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Primary energy consumption by fuel (CSI 029/ENER 026) - Assessment published Apr 2008

Indicator Assessmentexpired Created 28 Nov 2007 Published 28 Apr 2008 Last modified 11 Mar 2014, 01:48 PM
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This content has been archived on 06 Nov 2013, reason: Other (Not currently being regularly updated)

Generic metadata


Energy Energy (Primary topic)

energy | csi
DPSIR: Driving force
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • CSI 029
  • ENER 026
Geographic coverage:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom

Key policy question: What are the trends concerning the energy mix in gross inland energy consumption Europe?

Key messages

Fossil fuels continue to dominate total energy consumption, but environmental pressures have been reduced, partly due to a significant switch from coal and lignite to relatively cleaner natural gas in the 1990s. The share of renewable energy sources remains small despite an increase in absolute terms. Overall, total primary energy consumption increased by an average of 0.6 % per annum during the period 1990-2005 (9.8 % overall) thus counteracting some of the environmental benefits from fuel switching.

Primary energy consumption by fuel (%) in 2005

Note: TOE refers to tonnes of oil equivalents

Data source:

European Environment Agency and Eurostat

Downloads and more info

Primary energy consumption by fuel in the EU-27, 1990-2005

Note: N/A

Data source:

European Environment Agency and Eurostat

Downloads and more info

Key assessment

Total primary energy consumption in the EU-27 increased by 9.8 % between 1990 and 2005. Over the same period, the share of fossil fuels, including coal, lignite, oil and natural gas, in primary energy consumption declined slightly from 83 % in 1990 to 79.0 % in 2005, although fossil fuel consumption increased in absolute terms (by more than 4 %). The use of fossil fuels has considerable impact on the environment and is the main cause of greenhouse gas emissions. Nevertheless, changes in the fossil fuel mix have brought environmental benefits. Overall, the share of coal has decreased and coal has been to some extent replaced by relatively cleaner natural gas. However, coal consumption has remained stable since 1999 and gas consumption continued increasing.

Most of the switching from coal to gas occurred in the power generation sector (but not exclusively). In the pre-2004 EU-15 Member States this was supported by implementation of environmental legislation and liberalisation of electricity markets, which stimulated the use of combined-cycle gas plants due to their high efficiency, low capital cost and low gas prices in the early 1990s, and by the expansion of the trans-EU gas network. Fuel mix changes in the new Member States were induced by the process of economic transformation, which led to changes in fuel prices, taxation, the removal of energy subsidies and introduction of policies to privatise and restructure the energy sector.

Oil accounted for around 37 % of primary energy consumption in 2005 and continues to be the major fuel in the transport sector. Consumption increased at an average annual rate of 0.4 % over the period 1990-2005, mainly as a result of increased demand for petrol and diesel in the transport sector, although this was tempered by a decline in the use of oil in other sectors, such as for power generation.

Renewable energy, which typically has lower environmental impacts than fossil fuels, has seen rapid growth in absolute terms, but from a low starting point. Renewables (together with natural gas) were the fastest growing energy source between 1990 and 2005,  but despite increased support at the EU and national level, their contribution to total 'primary' energy consumption remains low at just 6.7 % in 2005. The European Council of 8-9 March 2007 endorsed a binding target of a 20 % share of renewable energies in 'final' energy consumption by 2020. The renewables share in final energy consumption was about 8.5 % in 2005.

The share of nuclear power has remained stable over the last few years, accounting for 14 % of primary energy consumption in 2005. While nuclear power produces little atmospheric pollution during electricity production (although it generates thermic pollution) there is a risk of accidental radioactive releases, and highly radioactive wastes are accumulating for which no generally acceptable disposal route has yet been established.

Changes in the fuel mix have helped reducing otherwise higher greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in the production of heat and electricity. However, rising total primary energy consumption in absolute terms (0.6 % per year during 1990-2005) has counteracted some of the environmental benefits of the fuel switch.

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Anca-Diana Barbu


EEA Management Plan

2010 (note: EEA internal system)


Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year in October-December (Q4)
Filed under: ,


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