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The share of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption in the EU28 reached 14.1% in 2012, representing 70% of the EU’s 20% renewable energy target for 2020. Renewable energy sources represented 15.6% of gross final energy consumption for heating and cooling, 23.5% of final electricity consumption and 5.1% of transport fuels consumption in 2012.
EEA-33 emissions of sulphur oxides (SO X ) have decreased by 74% between 1990 and 2011. In 2011, the most significant sectoral source of SO X emissions was 'Energy production and distribution' (58% of total emissions), followed by emissions occurring from 'Energy use in industry' (20%) and in the 'Commercial, institutional and households' (15%) sector.
The reduction in emissions since 1990 has been achieved as a result of a combination of measures, including fuel-switching in energy-related sectors away from high-sulphur solid and liquid fuels to low-sulphur fuels such as natural gas, the fitting of flue gas desulphurisation abatement technology in industrial facilities and the impact of European Union directives relating to the sulphur content of certain liquid fuels.
All of the EU-28 Member States have reduced their national SO X emissions below the level of the 2010 emission ceilings set in the National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD)  . Emissions in 2011 for the three EEA countries having emission ceilings set under the UNECE/CLRTAP Gothenburg protocol (Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) were also below the level of their respective 2010 ceilings.
Environmental context: Typically, Sulphur dioxide is emitted when fuels or other materials containing sulphur are combusted or oxidised. It is a pollutant which contributes to acid deposition which in turn can lead to changes occurring in soil and water quality. The subsequent impacts of acid deposition can be significant, including adverse effects on aquatic ecosystems in rivers and lakes and damage to forests, crops and other vegetation. SO 2 emissions also aggravate asthma conditions and can reduce lung function and inflame the respiratory tract, and contribute as a secondary particulate pollutant to formation of particulate matter in the atmosphere, an important air pollutant in terms of its adverse impact on human health. Furthermore, the formation of sulphate particles in the atmosphere after its release results in reflection of solar radiation, which leads to net cooling of the atmosphere.
 Emissions data reported by EU member states under NECD is used for comparison with NECD ceilings, and data reported under CLRTAP is used for all other calculations unless otherwise stated.
Between 1990 and 2007, annual transport energy consumption in the EEA member countries showed continual growth (38%). However, with the onset of the recession this trend reversed. Between 2007 and 2011, total energy demand in the transport sector declined by 6.5 %. The extrapolation for the year 2012 is based on the most recent estimates for a limited range of fuels. It suggests that the downward trend in transport energy consumption has continued through the year 2012 with a further 5% drop in energy consumption.
The shipping sector saw the greatest decline in energy consumption during the recession; bunkers dropped by 10 % between 2008 and 2009 alone. Energy use for aviation, rail transport and domestic navigation each fell by around 8% in 2011 compared to 2007. Road transport represents the largest energy consumer, accounting for 73 % of total demand in 2011. The road transport sector experienced a 5% drop in energy consumption between 2007 and 2011 – a slightly lower decline than the other sectors. However, despite recent changes, total transport energy consumption in 2011 was still almost 30% higher than in 1990. The amount of road diesel fuel compared to gasoline has also kept increasing and reached 70% in 2012.
The efficiency of electricity and heat production from conventional thermal power plants in EU-27countries improved between 1990 and 2010 by 5.8 percentage points (from 45.4% in 1990 to 51.2% in 2010). The non EU EEA countries (exl. Norway  ) show a similar trend with an improvement of 5.6 percentage points (from 45.2% in 1990 to 50.8% in 2010). Between 2005 and 2010, there was a decline in efficiency of electricity and heat production from conventional thermal power plants of 1.1 percentage points (from 52.3% in 2005 to 51.2% in 2010) in the EU-27 because of lower heat production similar to non-EU EEA countries where efficiency declined by 1.3% over the same period.
 Norway, displays efficiencies higher than 100% for thermal generation due to the extensive use of electric boilers for heat production. In the Eurostat statistics, the heat is included in the output, while the electricity input is not. For power plants the consumption of electricity is attributed to the energy sector while partly may be in fact used as input for heat. For these reasons, Norway was excluded from the calculations.
The EU27 is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels, and it accounts for 76.4 % of primary energy consumption whereas renewables accounted only for 9.8 %. The share of fossil fuels (coal, lignite, oil and natural gas) in gross inland consumption of the EU-27 declined slightly from 83.1 % in 1990 to 76.4 % in 2010.
The EU’s dependence on imports of fossil fuels (gas, solid fuels and oil)  from non-EU countries has remained relatively stable between 2005 and 2010. In 2010 EU-27 imported 53.8 % of its total gross inland energy consumption. Oil imports are the highest and accounted for 58.6 % of total GIEC, followed by gas then solid fuels which accounted for 28.8 % and 12.6 % of total GIEC.
In 2010 only 71.5 % of the total primary energy consumption in the EU-27 reached the end users. Between 1990 and 2010, energy losses in transformation and distribution have slowly declined from 29.2 % to 28.5 %.
The average energy efficiency of conventional thermal electricity and heat production of conventional thermal power stations and district heating plants in the EU-27 improved over the period 1990 and 2010 by 5.1 percentage points to reach 51.2% in 2010. The main increase was seen between 1990 and 2005 with an increase of 7.0 percentage points (from 45.4% in 1990 to 52.3% in 2005). The improvement until 2005 was due to the closure of old inefficient plants, improvements in existing technologies, often combined with a switch from coal power plants to more efficient combined cycle gas-turbines. Between 2005 and 2010, there was a slight fall in efficiency of electricity and heat production from conventional thermal power plants and district heating plants of 1.1 percentage points (from 52.3% in 2005 to 51.2% in 2010) because of lower heat production.
Overview of the energy system in 2010
In 2010 only 71.5 % of the total primary energy consumption in the EU-27 reached end users. Distribution, energy-sector’s own consumption of energy and conversion losses represented 28.5 % of which 5 % resulted from energy consumption by the energy sector.
The EU27 is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels (see ENER 26), and it accounts for 76.4 % of primary energy consumption whereas renewables accounted only for 9.8 %. It is interesting to see that over 65 % total petroleum products in the EU27 after transformation in refineries are those refined in the EU27 originating from indigenous production and imported crude oil, rather than imported petroleum products. Subsequently 340 Mtoe of these petroleum products are exported outside the EU27.
A high proportion of the fossil fuels used in the EU27 in 2010 were imported from outside the EU. Net import accounted for 91 %, 62 % and 39 % of gross inland consumptions of oil, gas and solid fuels.
The high dependency on oil arises as a result of high consumption in the transport sector which is still very dependent on petrol and diesel. Increasing concerns for climate change leading to policies shifting fuel use in the transport sector has led to electricity (15.1 Mtoe) and renewables (13.3 Mtoe) consumption in transport, but these are yet to make a significant contribution (see ENER 16). The other sector where oil is the most dominant fuel is in the non-energy use sector where oil is used for example as lubricants. On the other hand, oil only accounts for a small proportion of the transformation input into power stations  (ENER 38).
Nuclear heat accounts for 44.2 % of transformational input into power stations (excluding CHPs and district heating), followed by coal (24.9 %), natural gas (15.4 %) then renewables (13.5 %). In power stations, during the transformation of the energy into electricity, 58 % of fuel input is lost as conversion losses. Conversion losses are declining in the EU27 as power station efficiencies and electricity generation from renewables increases (see ENER 19 and 38). As for wind, hydro and solar PV, electricity is the primary energy form of energy so there are no associated conversion losses. The overall % of energy lost to conversion losses from electricity generation can also decrease if the % of electricity generated from CHPs increases. In 2010, conversion losses from CHPs were much less than power stations (33 %), just over 20 % of transformation output of electricity was from CHPs.
In terms of consumption, industries consumed the highest amount of electricity, but only slightly more than domestic and other final consumers (which includes services sector) (ENER 16). Following conversion losses in transformation plants, further losses of electricity occur from distribution and consumption in the energy industry which accounts for (41.2 Mtoe or 14.5 % of electricity available for consumption). In 2010, net import of electricity was minimal (0.3 Mtoe).
Conversion efficiencies of CHPs are higher than in power stations because the heat produced is also consumed as useful energy. In the EU27, heat is also generated from district heating plants in certain countries and the overall heat consumed from CHPs and district heating plants in 2010 was 62.8 Mtoe. Gas accounts for the highest proportion of fuel going into district heating plants (46 %).
The largest consumer of gas in 2010 was the domestic sector (119.0 Mtoe) followed by industries (84.7 Mtoe) (see ENER 16) whereas for coal, the largest consumers are electricity generation plants (power stations and CHPs). Coal and gas are also input fuels for other transformation plants which produce manufactured fuels.
 Definitions are provided in the meta data. The Gross Inland Energy Consumption does not include bunkers.
 See ‘Methodology and assumptions used for the Sankey diagram’ for definitions of components that make up power stations.
Over the period 1990-2010, energy efficiency increased by 20% in EU-27 countries at an annual average rate of 1.1%/year, driven by improvements in the industrial sector (1.7%/year) and households (1.6%/year).
Fossil fuels and nuclear energy continue to dominate the gross power generation mix in EU-27, with a respective share of 51% and 27.4% in 2010. The share of electricity generated from renewable sources is in rapid progression and reached 20.9% in 2010 (12.5% in 1990).
Final electricity consumption increased by 32% in the EU-27 since 1990 at an average annual growth of around 1.4% per year. In the EU-27, the strongest growth was observed in the services sector (3.3%/year), followed by households (1.7%/year) and industry (0.2/year). In non-EU EEA countries, the growth in electricity consumption was much more rapid and reached 3.1%/year, driven by the rapid growth in Turkey.
Between 1990 and 2010, the final energy consumption in the EU-27 increased by 7.1% (10.2% in EEA countries) at an annual average rate of 0.3% (0.5% for EEA countries).The final energy consumption in EU-27 decreased by 3.2% between 2005 and 2010 (2.1% in EEA countries). The services sector was the sector with the fastest growing energy consumption (41.4% over the period 1990-2010 and 12.2% over the period 2005-2010). Final energy consumption in the transport sector in 2010 was 29.8% higher than 1990 levels but the sector registered a 0.5 % fall in energy consumption between 2009 and 2010 despite signs of mild economic recovery. Over the same period (1990-2010), household final energy consumption increased by 12.4% while final consumption in industry fell by 20.5%. Overall, in the last year, final energy consumption in EU-27 increased, but still remained below the level in 2006 (the year where energy consumption peaked in Europe). On average, one person in the EEA countries used 2.2 tonnes of oil equivalent to meet their energy needs in 2010.
Total primary energy intensity in the EU-27 decreased by 1.5% per year from 1990 to 2010. In 2010, the total primary energy intensity in the EU-27 was 26% below the 1990 level.
In 2010, the economic growth of the EU-27 rebounded (+2.2% compared to 2009) and energy consumption increased even more rapidly (+3.3% compared to 2009). As a consequence, total primary energy intensity increased in 2010 for the first time since 2003 (+1.1%).
Over the period 2005-2010, the primary energy intensity decreased by 1.6%/year in the EU-27, but this includes the effect of the significant reduction in primary energy consumption and GDP during 2009.
In non-EU EEA countries, the primary energy intensity was in 2010 roughly at the same level as in 1990; however, between 2005 and 2010, the primary energy intensity increased by 1.5%/year in these countries.
Over the period 1990-2010, the EU-27 final energy intensity has decreased by 25% at an annual average rate of 1.4%/year. Since 2005, the reduction was slightly higher (1.5%/year), with a stronger decoupling in the agriculture and industrial sectors where the energy intensity has decreased by 2.6%/year and 2.1%/year respectively. In the service and transport sectors the final energy consumption intensities have decreased by 1.3%/year and 0.9%/year since 2005. In the household sector, the final energy consumption per capita was in 2010 almost at the same level as in 2005, as result of counterbalancing effects: larger and more numerous dwellings, greater ownership of electrical appliances on the one hand and energy efficiency improvements on the other hand. Over the period 1990-2010, the final energy intensity in non-EU EEA countries has decreased by 8.5% at an annual average growth rate of 0.4%/year.
The number of heating degree days (HDD) has decreased by an average of 16 per year since 1980. This helps reduce the demand for heating, particularly in northern and north-western Europe.
Climate change will affect future energy and electricity demand. Climate change is not expected to change total energy demand in Europe substantially across Europe, but there may be significant seasonal effects, with large regional differences.
The share of renewable energy sources in gross inland energy consumption (GIEC) increased in the EU-27 from 4.2% in 1990 to 9% in 2009. The main contributor is biomass and wastes (6.1% of the GIEC in 2009), followed by hydro (1.7%) and wind (0.7%). The gross inland energy consumption from renewable increased by 4.1%/year on average over the period 1990-2009 and by 7.1%/year from 2005 to 2009 (+5.8% in 2009). Despite the decrease of the gross energy inland consumption during the last years, the share of renewable continues to grow.
In 2009, the share of renewable energy in total gross inland energy consumption in EU-15 was 9%, hence a significant effort will be needed to meet the indicative target of 12 % share of renewables by 2010.
In non EU EEA countries the share of renewable in gross inland energy consumption reached 19.7% in 2009. The gross inland energy consumption increased by 2.5%/year since 1990, of which 1.1%/year for the renewable consumption. For the most recent years the gross inland energy consumption increased by 3%/year, of which 1.6%/year for the renewable consumption
In 2009, the share of renewable electricity in gross electricity consumption in the EU-27 was 19.8 % compared to 13% in 1990. Renewable electricity grew by 3.3%/year since 1990 Hydropower accounts for 62% in renewable electricity production, following by wind 20.9%, biomass and wastes 14.3%,2.2% for photovoltaic and 1% geothermal. Despite good progress, only four countries have already met the indicative national target for the renewable electricity directive and three are very close, meaning that much more needs to be done in individual countries to achieve their targets by 2010. As a whole however, the EU is close to meeting its target. A simple forecast based on the trend to date would mean the EU would reach 20% energy generation from renewable by 2020, just 1% short of target. Given an increasing trend in more recent years, there is reason to be positive about this target being met.
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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