Primary energy consumption by fuel

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-1-en
Also known as: ENER 026
Created 13 Dec 2018 Published 21 Dec 2018 Last modified 31 Jan 2019
21 min read
Topics: ,
In 2016, primary energy consumption in the EU amounted to 1 543 million tonnes of oil equivalent, 4.0 % above the 2020 target. Between 2005 and 2016, primary energy consumption in the EU decreased by 10 %. This was due to energy efficiency improvements, an increase in the share of renewable energy sources (hydro, wind and solar photovoltaic power) in total energy consumption, the economic recession and climate changes. Based on the European Environment Agency's preliminary estimates, in 2017 primary energy consumption was 1 563 million tonnes of oil equivalent in the EU. This represents a 1.3 % increase compared with 2016. Fossil fuels (including non-renewable waste) continued to dominate primary energy consumption in the EU, but their share declined from 78 % in 2005 to 72 % in 2016. The share of renewable energy sources almost doubled over the same period, from 7 % in 2005 to 14 % in 2016, increasing at an average annual rate of 5.4 % per year between 2005 and 2016. The share of nuclear energy in primary energy consumption decreased slightly, from 15 % in 2005 to 14 % in 2016. The EU’s dependence on imports of fossil fuels (gas, solid fuels and oil) from non-EU countries slightly increased, from 52 % in 2005 to 54 % in 2016, expressed as a share of total gross inland energy consumption plus bunkers. In 2016, oil represented 59 % of total net imports, gas 30 % and solid fuels 11 %.

Key messages

  • In 2016, primary energy consumption in the EU amounted to 1 543 million tonnes of oil equivalent, 4.0 % above the 2020 target.
  • Between 2005 and 2016, primary energy consumption in the EU decreased by 10 %. This was due to energy efficiency improvements, an increase in the share of renewable energy sources (hydro, wind and solar photovoltaic power) in total energy consumption, the economic recession and climate changes.
  • Based on the European Environment Agency's preliminary estimates, in 2017 primary energy consumption was 1 563 million tonnes of oil equivalent in the EU. This represents a 1.3 % increase compared with 2016.
  • Fossil fuels (including non-renewable waste) continued to dominate primary energy consumption in the EU, but their share declined from 78 % in 2005 to 72 % in 2016. The share of renewable energy sources almost doubled over the same period, from 7 % in 2005 to 14 % in 2016, increasing at an average annual rate of 5.4 % per year between 2005 and 2016. The share of nuclear energy in primary energy consumption decreased slightly, from 15 % in 2005 to 14 % in 2016.
  • The EU’s dependence on imports of fossil fuels (gas, solid fuels and oil) from non-EU countries slightly increased, from 52 % in 2005 to 54 % in 2016, expressed as a share of total gross inland energy consumption plus bunkers. In 2016, oil represented 59 % of total net imports, gas 30 % and solid fuels 11 %.

What are the trends in the energy mix in gross inland energy consumption in Europe?

Primary energy consumption by fuel, EU-28

EU28
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MTOE
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Table
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Primary energy consumption by fuel, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland

EFTA4
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MTOE
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Table
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Average annual growth rates for different fuels, EU-28

EU28
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National primary energy consumption and indicative national energy efficiency targets for 2020

2016
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Primary energy consumption in the EU increased by 9.2 %, from 1 570 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) to 1 713 Mtoe, between 1990 and 2005. Between 2005 and 2016, primary energy consumption in the EU decreased by 10.8 %, reaching 1 543 Mtoe in 2016. This decrease was caused by various factors, in particular energy efficiency improvements, the increase in the share of energy from hydro, wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) power, the economic recession and changing climate conditions [1]. 

Under the Energy Efficiency Directive, the EU has set a target to limit primary energy consumption to no more than 1 483 Mtoe by 2020. In 2016, the EU's primary energy consumption was below the linear trajectory between 2005 levels and the 2020 target. However, the sum of all 2020 targets for primary energy consumption by the 28 Member States [2] was equal to 1 526 Mtoe. This is 43 Mtoe (3 %) higher than the EU target for primary energy consumption in 2020 of 1 483 Mtoe.

Based on preliminary European Environment Agency (EEA) estimates, in 2017, primary energy consumption in the EU was 1 563 Mtoe, 1.3 % higher than in 2016. This is 34 Mtoe (2.2 %) higher than the level set in the linear pathway towards the 2020 target.

2005-2016 trends by fuel type

  • The share of coal and lignite in EU primary energy consumption decreased from 18.5 % in 2005 to 15.5 % in 2016. Since 2005, the absolute consumption of coal in the EU decreased by 25 % (2.5 % per year). Coal is mostly used for electricity generation. The use of coal has decreased partly because of the increase in electricity generation from renewable sources, national policies and energy market developments.
  • The share of natural gas in EU primary energy consumption decreased from 25.1 % in 2005 to 23.9 % in 2016. Since 2005, the absolute consumption of gas in the EU decreased by 14 % (1.4 % per year). Various factors have affected operations of gas-fired power plants, which ran continuously (base-load) in the past, but which now tend to operate more often during peak-load times, thereby reducing yearly operating hours. Among these factors are the stagnation of electricity demand following the economic crisis of 2008, the rapid penetration of renewable electricity production (solar, wind and hydro power) and the low price of coal relative to gas combined with low carbon dioxide (CO2) prices in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). However, since 2015, gas-fired power plants have regained their competitiveness compared with coal, because of national policies such as carbon pricing for electricity production (France and the United Kingdom) and increasing coal prices [3, 4]. The consumption of natural gas for heating in the residential and services sectors was influenced by weather conditions (relatively warm years) and income levels.
  • The share of oil (crude oil and petroleum products) in EU primary energy consumption decreased from 33.7 % in 2005 to 31.4 % in 2016. Since 2005, the absolute consumption of fossil oil in the EU decreased by 16 % (1.6 % per year).  Several factors contributed to this decline: the increase in the use of biofuels in the transport sector, high oil prices for some periods within the observation period of 2005-2016, the economic downturn and energy efficiency improvements in cars, partly driven by EU regulations on CO2 emissions from cars and vans.
  • The share of nuclear energy in EU primary energy consumption decreased from 15.0 % in 2005 to 14.0 % in 2016. Since 2005, the absolute consumption of nuclear energy in the EU decreased by 16 % (1.6 % per year). The reason is that several nuclear power plants have been shut down (in Bulgaria in 2002 and 2006, in Lithuania in 2004 and 2009, and in Slovakia in 2006 and 2008). More recently, in 2011, eight nuclear power plants were shut down in Germany in reaction to the Fukushima accident in Japan.
  • The share of renewable energy in EU primary energy consumption increased from around 7.1 % in 2005 to 14.0 % in 2016. Since 2005, the absolute consumption of renewable energy in the EU increased by 78 % (5.4 % per year). This growth has been stimulated by national and European policies to promote renewable energy, such as feed-in tariffs and premiums, obligations for electricity producers, obligations for renewables in transport fuel, etc. In recent years, various EU governments have reduced support levels for renewable energy, partly in response to the decreasing costs of renewable energy technologies and higher than expected growth (and thus support costs), but also in response to increasing government budget deficits following the economic recession [5].

While primary energy consumption in the EU has declined since 2005, it increased in non-EU EEA countries, from 109 Mtoe in 2005 to 163 Mtoe in 2016. The main reason for the difference in the trend between these groups of countries is the large increase in primary energy consumption in Turkey (+4.5 % per year) and, to a lesser extent, in Norway (+0.4 % per year). In Turkey, the trend was driven by strong economic and population growth, while in Norway developments may have been driven by growth in certain industrial sectors such as the chemical industry.

In 2016, the contribution of different fuels to primary energy consumption in non-EU EEA countries was quite different from that in the EU. In particular, nuclear power represents an important share in the EU-28 energy mix (14.0 %), while it is absent in the non-EU EEA countries considered here. Renewables have a greater share in primary energy consumption in the non-EU EEA countries (21.8 %, compared with 14.0 % in the EU). In 2016, the share of fossil fuels (including non-renewable waste) was 71.8 % for the EU and 78.8 % in the non-EU EEA countries.

Fuel switching has implications for how dependent Europe is on imported fuels (please see ENER 036 for a discussion of the dependency of the EU on imported fuels).  

To reach the EU's 20 % energy efficiency target by 2020, individual EU countries have set their own indicative national energy efficiency targets (Council Directive 2013/12/EU). All 28 EU Member States have set targets for primary energy consumption. In 2016, 20 Member States had managed to reduce or limit the increase of their primary energy consumption to below the linear trajectories drawn between their 2005 levels and their 2020 targets. Eight Member States had not achieved a decrease in primary energy consumption to below their linear trajectories towards their 2020 targets: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom [6].

In all EU countries, the share of renewable energy sources in primary energy consumption increased in the period 2005-2016. Nearly all countries combined this with a decrease in primary energy consumption, with the exception of Estonia and Poland.

Are imports of fossil fuels decreasing?

The EU’s dependence on imports of fossil fuels (gas, solid fuels and oil) from non-EU countries slightly increased, from 52.1 % to 53.6 %, between 2005 and 2016, expressed as a share of total gross inland energy consumption plus bunkers. In 2016, 59.2 % of total net imports was accounted for by oil, 30.0 % by gas and 10.8 % by solid fuels.

In absolute terms, the net import of fossil fuels decreased by 8 % between 2005 and 2016. Between 2005 and 2016, net imports of oil decreased by 11 %, net imports of solid fuels decreased by 23 %, while net imports of gas increased by 6 %.

In 2016, net oil imports accounted for 86.7 % of oil-based gross inland energy consumption plus bunkers; the majority of the imported oil is crude oil which is then refined in the EU. For gas, 70.2 % of gas-based gross inland consumption was from net imports in 2016. Reliance on imports is lower for solid fuels but still significant. In 2016, 40.2 % of solid-fuel-based gross inland consumption came from net imports.

The share of oil as a percentage of total net imports of fossil fuels slightly decreased, from 61.2 % to 59.2 %, between 2005 and 2016. The share of gas slightly increased, from 26.0 % in 2005 to 30.0 % in 2016. The share of solid fuels slightly decreased, from 12.8 % in 2005 to 10.8 % in 2016.

In addition to fossil fuels, Europe imports uranium for its nuclear power industry. The uranium demand in 2016 accounted for about 26 % of the global uranium demand [6]. Between 2015 and 2016, the amount of uranium delivered to EU nuclear facilities decreased by 8 %. In 2016, more than 90 % of the uranium supplied to the EU originated from outside the EU. The following suppliers have the largest share of uranium supplies to the EU: Niger (22.0 %), Canada (20.6 %), Russia (19.3 %), Kazakhstan (15.8 %), and Australia (13.2 %).

Imports of solid biomass into the EU are small. In 2016, net imports of solid biomass amounted to 4.2 % as a share of total primary solid biomass consumption and 0.25 % as a share of imports of all energy products.

 

[1] Energy produced from hydro, wind and solar PV power is measured as energy produced in final form (electricity), as opposed to electricity generation from non-renewable sources for which conversion losses occur. Hence, an increase in the share of energy production from these sources leads to a reduction in primary energy consumption.

[2] Updated targets as notified in the countries' 2016 national energy efficiency action plans or in separate notifications to the European Commission as of October 2016.

[3] Agora Energiewende and Sandbag, 2018, The European power sector in 2017: State of affairs and review of current developments.

[4] Deloitte, 2018, Profitability of gas-fired power plants in Europe: Is the storm behind us? Newsletter Power & Utilities, April 2018.

[5] Held et al., 2014, Design features of support schemes for renewable electricity.

[6] EEA, 2018, Trends and projections in Europe 2018 — Tracking progress towards Europe's climate and energy targets.

[6] European Commission, 2017, Euratom Supply Agency 2016 — Annual report 2016.

Indicator specification and metadata

Indicator definition

Primary energy consumption is defined as gross inland energy consumption minus the energy consumed for purposes other than producing useful energy (non-energy use, e.g. oil for plastics). Gross inland energy consumption represents the energy necessary to satisfy the inland energy consumption of a country. Gross inland consumption is calculated as follows: primary production + recovered products + total imports + variations of stocks - total exports - bunkers.

Units

Energy consumption is measured in million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe). The share of each fuel in total energy consumption is presented in the form of a percentage.


Policy context and targets

Context description

Environmental context

The level, evolution and structure of primary 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, 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 gases) 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 the 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 is 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, affect landscapes and ecosystems (e.g. wind turbines severely affect the landscape and much land is needed for the production of biomass, which may have an impact on biodiversity).

 

Policy context

  • Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2012/27/EU on energy efficiency (COM/2016/0761 final — 2016/0376 (COD))

On 30 November 2016, the Commission proposed an update to the Energy Efficiency Directive, including a new 30 % energy efficiency target for 2030, and measures to update the directive with the objective to meet the new target.

  • Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2010/31/EU on the energy performance of buildings (COM/2016/0765 final — 2016/0381 (COD))
  • Directive 2012/27/EU

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.

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.

Directive 2010/31/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 on the energy performance of buildings (recast).

The Ecodesign Directive is a framework directive: it does not set binding requirements on products by itself, but through implementing measures adopted on a case-by-case basis for each product group. All guiding principles for developing implementing measures are set in Directive 2009/125/EC. The list of product groups to be addressed through implementing measures is established in the periodic working plan. Standardisation supports the implementation of the Ecodesign Directive (notably through harmonised standards giving presumption of conformity with all or some Ecodesign Directive legal requirements).

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 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.

The Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) is the successor of the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive and, in essence, it concerns minimising pollution from various industrial sources throughout the EU. Operators of industrial installations operating activities covered by Annex I to the IED are required to obtain an integrated permit from the authorities in the EU countries. About 50 000 installations were covered by the IPPC Directive and the IED will cover some new activities, which could mean that the number of installations covered will rise slightly.

Directive 2010/30/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 on the indication by labelling and standard product information of the consumption of energy and other resources by energy-related products.

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 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.

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.

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).

The Energy Union Package establishes a framework strategy for a resilient energy union with a forward-looking climate policy. It includes a roadmap that sets actions for security of supply, the internal energy market, energy efficiency, greenhouse gases and research and innovation.  

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions 'An EU Strategy on Heating and Cooling' (COM(2016) 51 final, 16 February 2016).

With its 'Roadmap for moving to a competitive low-carbon economy in 2050', the European Commission is looking beyond the 2020 objectives and setting out a plan to meet the long-term target of reducing domestic emissions by 80 to 95 % by the middle of the 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(2010) 639 — Energy 2020: A strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions 'Energy 2020: A strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy' (COM(2010) 639 final).

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council 'European Energy Security Strategy' (COM(2014) 330 final, 28 May 2014). This describes the EU strategy to ensure that energy supplies are uninterrupted and energy prices remain stable.

Targets

Directive 2012/27/EU on energy efficiency establishes a common framework of measures for the promotion of energy efficiency within the EU in order to achieve the headline target of a 20 % reduction in primary energy consumption. The EU-28 target is to limit primary energy consumption to 1 483 Mtoe by 2020. Member States are requested to set indicative targets. In 2016, taken together, the sum of all individual Member States' 2020 targets for primary energy consumption was 1 533 Mtoe, which is 3 % higher than the 2020 target defined for the EU under the Energy Efficiency Directive (1 483 Mtoe).

Related policy documents

  • COM(2015) 80 final - A Framework Strategy for a Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy
    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. 

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

Technical information

  1. Geographical coverage:
    The EEA had 33 member countries at the time of writing this indicator. These are the 28 EU Member States and Turkey, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
  2. Methodology and frequency of data collection:
    Data are collected annually.
    Eurostat definitions for energy statistics: https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/cache/metadata/de/nrg_quant_esms.htm
  3. Methodology of data manipulation:
    Average annual rate of growth is calculated using the following: [(last year/base year) ^ (1/number of years) - 1]*100.
  4. Coding (used in the Eurostat database) and specific components of the indicator:
  • B_100900 — Gross inland consumption — All products
  • B_100900 — Gross inland consumption — Solid fuels
  • B_100900 — Gross inland consumption — Total petroleum products
  • B_100900 — Gross inland consumption — Gas
  • B_100900 — Gross inland consumption — Nuclear heat
  • B_100900 — Gross inland consumption — Electrical energy
  • B_100900 — Gross inland consumption — Derived heat
  • B_100900 — Gross inland consumption — Renewable energies
  • B_100900 — Gross inland consumption — Waste (non-renewable)
  • B_101600 — Final Non-energy consumption — All products
  • B_101600 — Final Non-energy consumption — Solid fuels
  • B_101600 — Final Non-energy consumption — Total petroleum products
  • B_101600 — Final Non-energy consumption — Gas
  • B_101600 — Final Non-energy consumption — Renewable energies

 These data are extracted from Eurostat datasets nrg_100a and nrg_108a.

Qualitative information

Overall scoring — historical data (1 = no major problems, 3 = major reservations):

  • Relevance: 1
  • Accuracy: 1
  • Comparability over time: 1      
  • Comparability over space: 1

Methodology for gap filling

No gap filling necessary

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

The proportion of a particular fuel in total energy consumption could decrease even if the actual amount of energy derived from that fuel increases, as the proportion 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 considered in the 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 consumed, as well as on the fuel mix used and the extent to which pollution abatement technologies are used.

Gross inland 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 on gross inland energy consumption even if there is no change in final energy demand. 

Data sets uncertainty

Officially reported data, updated annually. No obvious weaknesses.

Data have traditionally been compiled by Eurostat through the annual joint questionnaires of 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 on Eurostat's web page for metadata on energy statistics (https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/cache/metadata/de/nrg_quant_esms.htm).

In circumstances where data for one or more of the non-EU EEA countries are unavailable, these data are left out of total amounts for non-EU EEA countries or for EEA countries as a whole.

Rationale uncertainty

The composition 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 on the abatement technologies applied.

Data sources

Metadata

Topics:

information.png Tags:
, , , , , ,
DPSIR: Driving force
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • ENER 026
Temporal coverage:
,

Dates

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year

EEA Contact Info

Stephanie Schilling
Document Actions
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100