

      f) CO2 saving = current CO2 emissions (from EEA (2008) - CO2 emissions at new efficiency

      Geographical coverage:
      EU-27 plus Norway, Turkey, Croatia

      Temporal coverage:
      1990-2009

      Data collected annually.
      Eurostat definitions for energy statistics http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/ramon/nomenclatures/index.cfm?TargetUrl=LST_NOM&StrGroupCode=CONCEPTS&StrLanguageCode=EN
      Eurostat metadata for energy statistics http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/energy/data/database

      Official data (national total and sectoral emissions) reported to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and under the EU Monitoring Mechanism and EIONET. For the EU-27, these data are compiled by EEA in the European greenhouse gas inventory report: http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/european-union-greenhouse-gas-inventory-2011

        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

        Scenario analysis always includes many uncertainties and the results should thus be interpreted with care.

        • uncertainties related to future socioeconomic and other developments (e.g. GDP);
        • uncertainties in the underlying statistical and empirical data (e.g. on future technology costs and performance);
        • uncertainties in the representativeness of the indicator;
        • uncertainties in the dynamic behaviour of the energy system and its translation into models;
        • uncertainties in future fuel costs and the share of low carbon technologies in the future.

        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 statisticshttp://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/energy/data/database

        CO2 emissions data is officially reported following agreed procedures. e.g. regarding source/sector split under the EU Monitoring Mechanism DECISION No 280/2004/EC.

        Reliability, accuracy, robustness, uncertainty (at data level):

          The estimate of imported/domestic CO2 emissions uses an average EU-27 Implied Emission Factors (tCO2/TJ) for solid, liquid and gaseous fuels.

          The IPCC believes that the uncertainty in CO2 emission estimates from fuel use in Europe is likely to be less than ± 5%. Total GHG emission trends are likely to be more accurate than the absolute emission estimates for individual years. The IPCC suggests that the uncertainty in total GHG emission trends is ± 4% to 5%. Uncertainty estimates were calculated for the EU-15 for the first time in EEA (2005). The results suggest that uncertainties at EU-15 level are between ± 4% and 8% for total EU-15 greenhouse gas emissions. For energy related greenhouse gas emissions the results suggest uncertainties between ± 1 % (stationary combustion) and ± 11% (fugitive emissions). For public electricity and heat production specifically, the uncertainty is estimated to be ± 3%. For the new Member States and some other EEA countries, uncertainties are assumed to be higher than for the EU-15 Member States because of data gaps.

          Indicator uncertainty (scenarios)

          Scenario analysis always includes many uncertainties and the results should thus be interpreted with care.

          • uncertainties related to future socioeconomic and other developments (e.g. GDP);
          • uncertainties in the underlying statistical and empirical data (e.g. on future technology costs and performance);
          • uncertainties in the representativeness of the indicator;
          • uncertainties in the dynamic behaviour of the energy system and its translation into models;
          • uncertainties in future fuel costs and the share of low carbon technologies in the future

          Rationale uncertainty

          No uncertainty has been specified

          Data sources

          Generic metadata

          Topics:

          Energy Energy (Primary topic)

          Tags:
          energy | energy consumption | co2 | power plants
          DPSIR: Driving force
          Typology: Efficiency indicator (Type C - Are we improving?)
          Indicator codes
          • ENER 011
          Dynamic
          Temporal coverage:
          2007
          Geographic coverage:
          Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, 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

          2009 2.9.1 (note: EEA internal system)

          Dates

          Frequency of updates

          This indicator is discontinued. No more assessments will be produced.
          European Environment Agency (EEA)
          Kongens Nytorv 6
          1050 Copenhagen K
          Denmark
          Phone: +45 3336 7100