Overview of the electricity production and use in Europe
Published (reviewed and quality assured)
Justification for indicator selection
Electricity generation is linked to a number of health and environmental impacts. The fuel mix used in electricity production provides a broad indication of whether these effects are likely to diminish or will be enhanced. The type and the extent of pressures on the environment and human health stemming from electricty production depend upon the technology employed (and its efficiency) and the amount of fuels used for electricity generation as well as the use of abatement technologies.
Due to energy losses incurred in both the production (particularly from conventional thermal and nuclear power plants) and transport of electricity, the rise in electricity consumption is of particular concern for the environment. However, an increase of electricity consumption in the transport sector might signal a positive trend of modal shift towards rail transport or higher penetration of electric vehicles.
This indicator is a compilation of the former:
- ENER 18 Final electricity consumption by sector
- ENER 27 Gross inland electricity production by fuel
- Annual European Community greenhouse gas inventory 1990 - 2006 and inventory report 2008 Technical report No 6/2008
- Electricity information 2004 - IEA statistics
- EEA (2012) Greenhouse gas data viewer last update June 2012
Total gross electricity generation covers gross electricity generation in all types of power plants. The gross electricity generation at the plant level is defined as the electricity measured at the outlet of the main transformers. i.e. the consumption of electricity in the plant auxiliaries and in transformers is included.
Electricity production by fuel is the gross electricity generation from plants utilising the following fuels: coal and lignite, oil, nuclear, natural and derived gas, renewables (wind. hydro. biomass and waste. solar PV and geothermal) and other fuels. The latter include electricity produced from power plants not accounted for elsewhere such as those fuelled by certain types of industrial wastes which are not classed as renewable. Other fuels also include the electricity produced as a result of pumping in hydro power stations.
The share of each fuel in electricity production is taken as the ratio of electricity production from the relevant category against total gross electricity generation. It should be noted that the share of renewable electricity in this indicator, based on production, is not directly comparable with the share required under Directive 2001/77/EC which is based upon the share of renewables in electricity consumption. The difference between both shares is accounted for by the net balance between imports and exports of electricity and by how much domestic electricity generation is increased or reduced as a result.
Final electricity consumption covers electricity supplied to the final consumer's door for all energy uses, it does not include own use by electricity producers or transmission and distribution losses. It is calculated as the sum of final electricity consumption from all sectors. These are disaggregated to cover industry, transport, households, services (including agriculture and other sectors).
- Electricity generation is measured in either GWh or TWh (1000 GWh)
- Final electricity consumption is measured in terawatt hours (TWh).
Policy context and targets
This indicator describes the trends observed in electricity production and use in Europe. Shares of electricity production from different fuels in total gross electricity production aim to indicate to what extent there has been a decarbonisation of the electricity production in Europe. Electricity production from fossil fuels (such as oil products, hard coal, lignite and natural and derived gas) has a number of negative effects on the environment and human health, CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution levels (e.g. SO2 and NOX), water pollution and biodiversity loss. These effects are fuel-specific : for instance, natural gas has approximately 40 % less carbon than coal per unit of energy content, and 25 % less carbon content than oil, and contains only marginal quantities of sulphur (see ENER36). There are other environmental pressures coming from energy production: air pollution, land –use changes and crop-escape (that could result in large scale introduction of invasive species) from biomass, surface and groundwater pollution, ecosystem services and biodiversity loss, etc. The pressure on the environment and human health from energy consumption can be diminished by decreasing energy consumption and switching to energy sources that have a lower impact on the environment and human health.
While nuclear power produces less greenhouse gas emissions and atmospheric pollution over the life cycle compared to conventional sources, there is a risk of accidental radioactive releases, and highly radioactive waste (for which no generally acceptable disposal route has yet been established) is accumulating. Thus another way of reducing energy-related pressures on the environment includes using less electricity on the demand-side, through improved efficiency, conservation or a combination of the two.
The Europe 2020 growth growth strategy aims to address shortcoming of the European economic model while creating coditions for smarter, more sustainable and inclusive growth. One of the headline targets include the objective of increasing the share of renewable energy in final energy consumption to 20% by 2020.
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. This directive has a direct impact on the renewables target since it aims to reduce the final energy consumption, thus making the renewables target easier to reach.
A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050 (COM(2011) 112 final). Presents a roadmap for action in line with a 80-95% greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2050.
On 15 December 2011, the European Commission adopted the Communication "Energy Roadmap 2050". The EU is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 80-95% below 1990 levels by 2050 in the context of necessary reductions by developed countries as a group. In the Energy Roadmap 2050 the Commission explores the challenges posed by delivering the EU's decarbonisation objective while at the same time ensuring security of energy supply and competitiveness.
On 10 November 2010, the European Commission has adopted the Communication "Energy 2020 - A strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy". The Communication defines the energy priorities for the next ten years and sets the actions to be taken in order to tackle the challenges of saving energy, achieving a market with competitive prizes and secure supplies, boosting technological leadership, and effectively negotiate with our international partners.
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 of 23 April 2009 amending Directive 2003/87/EC so as to improve and extend the greenhouse gas emission allowance trading scheme of the Community
- Decision No 406/2009/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the effort of Member States to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to meet the Community’s greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments up to 2020 ("Effort Sharing Decision")
- Directive 2009/28/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources and amending and subsequently repealing Directives 2001/77/EC and 2003/30/EC ("Renewable energy Directive")
- Directive 2009/31/EC on the geological storage of carbon dioxide
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 2006/12/EC on waste requires all EU Member States to take the necessary measures to ensure that waste is treated and disposed of correctly, sets targets for re-use and recycling, and requires Member States to draw up binding national programmes for waste prevention.
Second Strategic Energy Review; COM(2008) 781 final
Strategic review on short, medium and long term targets on EU energy security.
The European Strategic Energy Technology Plan; COM(2007) 723
Focuses on bringing new renewable energy technologies to market competitiveness.
For the transport sector (see CSI 037)
No targets have been specified
Related policy documents
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.
Community guidelines on state aid for environmental protection (2008/c 82/01)
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.
2009/125/EC - Ecodesign Directive
The Ecodesign Directive is a framework Directive: it does not set binding requirements on products by itself, but through implementing measures adopted on a case by case basis for each product group. All guiding principles for developing implementing measures are set in the framework Directive 2009/125/EC . The list of product groups to be addressed through implementing measures is established in the periodic Working Plan . Standardisation supports the implementation of the Ecodesign Directive (notably through harmonised standards giving presumption of conformity with all or some Ecodesign legal requirements).
Climate action and renewable energy package (CARE Package)
Combating climate change is a top priority for the EU. Europe is working hard to cut its greenhouse gas emissions substantially while encouraging other nations and regions to do likewise.
Proposal for a Directive 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 system of the Community.
Proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the effort of Member States to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to meet the Community’s greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments up to 2020.
COM (2011) 112 - A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050
With its "Roadmap for moving to a competitive low-carbon economy in 2050" the European Commission is looking beyond these 2020 objectives and setting out a plan to meet the long-term target of reducing domestic emissions by 80 to 95% by mid-century as agreed by European Heads of State and governments. It shows how the sectors responsible for Europe's emissions - power generation, industry, transport, buildings and construction, as well as agriculture - can make the transition to a low-carbon economy over the coming decades.
COM(2008) 16 final
Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2003/87/EC so as to improve and extend the greenhouse gasemission allowance trading system of the Community
Eco-Design Directive; COM(2008) 778
COM(2008) 781 final - Second Strategic Energy Review
COM(2010) 639 final: Energy 2020 – A strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy
A strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy
DIRECTIVE 2001/77/EC Renewable electricity
Directive 2001/77/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 September 2001 on the promotion of electricity produced from renewable energy sources in the internal electricity market
DIRECTIVE 2008/101/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 19 November 2008 amending Directive 2003/87/EC so as to include aviation activities in the scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Community
DIRECTIVE 2009/28/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 23 April 2009 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources and amending and subsequently repealing Directives 2001/77/EC and 2003/30/EC
Energy labelling directive Directive 2010/30/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 on the indication by labelling and standard product information of the consumption of energy and other resources by energy-related products
Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; adopted at COP3 in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997
Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2003/87/EC so as to improve and extend the EU greenhouse gas emission allowance trading system - Summary of the Impact Assessment.
Treaty of Accession to the European Union. Annex II. Part 12. page 588
Amends Directive 2001/77/EC in order to set targets for new Member States on the contribution of renewable energy to electricity generation.
Key policy question
Is the electricity production becoming less carbon intensive in Europe?
Specific policy question
Is electricity consumption increasing in Europe?
Specific policy question
Are power plants becoming more efficient?
Methodology for indicator calculation
Methodology and frequency of data collection: Data collected annually.
- Eurostat definitions and concepts for energy statistics http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_SDDS/en/nrg_quant_esms.htm
- Eurostat metadata for energy statistics http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/statistics/metadata
Methodology of data manipulation
Average annual rate of growth calculated using: [(last year/base year) ^ (1/number of years) –1]*100
Share of electricity production by fuel calculated as ratio of electricity production by fuel type to total gross electricity generation.
The coding (used in the Eurostat database) for the gross electricity generation is :
Coal fired power stations:
- anthracite : main electricity activity 22_108501, main activity CHP 22_108502, autoproducers electricity 22_108503, autoproducers CHP 22_108504
- Coking coal : main electricity activity 22_108511, main activity CHP 22_108512, autoproducers electricity 22_108513, autoproducers CHP 22_108514
- Bituminous : main electricity activity 22_108521, main activity CHP 22_108522, autoproducers electricity 22_108523, autoproducers CHP 22_108524
- Sub Bituminous : main electricity activity 22_108531, main activity CHP 22_108532, autoproducers electricity 22_108533, autoproducers CHP 22_108534
- Lignite/brown coal : main electricity activity 22_108541, main activity CHP 22_108542, autoproducers electricity 22_108543, autoproducers CHP 22_108544
- Peat : main electricity activity 22_108551, main activity CHP 22_108552, autoproducers electricity 22_108553, autoproducers CHP 22_108554
- Patent fuel : main electricity activity 22_108561, main activity CHP 22_108562, autoproducers electricity 22_108563, autoproducers CHP 22_108564
- Coke oven coke: main electricity activity 22_108571, main activity CHP 22_108572, autoproducers electricity 22_108573, autoproducers CHP 22_108574
- Gas coke : main electricity activity 22_108581, main activity CHP 22_108582, autoproducers electricity 22_108583, autoproducers CHP 22_108584
- Coal tar : main electricity activity 22_108591, main activity CHP 22_108592, autoproducers electricity 22_108593, autoproducers CHP 22_108594
- BKB/briquettes : main electricity activity 22_108601, main activity CHP 22_108602, autoproducers electricity 22_108603, autoproducers CHP 22_108604
Oil fired power stations:
- crude oil : main electricity activity 22_108701, main activity CHP 22_108702, autoproducers electricity 22_108703, autoproducers CHP 22_108704
- NGL (Natural Gas Liquid) : main electricity activity 22_108711, main activity CHP 22_108712, autoproducers electricity 22_108713, autoproducers CHP 22_108714
- Refinery gas : main electricity activity 22_108721, main activity CHP 22_108722, autoproducers electricity 22_108723, autoproducers CHP 22_108724
- LPG : main electricity activity 22_108731, main activity CHP 22_108732, autoproducers electricity 22_108733, autoproducers CHP 22_108734
- Naphta: main electricity activity 22_108741, main activity CHP 22_108742, autoproducers electricity 22_108743, autoproducers CHP 22_108744
- Kerozene type jet fuel: main electricity activity 22_108751, main activity CHP 22_108752, autoproducers electricity 22_108753, autoproducers CHP 22_108754
- Other Kerozene: main electricity activity 22_108761, main activity CHP 22_108762, autoproducers electricity 22_108763, autoproducers CHP 22_108764
- Gas/diesel oil: main electricity activity 22_108771, main activity CHP 22_108772, autoproducers electricity 22_108773, autoproducers CHP 22_108774
- Residual fuel oil: main electricity activity 22_108781, main activity CHP 22_108782, autoproducers electricity 22_108783, autoproducers CHP 22_108784
- Bitumen: main electricity activity 22_108791, main activity CHP 22_108792, autoproducers electricity 22_108793, autoproducers CHP 22_108794
- Petroleum coke: main electricity activity 22_108801, main activity CHP 22_108802, autoproducers electricity 22_108803, autoproducers CHP 22_108804
- Other oil products: main electricity activity 22_108811, main activity CHP 22_108812, autoproducers electricity 22_108813, autoproducers CHP 22_108814
Natural gas fired power stations
- main electricity activity 22_108891
- main activity CHP 22_108892
- autoproducers electricity 22_108893
- autoproducers CHP 22_108894
Derived gas fired power stations
- Gas works gas : main electricity activity 22_108611, main activity CHP 22_108612, autoproducers electricity 22_108613, autoproducers CHP 22_108614
- Coke oven gas : main electricity activity 22_1086211, main activity CHP 22_108622, autoproducers electricity 22_108623, autoproducers CHP 22_108624
- Blast furnace gas : main electricity activity 22_108631, main activity CHP 22_108632, autoproducers electricity 22_108633, autoproducers CHP 22_108634
- Oxygen steel furnace gas : main electricity activity 22_108641, main activity CHP 22_108642, autoproducers electricity 22_108643, autoproducers CHP 22_108644
Biomass fired power stations
- Industrial wastes : main electricity activity 22_108901, main activity CHP 22_108902, autoproducers electricity 22_108903, autoproducers CHP 22_108904
- Municipal wastes (renewable): main electricity activity 22_108911, main activity CHP 22_108912, autoproducers electricity 22_108913, autoproducers CHP 22_108914
- Municipal wastes (non-renewable): main electricity activity 22_108921, main activity CHP 22_108922, autoproducers electricity 22_108923, autoproducers CHP 22_108924
- Wood, wood wastes and other solid fuels: main electricity activity 22_108931, main activity CHP 22_108932, autoproducers electricity 22_1089313, autoproducers CHP 22_108934
- Landfill gas: main electricity activity 22_108941, main activity CHP 22_108942, autoproducers electricity 22_1089343, autoproducers CHP 22_108944
- Sludge gas: main electricity activity 22_108951, main activity CHP 22_108952, autoproducers electricity 22_1089353, autoproducers CHP 22_108954
- Other biogas: main electricity activity 22_108961, main activity CHP 22_108962, autoproducers electricity 22_1089363, autoproducers CHP 22_108964
- Other liquid biofuels: main electricity activity 22_108971, main activity CHP 22_108972, autoproducers electricity 22_1089373, autoproducers CHP 22_108974
- Main electricity from photovoltaic 14_1070421
- main solar thermal 14_1070422
- autoproducers solar 14_1070423
- Main electricity from pumped hydro 15_107036
- autoproducers pumped hydro 14_107037
- Main electricity activity 15_107030
- main activity CHP 15_107031
- autoproducers electricity 15_107032
- autoproducers CHP 15_107033
It should be noted that in the Eurostat database ‘Other fuels – 107012’ also includes ‘gross production from photovoltaic systems - 107023’ and although almost negligible in overall terms it has been subtracted from 107012 in the calculation of the indicator.
For the denominator, where required: total gross electricity generation 107000
Electricity consumption per capita calculated by dividing final electricity consumption by population for each country (demo_pjan).
The coding (used in the Eurostat New Cronos database) and specific components of the indicator (in relation to the product ‘6000 - electrical energy’) are:
- Numerator: final electricity consumption industry 101800 + final electricity consumption transport 101900 + final electricity consumption households 102010 + final electricity consumption services/agriculture calculated as (final electricity consumption households/services 102000 - final electricity consumption households 102010).
- Only if needed for shares; Denominator: (total) final electricity consumption 101700
Efficiency of the electric sector
The efficiency of the electric sector is calculated as the ratio between the electricity production and the inputs used to produce electricity (Transformation input for thermal power stations (coal, oil, gas, biomass) + nuclear production, hydro, geothermal, solar, wind, biofuel).
Methodology for gap filling
No gap filling procedure has been applied.
No methodology references available.
EEA data references
- No datasets have been specified here.
External data references
Data sources in latest figures
No uncertainty has been specified
Data sets uncertainty
Data has 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/cache/ITY_SDDS/en/nrg_quant_esms.htm
Biomass and wastes, as defined by Eurostat, cover organic, non-fossil material of biological origin, which may be used for heat production or electricity generation. They comprise wood and wood waste, Biogas, municipal solid waste (MSW) and biofuels. MSW comprises biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes produced by different sectors. Non-biodegradable municipal and solid wastes are not considered to be renewable, but current data availability does not allow the non-biodegradable content of wastes to be identified separately, except for that from industry.
Also, electricity data (unlike that for overall energy consumption) for 1990 refers to the western part of Germany only.
Electricity consumption within the national territory includes imports of electricity from neighbouring countries. It also excludes the electricity produced nationally but exported abroad. In some countries the contribution of electricity trade to total electricity consumption and the changes observed from year to year need to be looked at carefully when analysing trends in electricity production by fuel. Impacts on the (national) environment are also affected since emissions are accounted where the electricity is produced whereas consumption is accounted where the electricity is consumed.
Short term work
Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.
Long term work
Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.
Responsibility and ownership
EEA Contact InfoMihai Florin Tomescu
Frequency of updates
ClassificationDPSIR: Driving force
Typology: Efficiency indicator (Type C - Are we improving?)
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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