Primary energy consumption is defined as gross inland energy consumption minus the energy consumed for purposes other then producing useful energy (non-energy use). 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 primary energy consumption calculated for a calendar year.
Energy consumption is measured in thousand tonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe). The share of each fuel in total energy consumption is presented in the form of a percentage.
Policy context and targets
The level, the evolution as well as the structure of the primary energy consumption provide an indication of the extent environmental pressures caused by energy production and consumption are likely to diminish or not. This indicator displays data disaggregated by fuel type as the associated environmental impacts are fuel-specific.
The consumption of fossil fuels (such as crude oil, oil products, hard coal, lignite and natural and derived gas) leads to resource depletion and emissions of greenhouse gases as well as emissions of air pollutants (e.g. SO2 and NOX). This in turn has negative consequences for public health and biodiversity. 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 than coal per unit of energy content, and 25% less carbon content than oil, and contains only marginal quantities of sulphur.
Increasing consumption of nuclear energy at the expense of fossil fuels contributes to greenhouse gas emission reduction, but comes with safety and nuclear waste issues.
Renewable energy consumption are more environmentally benign, as the exploitation of renewables does not give rise to greenhouse gas emissions (except land-use change issues related to biomass and emissions related to the use of non-renewable energy during the construction of renewable energy installations). Renewables usually lead to significantly lower levels of air pollutants (except when related to biomass applications). Renewable energy can, however, have impacts on landscapes and ecosystems (for example, wind turbines severely impact the landscape and much land is needed for the production of biomass and may have impact on biodiversity).
- 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.
Sets, amongst others, targets for primary energy and final energy for the EU as a whole (Art. 3) and puts an obligation on member states to meet a 1.5% energy efficiency improvement per year between 2013-2020 (Art. 7).
- Council Directive 2013/12/EU of 13 May 2013 adapting Directive 2012/27/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on energy efficiency, by reason of the accession of the Republic of Croatia.
This revision of the Energy Efficiency Directive was necessary to account for the accession of Croatia to the EU.
- Communication from the commission to the European parliament and the council - European Energy Security Strategy, COM/2014/0330 final.
Describes the EU strategy to ensure that energy supplies are uninterrupted and energy prices remain stable.
- 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.
- Directive 2009/125/EC of the European parliament and of the council of 21 October 2009 establishing a framework for the setting of Ecodesign requirements for energy-related products
Establishes energy efficiency standards for various categories of products, such as dishwashers and refrigerators.
- Energy Efficiency Plan 2011 (COM(2011) 109 final)
Proposes additional measures to achieve the 20 % primary energy saving target by 2020.
- 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 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 package includes the following main policy documents :
- Directive 2009/29/EC of the European parliament and of the Council amending directive 2003/87/EC so as to improve and extend the greenhouse gas emission allowance trading scheme of the community
- Directive 2009/31/ECof the European parliament and of the Council on the geological storage of carbon dioxide
- Directive 2009/28/ECof the European parliament and of the Council on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources
- Directive 2008/101/ECof the European parliament and of the Council amending directive 2003/87/EC so as to include aviation activities in the scheme for greenhouse gas Emission allowance trading within the community
- Regulation (EC) no 443/2009 of the European parliament and of the Council setting emission performance standards for new passenger cars as part of the community’s integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles
- Regulation (EC) 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 CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles
- Large Combustion Plant Directive; Directive 2001/80/EC
Aims to control emissions of SO2, NOx and particulate matter from large combustion plants (> 50 MW).
- Directive 2010/75/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control)
Sets emission limits for industrial installations
- Second Strategic Energy Review; COM(2008) 781 final
Strategic review on short, medium and long term targets on EU energy security.
- Energy Performance Buildings Directive (recast); Directive 2010/31/EU
Strengthens the energy performance requirements of the 2002 Directive.
- Directive on GHG emissions of fuels and biofuels; COM(2007) 18 final/2
Sets targets for the GHG 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.
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 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.
Related policy documents
Energy Performance Buildings Directive
Directive 2008/101/ec of the European parliament and of the Council amending directive 2003/87/ec so as to include aviation activities in the scheme for greenhouse gas Emission allowance trading within the community
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.
Proposal for a Regulation 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
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(2007) 18 final
Directive on GHG emissions of fuels and biofuels; COM(2007) 18 final/2
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
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
The Directive establises a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy-using products and amends Council Directive 92/42/EEC and Directives 96/57/EC and 2000/55/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council
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 2010/31/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
EEA (2009) - Review and analysis of emissions' life cycle analysis studies in the field of conventional and renewable energy generation technologies
Copenhagen, EEA, February 2009
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.
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
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 the wider context. Absolute (as opposed to relative) volumes of energy consumption for each fuel are the key to understanding the 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.
Data sets uncertainty
Officially reported data, updated annually. No obvious weaknesses.
Data have been traditionally compiled by Eurostat through the annual Joint Questionnaires, shared by Eurostat and the International Energy Agency, following a well established and harmonised methodology. Methodological information on the annual Joint Questionnaires and data compilation can be found in Eurostat's web page for metadata on energy statistics.
The structure of the energy mix in gross inland energy consumption provides an indication of the environmental pressures associated with energy consumption. The type and magnitude of the environmental impacts associated with energy consumption, such as resource depletion, greenhouse gas emissions, air pollutant emissions, water pollution, accumulation of radioactive waste, etc., strongly depend on the type and amount of fuel consumed as well as abatement technologies applied.