Is the European energy system becoming more efficient?

Policy Question
Indicator codes: CSI 045 , ENER 036
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Key messages

(17 Dec 2014)

The EU28 is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels, which accounted in 2012 for 74.6% of the total gross inland energy consumption compared to renewables at only 11%. The share of fossil fuels (gas, solid fuels and oil)[1] in the total gross inland energy consumption of the EU28 declined from 83.0% in 1990 to 74.6% in 2012. at an annual rate of 0.3 % per year. Between 2005 and 2012, the share of fossil fuels in gross inland energy consumption decreased slightly faster at 0.6 % per year.

The EU’s dependence on imports of fossil fuels from non-EU countries remained relatively stable between 2005 and 2012. In 2012, EU28 net import of fossil fuels was 53.4% of its total gross inland energy consumption with 58.2% for oil, 28.3% for gas and 13.6% for solid fuels.

In 2012 only 71.4% of the total gross inland energy consumption in the EU28 reached the end users. Between 1990 and 2012, energy losses in transformation and distribution were about 29% of total gross inland energy consumption and did not show a significant trend.

The average efficiency of electricity and heat production of conventional thermal power stations and district heating plants in the EU28 improved over the period 1990 and 2012 by 4.8 percentage points to reach 49.4% in 2012. The main increase was seen between 1990 and 2010 with an increase of 6.3 percentage points (from 44.6% in 1990 to 50.9% in 2010). The improvement before 2010 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 2010 and 2012, there was a slight fall in the efficiency of electricity and heat production from conventional thermal power plants and district heating plants of 1.5 percentage points (from 50.9% in 2010 to 49.4% in 2012) because of increased power production from coal and lignite and due to lower heat production.

[1] Definitions are provided in the meta data.

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