Indicator Specification

Total electricity consumption - outlook from EEA

Indicator Specification
  Indicator codes: Outlook 051
Published 08 Jun 2009 Last modified 04 Sep 2015
9 min read
This page was archived on 12 Nov 2013 with reason: Content not regularly updated
Definition: Electricity consumption is based on calculated consumption; this equals the energy supplied minus transmission and distribution losses. Model used: PRIMES Ownership: European Environment Agency Temporal coverage: 1990 - 2030 Geographical coverage: EU 27 : Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Bulgaria Cyprus, Czech republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia
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Justification for indicator selection

The indicator identifies whether there is a switch to less polluting fuels to meet the EU's energy needs.

Electricity generation and public heat together are responsible for 29 % of all EU-27 greenhouse gas emissions (EEA, 2008)) and 27% of all particles emissions (primary and secondary particles, CSI003, 2004). The indicator for electricity production by fuel type helps to estimate the environmental impacts of electricity generation. The type and extent of energy-related pressures on the environment depend upon the sources of electricity generation and how the electricity is produced. 

Electricity production from fossil fuels (such as crude oil, oil products, hard coal, lignite and natural and derived gas) can therefore provide a proxy indicator of resource depletion, CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution levels (e.g. SO2 and NOX). 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 content than coal per unit of energy content, and 25 % less carbon content than oil, and contains only marginal quantities of sulphur.

The level of nuclear electricity production provides an indication of the trends in the amount of nuclear waste generated and of the risks associated with radioactive leaks and accidents. Increasing consumption of nuclear energy at the expense of fossil fuels would on the other hand contribute to reductions in CO2 emissions.

Renewable electricity production is a measure of the contribution from technologies that are, in general, more environmentally benign, as they produce no (or very little) net CO2 and usually significantly lower levels of other pollutants. Renewable electricity can, however, have impacts on landscapes and ecosystems (for example, potential flooding and changed water levels from large hydro power) and the incineration of municipal waste (which is generally made up of both renewable and non-renewable material) may also generate local air pollution.

Scientific references

Indicator definition

Definition: Electricity consumption is based on calculated consumption; this equals the energy supplied minus transmission and distribution losses.

Model used: PRIMES

Ownership: European Environment Agency

Temporal coverage: 1990 - 2030

Geographical coverage: EU 27 : Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Bulgaria Cyprus, Czech republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia


The Total Energy Production is measured in million tones oil equivalent (Mtoe).


Policy context and targets

Context description

The indicator shows the trends of electricity consumption which is a robust way to lower the environmental impacts of electricity generation. It can be useful to monitor  perfomances of the wide range of policies at pan-european and national level that attempt to influence energy consumption and energy efficiency, electricity generation, and, therefore, extent of environmental impacts.

Global policy context

The major documents that relate to trends of the energy prodution and electricity generation at the global level were developed and presented during the World Summit on Sustainable Development  in Johannesburg (WSSD,2002) in Agenda 21. WSSD, 2002 aims to achieve a sustainable energy future, including diversified energy sources using cleaner technologies. Moreover, there is a number of sub-negotiations and declarations concerning more sustainable ratio in balance between a global energy supply and production of different energy types, as well as more sustainable electricity generation.

Pan-European policy context

The recent pan-european policies concerning different aspects of energy production and electricity generation have been developed under different intenational fora. 

The Committee on Sustainable Energy seeks to reform energy prices and subsidies and ways how to carry out it to meet more sustainable energy production and consumption in the region (UNECE Guidelines).

Kiev Declaration "Environment for Europe" (2003) aims at supporting further efforts to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy production to meet environmental objectives.

EU policy context

This indicator can be used to help monitor the success of key policies at EU and Member State level that attempt to influence electricity consumption and energy efficiency.
The EU Action Plan for Energy Efficiency (SEC(2006)1173, 1174 and 1175) ) aims at boosting the cost-effective and efficient use of energy in the EU. It sets a target of 20% reduction of energy-use by 2020, compared to the baseline-projections. This target is also part of the EU Energy Policy for Europe (COM(2007)2). The target of 20% equals a 1,5% improvement in energy-efficiency per year. This regards the total use of energy, including the use of other energy-carriers than electricity.
The power generation sector was responsible for 30.9 % of EU-27 greenhouse gas emissions in 2006 (EEA, 2008). Therefore, the reduction of electricity consumption is also to be seen in the context of reaching the target of an 8 % reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2008-2012 from 1990 levels for the EU-15 and individual targets for most new Member-States as agreed in 1997 under the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, as well as reaching the proposed target of 20 - 30% reduction of emissions by 2020 as defined in the new EU Energy and Climate Policy package (COM(2008(16-19)).

The Commission's package of legislative proposals regarding energy use and climate change also includes an improvement of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (with a binding target of 21% emission reduction in 2020 vs. 2005) and binding targets for Member States for emissions which fall outside the EU-ETS. The caps on emissions in the EU-ETS will probably result in a rise of electricity prices of approximately 10 - 15% (European Commission, Impact Assessment  2008). This might have an impact on the demand for electricity. Moreover, other legislative proposals from this package are likely to result in a decrease of the growth of energy consumption.
The Action Plan for Energy Efficiency (COM, 2006)32 sets 10 priority actions. Some of these will mainly affect the use of electricity. One important will be the labelling and setting of minimum energy performance standards for appliances and other energy-using equipment. This will be done by implementing Directives for 14 priority product groups by 2008. These include computers, televisions, standby-equipment, cooling and street lighting. Other priority actions include building performance requirements, facilitating financing of energy investments and raising energy efficiency awareness. Furthermore, it expands on measures to introduce more efficient electricity generation and transmission in order to reduce environmental pressures.
The Action Plan builds on existing EU energy efficiency regulation, such as the Directive 2005/32/EC on the eco-design of Energy-using Products. This directive provides coherent EU-wide rules for eco-design and ensures that disparities among national regulations do not become obstacles to intra-EU trade. However, it does not introduce directly binding requirements for specific products, but defines conditions and criteria for setting, through subsequent implementing measures, requirements regarding environmentally relevant product characteristics, such as electricity consumption. Other existing regulation includes the EC energy label Directive (92/75/EEC) introducing mandatory labels stating the energy efficiency grade for specific household appliances, Directive (96/57/EC) on minimum energy efficiency requirements for household electric refrigerators and freezers, and the Directive 2003/66/EC introducing the new energy classes A+ and A++ for the most efficient appliances.

EECCA policy context

Energy efficiency and energy trade, and, consequently, energy and electricity productions are highlighted in the EECCA Environment Strategy. Moreover, there are negotiations concerning decisions about improvements in hydropower sector in Central Asia (Cooperation Strategy in Asia, 2004)



Related policy documents

Key policy question

Are we consuming less electricity?



Methodology for indicator calculation

The indicator of the Total primary energy production is produced using the PRIMES model. The model covers the horizon from 1990 to 2030 with 5 years periods. A fundamental assumption in PRIMES is that producers and consumers both respond to changes in prices.

Overview of the PRIMES Model

PRIMES is a partial equilibrium model for the European Union energy system developed by, and maintained at, The National Technical University of Athens, E3M-Laboratory. The most recent version of the model used in the calculations covers each of the EU Member States, EU candidate countries and Neighbouring countries, uses Eurostat as the main data source, and is updated with 2000 as the base year. The PRIMES model is the result of collaborative research under a series of projects supported by the Joule programme of the Directorate General for Research of the European Commission.

The model determines the equilibrium by finding the prices of each energy form such that the quantity producers find best to supply match the quantity consumers wish to use. The equilibrium is static (within each time period) but repeated in a time-forward path, under dynamic relationships. The model is behavioural but also represents in an explicit and detailed way the available energy demand and supply technologies and pollution abatement technologies. It reflects considerations about market economics, industry structure, energy/environmental policies and regulation. These are conceived so as to influence the market behaviour of energy system agents. The modular structure of PRIMES reflects a distribution of decision-making among agents that decide individually about their supply, demand, combined supply and demand, and prices. Then the market-integrating part of PRIMES simulates market clearing. PRIMES is a general purpose model. It conceived for forecasting, scenario construction and policy impact analysis. It covers a medium to long-term horizon. It is modular and allows either for a unified model use or for partial use of modules to support specific energy studies.

For more information see here.

Methodology for gap filling

No methodology for gap filling has been specified. Probably this info has been added together with indicator calculation.

Methodology references



Methodology uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Data sets uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Further work

Short term work

Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.

Long term work

Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.

General metadata

Responsibility and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Anita Pirc Velkavrh


No owners.


Indicator code
Outlook 051
Version id: 1


DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Performance indicator (Type B - Does it matter?)


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