Overview of electricity production and use in Europe

Indicator Specification
Indicator codes: ENER 038
Created 02 Oct 2015 Published 10 Dec 2015 Last modified 25 Nov 2016, 12:25 PM
Topics: ,
Total gross electricity generation covers gross electricity generation in all types of power plants. Gross electricity generation at 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 using the following fuels: coal and lignite, oil, nuclear, natural and derived gas, renewables (wind. hydro. biomass and waste. solar photovoltaics 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 the electricity producer's own use 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 and services (including agriculture and other sectors).

Assessment versions

Published (reviewed and quality assured)

Rationale

Justification for indicator selection

Electricity generation gives rise to negative impacts on the environment and human health throughout all stages of its life-cycle, from resource extraction to electricity use. The fuel mix used in electricity production provides a broad indication of the type and magnitude of pressures on the environment and human health. Impacts stemming from electricity production depend upon the (fossil) fuel employed, how it was extracted and processed, the actual technology (and its efficiency) used to produce electricity, as well as the use of abatement technologies. Electricity generated from renewable energy sources generally has a lower environmental impact (e.g. emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants) over its life-cycle than electricity generated from fossil fuels. A higher share of renewable electricity thus helps to diminish the environmental pressures stemming from electricity generation.

An almost full decarbonisation of the electricity sector will be needed in order to meet the EU’s objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% by 2050.

Increasing electricity generation and use throughout Europe -without reforming the current energy system - will lead to higher overall health and environmental impacts. Nevertheless, an increase in electricity consumption in the transport sector might signal a positive modal shift towards rail transport or a higher penetration of electric vehicles.

Scientific references

Indicator definition

Total gross electricity generation covers gross electricity generation in all types of power plants. Gross electricity generation at 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 using the following fuels: coal and lignite, oil, nuclear, natural and derived gas, renewables (wind. hydro. biomass and waste. solar photovoltaics 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 the electricity producer's own use 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 and services (including agriculture and other sectors).

Units

  • Electricity generation is measured in either gigawatt hours (GWh) or terawatt hours (TWh) (1 TWh = 1000 GWh).
  • Final electricity consumption is measured in terawatt hours (TWh).

Policy context and targets

Context description

Environmental context

This indicator describes the trends observed in electricity generation and use in Europe. Electricity generation has a number of negative impacts on the environment and human health. These arise at all stages of the electricity life-cycle, for instance:

  • impacts on climate change and air quality due to the emission of CO2 and other greenhouse gases and air pollutants (e.g. SO2, NOx and PM) arise from combustion processes;
  • impacts on water quality and quantity as a result of dam construction for hydropower, water retention for energy crops and water use for the cooling of power plants;
  • direct and indirect impacts on land resources, including natural habitats and ecosystems, as a result of further deforestation in the tropics for the production of bioenergy, as well as the fragmentation of habitats due to resource extraction and the construction of pipelines, grids and infrastructures needed for power generation.
  • a broad range of specific social and environmental impacts due to the extraction of conventional and unconventional fossil fuels.

Most of these impacts tend to be fuel-specific. For instance, nuclear power produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions and atmospheric pollution throughout its life-cycle, compared to conventional sources, but carries a certain risk of accidental radioactive release. Moreover, the management and disposal of spent fuel and radioactive waste is problematic. While electricity from natural gas gives rise to approximately 40 % fewer carbon dioxide emissions per unit than coal and 25 % fewer carbon dioxide emissions than oil, and contains only marginal quantities of sulphur (see ENER 036), increasing the use of unconventional gas resources (such as shale gas and coal bed methane) would lead to other specific environmental pressures.

In total gross electricity production, the shares of electricity generation from different fuels aim to indicate to what extent the decarbonisation of electricity generation in Europe has occurred. Pressure exerted on the environment and human health due to energy consumption can be diminished by decreasing electricity consumption through efficiency improvements and energy conservation, and switching to those sources and technologies that have a lower impact on the environment and human health.

Policy context

  • Conclusions on 2030 Climate and Energy Policy Framework, European Council, 23 and 24 October 2014, SN 79/14.
  • A policy framework for climate and energy between 2020 and 2030 (COM(2014) 15 final) presents an integrated policy framework with binding EU-wide targets for greenhouse gas emissions reductions and the development of renewable energy sources, and includes objectives for energy efficiency improvements up to 2030.
  • A roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050 (COM(2011) 112 final) presents plans for actions in line with an 80-95 % reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
  • Energy 2020 – A strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy (COM(2010) 639 final) - presents the five priorities of the new energy strategy defined by the Commission.
  • On 6 April, the Council adopted the climate-energy legislative package, known as the climate action and renewable energy (CARE) 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.
  • 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 emissions 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.
  • Directive 2009/125/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a framework to set eco-design requirements for energy-related products.
  • Directive 2010/30/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on indications of the consumption of energy and other resources by energy-related products via labelling and standard product information .
  • 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 emissions allowance trading within the Community.
  • Regulation (EC) No. 443/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council, setting emissions performance standards for new passenger cars as part of the Community’s integrated approach to reducing CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles.
  • Second Strategic Energy Review; COM(2008) 781 final. Strategic review on short, medium and long term targets on EU energy security.

Targets

No targets have been specified

Related policy documents

  • 2008/c 82/01
    Community guidelines on state aid for environmental protection (2008/c 82/01)
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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
  • COM(2008) 781
    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
  • COM(2014) 15 final
    Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions "A policy framework for climate and energy in the period from 2020 to 2030". 22 January 2014, COM(2014) 15 final; {SWD(2014) 15 final}, {SWD(2014) 16 final}.  This Communication p resents an integrated policy framework with binding EU-wide targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions and the development of renewable energy sources and with objectives for energy efficiency improvements for the period up to 2030.
  • Decision No 406/2009/EC (Effort Sharing Decision)
    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
  • DIRECTIVE 2008/101/EC
    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
    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
  • Directive 2010/30/EU
    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
  • EEA greenhouse gas - data viewer
    The EEA GHG viewer provides easy access and analysis of the data contained in the Annual European Union greenhouse gas inventory and inventory report. The EEA GHG data viewer can show emission trends for the main sectors and allows for comparisons of emissions between different countries and activities.
  • EU Council Conclusion SN79/14 on 2030 Climate and Energy Framework
    EU Council conclusions of 23 October 2014 on 2030 Climate and Energy Framework
  • 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
  • REGULATION (EC) No 443/2009 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL 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.
  • The EU climate and energy (CARE) Package
    The climate and energy package is a set of binding legislation which aims to ensure the European Union meets its ambitious climate and energy targets for 2020. These targets, known as the "20-20-20" targets, set three key objectives for 2020: A 20% reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels; Raising the share of EU energy consumption produced from renewable resources to 20%; A 20% improvement in the EU's energy efficiency.
  • 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 electricity production in Europe becoming less carbon intensive?

Specific policy question

Is electricity consumption in Europe increasing?

Specific policy question

Are power plants becoming more efficient?

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

Technical information

  1. Geographical coverage:
    The EEA had 33 member countries at the time of writing. These are the 28 European Union Member States and Turkey, plus the EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway and Switzerland). Iceland and Liechtenstein are no longer covered separately by Eurostat.
  2. 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
  3. 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 the 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
  • Liquefied Petroleum Gas (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 Kerosene: 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

    Solar
  • Main electricity from photovoltaics 14_1070421, main solar thermal 14_1070422, autoproducers solar 14_1070423

    Pumped hydro
  • Main electricity from pumped hydro 15_107036, autoproducers pumped hydro 14_107037

    Nuclear
  • 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
    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 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).

    CO2 emissions intensity of public electricity and heat production
    The CO2 emissions intensity of public electricity and heat production is calculated as the ratio between CO2 emissions from public electricity and heat production (in gCO2) and the public electricity and heat produced (in kWh). The CO2 emissions data (TgCO2) is from the EEA dataviewer for greenhouse gases. The code is: 1A1a for Public Electricity and Heat production. The CO2 emissions data from for 1A1a is for all energy production from Public Electricity Generation, Public Combined Heat and Power and Public Heat Plants. The corresponding activity (ktoe, kiloton of oil equivalent) data isfrom the Eurostat database:
  • Transformation output - Main Activity Conventional Thermal Power Stations; Electrical Energy; nrg_110a, 6000_B101121;
  • Transformation output - Main Activity Conventional Thermal Power Stations; Derived Heat; nrg_110a, 5200_B101121;
  • Transformation output - District Heating Plants; Derived heat; nrg_100a; 5200_B101109.

Qualitative information

Overall scoring – historic data (1 = no major problems. 3 = major reservations):

  • Relevance: 1
  • Accuracy: 1
  • Comparability over time: 1
  • Comparability over space: 1

Methodology for gap filling

No gap filling procedure has been applied.

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

Data specifications

EEA data references

  • No datasets have been specified here.

Data sources in latest figures

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

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 on the Eurostat web page for metadata on energy statistics: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/energy/methodology.

Rationale uncertainty

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 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 counted where electricity is produced, whereas consumption is counted where electricity is consumed.

Further work

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.

General metadata

Responsibility and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Mihai Florin Tomescu

Ownership

European Environment Agency (EEA)

Identification

Indicator code
ENER 038
Specification
Version id: 2
Primary theme: Energy Energy

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year

Classification

DPSIR: Driving force
Typology: Efficiency indicator (Type C - Are we improving?)

Related content

Data references used

Data used

Latest figures and vizualizations

Relevant policy documents

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