Overview of the European energy system
The EU-28 is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels, but it is decarbonising. Fossil fuels (gas, solid fuels and oil) accounted for 73.8% of the total gross inland energy consumption in 2013 (83% in 1990), while renewables accounted for just 11.8%. Between 1990 and 2013, the share of fossil fuels in the total gross inland energy consumption of the EU-28 decreased at an annual rate of 0.4% per year (0.6% per year between 2005 and 2013).
The efficiency of conventional thermal power plants has also improved from 42.2% in 1990 to 48% in 2013. In 2013, only 72.3% of the total gross inland energy consumption in the EU-28 reached the end users. Between 1990 and 2013, energy losses in transformation and distribution were about 27.7% of total gross inland energy consumption and did not show a significant trend.
The EU-28 is increasingly relying on imported fossil fuels from non-EU countries. The share of net imported fossil fuels in total gross inland energy consumption increased from 44% in 1990 to 53.2% in 2013. The EU’s dependence on imports of fossil fuels from non-EU countries remained relatively stable between 2005 and 2013. In 2013, 58% of total net imports was oil, 28% gas and 14% solid fuels.
Is the European energy system becoming more efficient?
The overall picture of the energy system
Note: This Sankey diagram shows the composition of the primary energy entering the energy system of the EU-28 in 2013, and where this primary energy was used, either as losses or as consumption by specific sectors of the economy. The units are million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe).
- Energy balance sheets provided by Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat)
Conversion, transmission and distribution losses in the European energy production system
- Public thermal power plants in the EU-28 had a net efficiency of 48% in 2013. The efficiency of electricity and heat production in public conventional thermal power plants in the EU-28 improved from 42.2% in 1990 to 48% in 2013. In the non-EU EEA countries, this efficiency improved from 34.7% in 1990 to 44.4% in 2013. Between 2005 and 2013, the efficiency of public conventional thermal power plants more or less stabilised in both the EU-28 and the non-EU EEA countries.
- Transformation losses represented 21.3% of EU-28 gross inland energy consumption in 2013. In addition to generation efficiency, these losses are also influenced by 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.
- The efficiency of the energy system (the ratio of final energy consumption to primary energy available for end users) varies considerably across Member States. Energy available for final consumption ranges from 96% for Luxembourg to 45.5% for Estonia. 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 comes from high efficiency gas-fired power plants with the remaining demand covered by hydro and other renewables. In Estonia, on the other hand, the main technologies used for power generation are low efficiency steam technology thermal power plants running primarily on oil-shale, which explains why more than 50% of the primary energy is lost.
- Losses from distribution in the EU-28 are 1.6% of the gross inland energy consumption. Distribution losses include losses in gas and heat distribution, in electricity transmission and distribution, and in coal transport. Although on average distribution losses are small, they are subject to sizeable variations between Member States (from 0.2% for Luxembourg to 4.5% for Denmark). 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 the population density of the country. Systems are more efficient when power lines to large consumers are as direct as possible to reduce the number of transformation steps (as these can account for almost half of the network losses - Leonardo Energy, 2008). Increasing use of distributed generation may be one way to reduce such losses.
 If the municipal waste is used for direct production of heat (or in CHP plants), the efficiency can be as high as around 90%. However, if the waste is used only for electricity production, the efficiency is only about 30%. However, these plants are valued primarily because they offer an alternative to waste disposal so efficiency is not the main goal.
 In the statistics recorded by Eurostat, the ratio of primary energy to electricity production from nuclear is fixed at 1/3.
Is the European energy system decarbonising?
Energy mix in gross inland consumption and conventional power plants
- The share of fossil fuels (coal, lignite, oil and natural gas) in the gross inland energy consumption of the EU-28 declined slightly from 83% in 1990 to 73.8% in 2013. During this period, the share of renewables in gross inland consumption increased by 7.5 percentage points, from 4.3% in 1990 to 11.8% in 2013 (see also ENER 026), while the share of energy consumption from nuclear increased from 12.3% (1990) to 13.6% (2013).
- In the EU-28, between 2005 and 2013 the primary energy consumption of total petroleum products decreased 2.5% per year, while that of solid fuels and gas decreased by 1.3% and 1.7% per year, respectively. Over the same period, the primary energy consumption of renewable energies increased by 6.6% per year. More recent trends show that the decarbonisation of the European energy system is continuing. Between 2012 and 2013, the primary energy consumption of fossil fuels in the EU-28 decreased by 2.4%, while that of coal decreased by 2.2%, gas by 1.7% and nuclear by 0.6%, whereas the gross inland consumption of renewables increased by 5.3% (see also ENER 026).
- For the non-EU EEA Member States (Turkey and Norway), the gross inland energy consumption increased rapidly between 1990 and 2013 (by 107% or 3.2% per year on average), due mainly to an increase in Turkey (3.6% per year). The growth did not stop around 2005 as was observed in the EU. In Turkey, the consumption decreased in 2009 with the economic crisis (-0.2%) followed by increases of 2.7%/year since 2010.
 Data for Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland is not available.
Are imports of fossil fuels decreasing?
Fossil fuel import dependency
- Secure access to energy is vital for the functioning of the economy. In scientific literature, many different definitions of energy security have been proposed, and many indicators have been developed to quantify energy security (e.g., Grubb et al., 2006). Reducing import dependence is often considered as relevant for improving energy security. Dependence on imported energy may pose a risk to economic sectors, particularly in case these energy imports are from only a few countries. In general, the possibility of switching between energy carriers is very limited in many sectors, particularly over short timescales. In the past, various oil crises have demonstrated the vulnerability of the transport sector to oil. In response, members of the International Energy Agency must have a strategic petroleum reserve equal to 90 days of the previous year's net oil imports for their respective country to cope with supply discontinuities. More recently, threats to the supply of gas (via pipelines) have prompted investments in liquefied natural gas terminals across Europe. Gas is particularly important for the supply of heat to the residential sector, services and industry. Electricity production can switch more easily between fuels (e.g. between coal and gas).
- The EU’s energy system remains highly dependent on imported fossil fuels (see ENER 026). The EU’s dependence on imports of fossil fuels (gas, solid fuels and oil) from non-EU countries remained stable between 2005 and 2013, at around 53% (as a share of total gross inland energy consumption) (see Figure 2). The EU-28 relies much more now on imported fuels, compared with 1990 when only 44% of the gross inland consumption of all energy products was from imported fossil fuels. About 75% of the increase in net import between 1990 and 2013 arises as a result of the increase in imported gas.
- In 2013, net oil imports accounted for 87.4% of oil-based gross inland consumption plus bunkers, the majority of the imported oil is crude oil which is then refined in the EU (Figure 1). For gas, 65.3% of gas-based gross inland consumption was from net imports. Reliance on imports is lower for solid fuels but still significant. In 2013, 44.2% of solid-fuel based gross inland consumption came from net imports.
- Imports of petroleum products accounted for 58% of total net fossil fuel imports in 2013, followed by gas and solid fuels, which accounted for 28% and 14% of total fossil fuel imports respectively. The share of oil as a percentage of total fossil fuels imported has fallen since 1990, when it accounted for 71%. This is also due to a steep increase in the net import of gas resulting from increased demand from the electricity generation sector (see ENER 038).
- In addition to fossil fuels, Europe imports uranium for its nuclear power industry, which in 2013, accounted for about 38% of the world's civil nuclear power generation. The EU industry has the capacity to carry out uranium enrichment and fuel fabrication, but is dependent on imported uranium. In 2013, 27% of uranium delivered to utilities in the EU-28 originated from Russia, 17% from Canada, 13% from Niger, 12% from Australia and another 12% from Kazakhstan (Euratom, 2013).
- Imports of solid biomass in the EU-28 are small. In 2013, net imports of solid biomass amounted to 3.3% as a share of the total primary solid biomass consumption and 0.2% as share of all energy products imports.
Indicator specification and metadata
Energy efficiency of conventional thermal electricity production
Output from conventional thermal power stations consists of gross electricity generation and any heat sold to third parties (combined heat and power plants) by both conventional thermal public utility power stations and autoproducer thermal power stations. The energy efficiency of conventional thermal electricity production (which includes both public plants and autoproducers) is defined as the ratio of electricity and heat production to the energy input as fuel. Fuels include solid fuels (i.e. coal, lignite and equivalents, oil and other liquid hydrocarbons, gas, thermal renewables (industrial and municipal waste, wood waste, biogas and geothermal energy) and other non-renewable waste.
Energy losses in transformation and distribution
Numerator: The share of energy losses is the sum of the the energy industry's own consumption, with distribution and transformation losses (the difference between transformation input and output). Denominator: Numerator plus final energy available for final consumption in primary energy.
EU-28 share of primary energy by fuel type and share of final energy consumption by sector
Total energy consumption or gross inland energy consumption represents the quantity of energy necessary to satisfy the inland consumption of a country. It is calculated as the sum of the gross inland consumption of energy from solid fuels, oil, gas, nuclear and renewable sources, and a small component of ‘other’ sources (industrial waste and net imports of electricity). The relative contribution of a specific fuel is measured by the ratio between the energy consumption originating from that specific fuel and the total gross inland energy consumption calculated for a calendar year.
Energy efficiency of conventional thermal electricity production
Fuel input and electrical and heat output are measured in thousand tonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe). Efficiency is measured as the ratio of fuel output to input (%).
EU-28 share of primary energy by fuel type and, share of final energy consumption by sector
Energy consumption is measured in thousand tonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe). The share of each fuel in the total energy consumption is presented in the form of a percentage.
Policy context and targets
Overview of the energy system in 2013
- The EU-28 is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels (see ENER 026). In 2013, fossil fuels accounted for 73.8% of gross inland energy consumption, whereas renewables accounted for just 11.8%.
- In 2013, only 72.3% of the total gross inland energy consumption in the EU-28 reached end users. Distribution, the energy sector’s own consumption of energy and other conversion losses represented 27.7% of the total gross inland energy consumption in the EU-28, of which 4.8% resulted from energy consumption by the energy sector.
- The average energy efficiency of electricity and heat production from conventional thermal power stations and district heating plants in the EU-28 reached 50.5% in 2013. During the transformation of energy carriers into electricity in power stations, 55.6% of fuel input is lost as conversion losses. Conversion losses are declining in the EU-28 as power station efficiencies and electricity generation from renewables and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) increase (see also ENER 019 and ENER 038). About 25% of electricity was generated from CHP.
- A high proportion of the fossil fuels used in the EU-28 in 2013 were imported from outside the EU. Net import accounted for 87.4%, 65.3% and 44.2% of the gross inland consumption of oil, gas and solid fuels respectively (excluding bunkers).
- Nuclear heat accounts for 45.5% of transformational input into power stations (excluding CHP and district heating), followed by solid fuels (29%), renewables (16.4%) and natural gas (9%).
- Industries consumed the highest amount of electricity, followed by the domestic sector and other final consumers (including the services sector). The largest consumer of natural gas in 2013 was the domestic sector (110.5 Mtoe), followed by industries (83.2 Mtoe) (see ENER 016) whereas for coal, the largest consumers were electricity generation plants (power stations and CHPs). Coal and gas are also input fuels for other transformation plants which produce manufactured fuels.
Transformation and distribution losses - 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). The magnitude of these losses is an important indication of the overall environmental impact of the energy system (e.g. greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, environmental impacts associated with upstream activities of resource extraction). 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. In 2013, 73.8% of the gross inland consumption in the European Union came from fossil fuels (see ENER026). Because Europe imports large amounts of fossil fuels to meet its final energy demand, a significant part of the environmental impact associated with resource extraction remains outside the realm of European policy.
Efficiency of conventional thermal electricity and heat production - This indicator shows the efficiency of electricity and heat production from conventional thermal plants. The efficiency of electricity and heat production is an important factor since losses in transformation account for a substantial part of the primary energy consumption. Higher production efficiency therefore results in substantial reductions in primary energy consumption, and hence the reduction of environmental pressures due to the avoidance of energy production. However, the overall environmental impact has to be seen in the context of the type of fuel and the extent to which abatement technologies are used.
Compliance with environmental legislation (for example the Large Combustion Plant Directive 2001/80/EC, the CARE package, etc.) requires the application of a series of abatement technologies (e.g. to reduce SO2 emissions requires retrofitting the plant with flue-gas desulphurisation technology, carbon capture and storage to capture CO2 emissions, etc.) increasing the energy consumption of the plant, thus reducing its efficiency. This is why it is important to promote highly efficient generation units, such as IGCC (Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle).
Gross Inland Energy Consumption by Fuel and Sector - The level, structure and evolution of total gross inland energy consumption provide an indication of the extent to which environmental pressures caused by energy production and consumption are likely to diminish or not. This indicator displays data disaggregated by fuel type and sector, since the associated environmental impacts are fuel-specific, and provides an indication of the associated environmental impacts by the different end-use sectors (transport, industry, services and households).
The consumption of fossil fuels (such as crude oil, oil products, hard coal, lignite and natural and derived gas) provides a proxy indicator for resource depletion, CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution levels (e.g. SO2 and NOX), water pollution and biodiversity loss. The degree of environmental impact depends on the relative share of different fossil fuels and the extent to which pollution abatement measures are used. Natural gas, for instance, has approximately 40% less carbon per unit of energy content than coal, and 25% less carbon content than oil, and contains only marginal quantities of sulphur.
The level of nuclear energy consumption provides an indication of the trends in the amount of nuclear waste generated and of the risks associated with radioactive leaks and accidents. Increasing the consumption of nuclear energy at the expense of fossil fuels would, on the other hand, contribute to reductions in CO2 emissions.
Renewable energy consumption is a measure of the contribution from technologies that are, in general, more environmentally benign, as they produce no (or very little) net CO2 and, usually, significantly lower levels of other pollutants. Renewable energy can, however, have impacts on landscapes and ecosystems (for example, potential flooding and changed water levels from large hydro power) and the incineration of municipal waste (which is generally made up of both renewable and non-renewable material) may also generate local air pollution.
The efficiency with which electricity is produced also determines the scale of the environmental impacts of electricity production and consumption, as it determines the amount of input fuel required to generate a given quantity of electricity.
The impact also depends upon the total amount of electricity demanded and, hence, the level of electricity production required. Therefor, 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.
Fossil fuel import dependency - The environmental impact and fuel import dependency are linked via the fuel mix used to deliver energy services, the level of demand for these services and the form with which these fuels and energy services have to be delivered (e.g. pipeline infrastructure vs. shipping, centralised vs. decentralised energy system, etc.) The level of net imports is determined by several factors including economic issues, the evolution of final energy demand (see ENER 016), the efficiency of the energy system, in particular, of electricity transformation (see ENER 019). It is also strongly affected by the level of indigenous supply as well as the development of alternatives such as renewables. In addition, the need to import fuels also depends on the end-use efficiency (e.g. measures in the transport and buildings sectors are expected to yield significant benefits in this respect (TERM 027)). The environmental pressures associated with energy production will change depending on the fuel mix used.
Current European pricing mechanisms for transmission and distribution services do not necessarily directly target improvements in the efficiency of these networks. However, there are a number of policy initiatives aimed at increasing transformation efficiency (listed below). Some of the policies below are also linked to the other key policy questions in this factsheet.
- Energy Union Package COM(2015) 80 final on 25 February 2015. The Energy Union Package establishes a Framework Strategy for a Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Policy. It includes a road map, which sets actions for: SoS: Security of Supply/IEM: Internal Energy Market/EE: Energy Efficiency/GHG: Greenhouse gases/R&I: Research and Innovation.
- Directive 2012/27/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on energy efficiency, amending Directives 2009/125/EC and 2010/30/EU establishes a common framework of measures for the promotion of energy efficiency within the European Union in order to ensure the achievement of the Union’s 2020 20% headline target on energy efficiency and to pave the way for further energy efficiency improvements beyond that date.
- Under the Energy Efficiency Directive countries must draw up National Energy Efficiency Action Plans (NEEAPs) to set out estimated energy consumption, planned energy efficiency measures and the improvements individual EU countries expect to achieve. They must draw up these plans every three years. They must also provide annual reports. Guidance for National Energy Efficiency Action Plans [SWD(2013) 180 final.
- Energy 2020 – A strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy (COM(2010) 639 final). Energy efficiency is the first of the five priorities of the new energy strategy defined by the Commission.
- The EU Action Plan for Energy Efficiency (COM (2006)545 final) 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, 2007).
- The 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 (EC, 2009) includes the following main policy documents:
- Directive 2009/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the geological storage of carbon dioxide.
- Directive 2009/30/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 98/70/EC as regards the specification of petrol, diesel and gas-oil, and introducing a requirement that fuel suppliers reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of energy supplied for road transport (Low Carbon Fuel Standard).
- 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 2009/28/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources, and amending and subsequently repealing Directives 2001/77/EC and 2003/30/EC, sets an indicative target of 21% of renewable electricity in gross electricity consumption in 2010 at EU level. Fulfilling this target will also help to meet the new, mandatory target of 20% renewables in final energy consumption in 2020 set by Directive 2009/28/EC.
- Communication from the Commission; COM(2012) 271 - Renewable Energy: a major player in the European energy market.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Directive 2010/75/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 on industrial emissions (and control) is a European Union directive, which commits European Union Member States to control and reduce the impact of industrial emissions on the environment.
- The Industrial Emission Directive was adopted by the European Parliament on 7 July 2010 and entered into force on 6 January 2011, and has to be transposed into national legislation by Member States by 7 January 2013. It recasts seven existing Directives related to industrial emissions 78/176/EEC, 82/883/EEC, 92/112/EEC, 96/61/EC, 1999/13/EC, 2000/76/EC, 2008/1/EC, and 2001/80/EC (it includes 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 a switch to cheaper and more efficient technologies.
- Communication from the Commission; COM(2008) 771 final. The main objectives of this communication are to report on the current status of combined heat and power generation (CHP or cogeneration) and to present possibilities for its development.
- Detailed guidelines for the implementation and application of Annex II to Directive 2004/8/EC; 2008/952/EC. Guidelines for the calculation of the electricity from high-efficiency cogeneration.
- Regulation (EC) no 510/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council setting emissions performance standards for new light commercial vehicles as part of the Union's integrated approach to reducing CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles.
- Action Plan for Energy Efficiency: Realising the Potential (COM(2006) 545). The Commission will develop minimum binding energy efficiency requirements for electricity generation facilities, heating and cooling for facilities operating with less than 20 megawatts of power, and possibly for more powerful facilities too.
- Second Strategic Energy Review; COM(2008) 781 final (EC, 2008a): Strategic review on short, medium and long term targets on EU energy security. It is aimed at building energy solidarity among Member States. In July 2009, there was a follow-up where new rules were elaborated to improve the security of gas supplies in the framework of the internal gas market and to increase transparency of investments in infrastructure.
- A roadmap for the move to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050 (COM(2011) 112 final) presents actions in line with an 80-95% greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2050.
- Energy Efficiency Plan 2011 (COM (2011) 109 final) proposes additional measures to achieve the 20% primary energy saving target by 2020.
- Eco-Design Directive; COM(2008) 778 final/2 Directive on intensification of existing regulation on energy-efficiency of products.
- Energy 2020 – A strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy (COM(2010) 639 final): Energy efficiency is the first of the five priorities of the new energy strategy defined by the Commission.
- Energy Performance Buildings Directive; Directive 2002/91/EC. The Member States must apply minimum requirements as regards the energy performance of new and existing buildings, ensure the certification of their energy performance and require the regular inspection of boilers and air conditioning systems in buildings.
- Energy Performance Buildings Directive (recast); Directive 2010/31/EU strengthens the energy performance requirements of the 2002 Directive.
- Directive on greenhouse gas emissions of fuels and biofuels; COM(2007) 18 final/2 sets targets for the greenhouse gas emissions from different fuel types (e.g. by improving refinery technologies) and allows the blending of up to 10% of biofuels into diesel and petrol.
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 a 20% reduction in primary energy consumption. Member States are requested to set indicative targets. It is up to the Member states whether they base their targets on primary energy consumption, final energy consumption, primary or final energy savings or energy intensity. Some of the mandatory measures included in the directive can be implemented through improvements in transformation efficiency.
Directive 2009/28/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources establishes a mandatory target of a 20% share of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption. This indicator does not directly monitor progress towards these targets but provides a quick snap-shot of the situation in Europe on these issues.
Related policy documents
Energy Performance Buildings Directive
Directives concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity
Directives concerning common rules for the internal market in gas
Detailed guidelines for the implementation and application of Annex II to Directive 2004/8/EC
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.
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.
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.
Action Plan for Energy Efficiency
COM(2007) 18 final
Directive on GHG emissions of fuels and biofuels; COM(2007) 18 final/2
Europe can save more energy by combined heat and power generation
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
COM(2011) 109 final: Energy Efficiency Plan 2011
Energy Efficiency Plan 2011
COM(2012) 271 final
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: “Renewable Energy : a major player in the European energy market”
COM(2015) 80 final
Energy Union Package, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions and the European Investment Bank "A Framework Strategy for a Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy", COM(2015) 80 final, 25 February 2015. Energy Union Package establishes a Framework Strategy for a Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Policy. It includes a road map which sets actions for: SoS: Security of Supply / IEM: Internal Energy Market / EE: Energy Efficiency / GHG: Greenhouse gases / R&I: Research and Innovation.
Commission Implementing Decision of 22 May 2013 establishing a template for National Energy Efficiency Action Plans under Directive 2012/27/EU
Commission Implementing Decision of 22 May 2013 (notified under document C(2013) 2882; 2013/242/EU), establishing a template for National Energy Efficiency Action Plans under Directive 2012/27/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council. Text with EEA relevance (2013/242/EU)
Directive 2001/80/EC, large combustion plants
Directive 2001/80/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2001 on the limitation of emissions of certain pollutants into the air from large combustion plants
DIRECTIVE 2004/8/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 11 February 2004 on the promotion of cogeneration based on a useful heat demand in the internal energy market and amending Directive 92/42/EEC
The directive is relatefd to energy end-use efficiency and energy services and repeals Council Directive 93/76/EEC
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
DIRECTIVE 2009/30/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 23 April 2009 amending Directive 98/70/EC as regards the specification of petrol, diesel and gas-oil and introducing a mechanism to monitor and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and amending Council Directive 1999/32/EC as regards the specification of fuel used by inland waterway vessels and repealing Directive 93/12/EEC
DIRECTIVE 2010/31/EU - Energy performance of buildings directive
DIRECTIVE 2010/31/EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 19 May 2010 on the energy performance of buildings(recast)
DIRECTIVE 2012/27/EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 25 October 2012 on energy efficiency, amending Directives 2009/125/EC and 2010/30/EU and repealing Directives 2004/8/EC and 2006/32/EC
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.
REGULATION (EU) No 510/2011
REGULATION (EU) No 510/2011 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL setting emission performance standards for new light commercial vehicles as part of the Union's integrated approach to reduce CO 2 emissions from light-duty vehicles
Methodology for indicator calculation
Methodology and assumptions used for the Sankey diagram
The Sankey diagram shows the key energy flows (in million tonnes of oil equivalent) for the EU-28 based on Eurostat data (Figure 1). The left side of the diagram shows the gross inland consumption with the net amount of energy imported compared with that produced indigenously. The diagram then shows energy conversion of primary energy to secondary energies; heat, electricity and manufactured fuels, through transformation plants (power stations, district heating, CHP, oil refineries and other transformation plants) and the associated conversion losses. The right hand side of the diagram shows the final mix of energy consumption by different EU-28 energy users (including: industry, transport, domestic, other final consumers and non-energy use). Note that renewables in transport for ENER 036 include all biofuels whether sustainable or not. Only a proportion of the primary energy entering the energy system of a country flows through to the end user for consumption. There are various diversions and losses incurred before energy reaches the final consumer due to distribution losses and use in the energy sector. The Sankey diagram is useful in capturing the situation in a certain year but other indicators are needed to show the change in energy use over time.
The largest sources of loss are the conversion losses, where a proportion of the chemical energy in the fuel is not embodied in the power or heat leaving the generating plant, but is lost as unused waste heat. However, even before fuel is combusted for the generation of power and heat, some of it is diverted for non-energy purposes, for example the use of natural gas as a chemical feed stock in the chemical industry (non-energy purposes). Moreover, once generated, some of the power and heat is consumed by the plant operator for the purpose of running auxiliary equipment (consumption of the energy sector), and yet further down the energy supply chain some power or heat is lost as it is distributed to the end user (distribution losses) (both the energy industry's own use and distribution losses are shown in a single flow in Figure 1).
The Sankey diagram has been prepared using the data available from Eurostat. Figures can be extracted from the Eurostat Energy Balances Sheets for all EU-28 countries. The EU-28 data for Figure 1 (Sankey diagram) and Figure 2 have been derived from the following datasets with annual statistics for the supply, transformation and consumption of:
- all products [nrg_100a],
- oil [nrg_102a],
- gas [nrg_103a],
- electricity [nrg_105a],
- heat [nrg_106a],
- renewable energies [nrg_107a].
For each of the fossil fuels, the supply consists of:
- Indigenous production; and
- Net imports, i.e. imports minus exports
The overall fuel supply for each fuel is then also affected by:
- Stock change (can be negative); and
- Recovered products (from other sources);
- Exchanges and transfers, returns
The following are subtracted from overall supply:
- Direct use; and
- International bunkers
The final consumers are split into the following:
- Non-energy consumption,
- Other final consumers (other sectors except domestic),
- Distribution losses plus consumption of the energy branch.
- Transformation input
There are five transformations included in the diagram. The inputs in the following five transformations are:
Input into CHP is equal = ∑ Transformation input into CHP (gas, solid fuels, all petroleum products, renewable energies)
- Power stations
Input into power stations = ∑ transformation input into power stations (gas, solid fuels, total petroleum products, nuclear, renewable energies) - ∑ transformation input into CHPs (gas, solid fuels, all petroleum products, renewable energies)
- District Heating
Input into district heating plants = ∑ transformation input into district heating (gas, solid fuels, all petroleum products, renewables energies)
Input into refineries = Net crude oil import + indigenous production of crude oil – direct use + stock change + recovered products + exchanges and transfers, returns
The above are all of crude oil, feedstocks and other hydrocarbons, nrg_102a, product code: 3100.
- Other transformation plants
Input into other transformation plants = ∑ transformation input into other transformation (gas, solid fuels, all petroleum products)
- Transformation output
The outputs from the above five transformations are calculated as follows:
Output from CHP = ∑ transformation output from CHP (heat, electricity)
- Power stations
Output from power stations = ∑ Transformation output from power stations (heat, electricity) - ∑ Transformation output from CHP (heat, electricity)
- District heating
Output from district heating plants = Transformation output from district heating
Output from refineries = Transformation output from refineries + Exchanges and transfers, returns
The amount of all petroleum products available for consumption also includes net import of all petroleum products.
- Other transformation plants
Output from other transformation plants = ∑ transformation output from other transformations (derived gases, coke, brown coal briquettes)
- Conversion losses
Conversion losses for transformation plants = transformation input – transformation output
- Secondary energy
The transformation processes produce secondary fuels/energies (transformation output) in the Sankey diagram, namely electricity, heat and manufactured fuels (derived gases, petroleum products, coke and brown coal briquettes). Secondary energies are allocated to end-user consumer categories (point 2.) in the same way as primary energy inputs and the supply of secondary energies are also affected in the same way as primary energy inputs (point 1). It should be noted that the transformation output of manufactured fuels from other transformations is not consistent with the manufactured fuels consumed by end-users. This is because a proportion of manufactured fuels are consequently used as input for further transformation (e.g. CHP), which is not captured in the Sankey diagram. Manufactured fuels consumed by another transformation plant after the fuel transformations are included as part of the input of gas, solid fuels and all petroleum products into these transformation plants. As a result the input and output from the other transformation plants box do not balance.
Geographical coverage: EU-28 plus Norway, Turkey and Iceland.
The EEA had 33 member countries at the time of writing of this fact sheet. These are the 28 European Union Member States and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey. Where Eurostat data was not available, the data is not included in this factsheet.
Methodology and frequency of data collection:
Data collected annually.
Eurostat definitions and concepts for energy statistics http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/energy/methodology
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-28, this data is compiled by the EEA in the European greenhouse gas inventory report:
Methodology of data manipulation:
Figure 1 – Energy flow in the EU-28. Methodology and assumptions used for the Sankey diagram found earlier in this factsheet.
Figure 2 - EU-28 net imports by fuel.
The coding (used in the Eurostat database) and specific components of the indicator are:
[Imports - solid fuels – 2000] + [Imports – oil (Total petroleum products) - 3000] + [Imports – Natural gas - 4100] - Exports (excluding EU-28 countries) for the same fuel
Gross inland energy consumption (GIEC) 100900 (tonnes of oil equivalent) + Marine International Bunkers 100800 (tonnes of oil equivalent).
For the separate product indicators the numerators/denominators are, respectively: solid fuels, total petroleum products and natural gas.
Overall scoring – historic data (1 = no major problems, 3 = major reservations):
- Relevance: 1
- Accuracy: 1/2
- Comparability over time: 1/2
- Comparability over space: 1/2
Methodology for gap filling
No gap filling methodology was applied for this indicator.
No methodology references available.
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://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/cache/metadata/en/nrg_quant_esms.htm and http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/cache/metadata/en/nrg_indic_esms.htm. See also information related to the Energy Statistics Regulation https://www.energy-community.org/portal/page/portal/ENC_HOME/DOCS/2382177/Regulation147-2013.pdf.
CO2 emissions data is officially reported following agreed procedures. e.g. regarding the source/sector split under the EU Monitoring Mechanism Decision No 280/2004/EC.
Data sets uncertainty
Imports/exports represent all entries into/out of the national territory excluding transit quantities (notably via gas and oil pipelines). However, data on imports is generally taken from importer/exporter declarations; accordingly, they may differ from the data collected by the customs authorities and that included in foreign-trade statistics.
In the case of crude oil and petroleum products, imports represent the quantities delivered to the national territory and, in particular, those quantities:
(i) destined for treatment on behalf of foreign countries;
(ii) only imported on a temporary basis;
(iii) imported and deposited in uncleared bonded warehouses;
(iv) imported and placed in special warehouses on behalf of foreign countries;
(v) imported from overseas regions and/or territories under national sovereignty.
Similarly, for exports those quantities:
(i) destined for treatment in other countries;
(ii) only exported on a temporary basis;
(iii) exported and deposited in uncleared bonded warehouses;
(iv) exported and placed in special warehouses in foreign countries;
(v) exported to overseas regions and/or territories under national sovereignty;
(vi) re-exported after treatment or transformation;
(vii) supplied to national or foreign troops stationed abroad (in so far as secrecy permits this).
The efficiency of electricity production is calculated as the ratio of electricity output to total fuel input. However, the input to conventional thermal power plants cannot be disaggregated into separate inputs for heat and for electricity production. Therefore the efficiency rate of electricity and heat production equals the ratio of both electricity and heat production to fuel input, which assumes there is an efficiency rate for heat production. Also, electricity data (unlike that for overall energy consumption) for 1990 refers to the western part of Germany only, so there is a break in the series from 1990-1992.
The share of energy consumption for a particular fuel could decrease even though the actual amount of energy used from that fuel grows, as the development of the share for a particular fuel depends on the change in its consumption relative to the total consumption of energy.
From an environmental point of view, however, the relative contribution of each fuel has to be put in a wider context. Absolute (as opposed to relative) volumes of energy consumption for each fuel are the key to understanding environmental pressures. These depend on the total amount of energy consumption as well as on the fuel mix used and the extent to which pollution abatement technologies are used.
Total energy consumption may not accurately represent the energy needs of a country (in terms of final energy demand). Fuel switching may, in some cases, have a significant effect in changing total energy consumption even though there is no change in (final) energy demand. This is because different fuels and different technologies convert primary energy into useful energy with different efficiency rates.
The estimate of imported/domestic CO2 emissions uses an average EU-28 Implied Emission Factor (tCO2/TJ) for solid, liquid and gaseous fuels.
The IPCC believes that the uncertainty in CO2 emissions estimates from fuel use in Europe is likely to be less than ± 5%. Total greenhouse gas emissions trends are likely to be more accurate than the absolute emissions estimates for individual years. The IPCC suggests that the uncertainty in total greenhouse emissions trends is ± 4-5%. Uncertainty estimates were calculated for the EU-15 for the first time in the 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, therefore, 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.
Energy balance sheets
provided by Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat)
Energy statistics (Eurostat)
provided by Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat)
Energy (Primary topic)
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
- CSI 045
- ENER 036
Contacts and ownership
EEA Contact InfoAnca-Diana Barbu
EEA Management Plan2015 1.3.2 (note: EEA internal system)
Frequency of updates
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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