Consumption of energy

Data extracted in June 2017. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: June 2018.
Table 1: Gross inland consumption of energy, 1990-2015
(million tonnes of oil equivalent)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_100a)
Figure 1: Gross inland consumption, EU-28, 1990-2015
(% of total consumption)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_100a)
Table 2: Final energy consumption, 1990-2015
(million tonnes of oil equivalent)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_100a)
Figure 2: Energy intensity of the economy, 2005 and 2015
(kg of oil equivalent per 1 000 EUR of GDP)
Source: Eurostat (tsdec360)
Figure 3: Final energy consumption, EU-28, 2015
(% of total, based on tonnes of oil equivalent)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_100a)
Figure 4: Energy consumption by transport mode, EU-28, 1990-2015
(1990 = 100, based on tonnes of oil equivalent)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_100a)

The European Union (EU) has pledged to cut its energy consumption by 20 % (compared with projected levels) by 2020. This article describes how the consumption of energy in the EU-28 has developed in recent years, highlighting a shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, such as hydropower, solar energy, wind power and biofuels; it also looks at the development of energy use by various transport modes.

In tandem with supply-side policies, the EU has launched a number of initiatives which aim to increase the efficiency of energy use, reduce energy demand and attempt to decouple it from economic growth. Several instruments and implementing measures exist in this field, including the promotion of co-generation, the energy performance of buildings (whether private or public buildings), and energy labelling for domestic appliances.

Main statistical findings

Consumption

Gross inland consumption of energy within the EU-28 in 2015 was 1 627 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) — see Table 1. Having remained relatively unchanged during the period from 2005 to 2008, gross inland consumption of energy decreased by 5.8 % in 2009; some of this change may be attributed to a lower level of economic activity as a result of the global financial and economic crisis, rather than a structural shift in the pattern of energy consumption. In 2010, there was a 3.7 % rebound in the level of gross inland consumption of energy in the EU-28 although this was followed by a similarly large (-3.7 %) fall in 2011. After these three years of relatively large fluctuations, 2012 and 2013 saw more modest rates of change as consumption fell by 0.8 % and 1.1 %; this pattern intensified in 2014, with a year-on-year reduction of 3.6 %. In 2015, there was a modest rebound in EU-28 gross inland consumption of energy, up 1.2 %.

As such, the latest information available reveals that the level of energy consumption within the EU was, in 2015, at almost the same level as it had been in 1990; during this same period, the number of inhabitants living in the EU-28 increased by 33.3 million persons. The level of EU-28 energy consumption in 2015 was 11.6 % lower than its previous peak of 1 840 Mtoe recorded in 2006, equivalent to an average reduction of 1.4 % per annum.

The gross inland consumption of each EU Member State depends, to a large degree, on the structure of its energy system, the availability of natural resources for primary energy production, and the structure and development of each economy (generally less energy is consumed when economies are experiencing a recession); this is true not only for conventional fuels and nuclear power, but also for renewable energy sources.

Germany had the highest level of gross inland consumption of energy in 2015, accounting for a 19.3 % share of the EU-28 total. France (15.5 %) and the United Kingdom (11.7 %) were the only other EU Member States to record double-digit shares, with Italy’s 9.6 % share just below this level. Together these four Member States accounted for 56.1 % of the EU-28’s gross inland consumption.

Half (14 out of 28) of the EU Member States had lower gross inland energy consumption in 2015 than in 1990. Most of these had joined the EU in 2004, 2007 or 2012, although Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Denmark also recorded lower levels of consumption in 2015. However, Cyprus stood at the other end of the ranking, having the largest relative increase (41.1 %) in gross inland energy consumption between 1990 and 2015, followed by Ireland (38.0 %) and Spain (34.8 %). In absolute terms, the biggest increases in gross inland consumption of energy between 1990 and 2015 were recorded in Spain (31.4 Mtoe) and France (24.8 Mtoe).

Figure 1 provides information on the EU-28 energy mix during the period 1990 to 2015. Overall, there was a gradual decline in the share of petroleum products in total consumption, down from a relative peak of 39.5 % in 1998 to a low of 33.2 % in 2013, before rising at a modest pace to 34.4 % in 2015. The share of solid fuels fell relatively quickly during the early years of the period under consideration, before stabilising between 1999 and 2007; it fell sharply again in 2008 and 2009, increased through to 2012, before declining again to reach a share of 16.1 % in 2015. The combined share of petroleum products and solid fuels fell from 65.1 % of total consumption in 1990 to 50.4 % by 2013, reflecting a move away from the most polluting fossil fuels; there was a modest increase in their consumption in 2014 (up to 51.1 % of the total energy mix), perhaps reflecting the relatively low price of oil, with their share falling back to 50.6 % in 2015. The share from nuclear energy in total energy consumption rose to a peak of 14.5 % in 2002 but had dropped back to 13.3 % by 2007 and 13.5 % in 2012, before increasing somewhat in 2013 and 2014 to reach 14.1 %, only to fall again in 2015, when nuclear energy accounted for 13.6 % of total consumption. By contrast, the share of EU-gross inland consumption accounted for by renewable energy sources was 13.0 % in 2015, three times its share (4.3 %) of the energy mix in 1990. The relative importance of natural gas also increased relatively quickly during the 1990s and more slowly thereafter, to peak at 25.3 % in 2010; this share fell during the next four years to reach 21.4 % in 2014, before rising to 22.0 % in 2015. The recent downturn in the use of gas within the EU energy mix reflects, at least in part, difficulties linked to the security of supply from Russia.

EU-28 final energy consumption (in other words, excluding energy used by power producers and energy transformation processes) was equivalent to two thirds (66.6 %) of gross inland consumption, at 1 084 Mtoe in 2015. The relative shares of the four largest EU Member States were similar to those recorded for gross inland consumption of energy; between them they accounted for 55.7 % of the EU-28’s final energy consumption, with the highest share registered in Germany (19.6 %) — see Table 2.

Energy intensity is a measure of an economy’s energy efficiency. The least energy-intensive economies in the EU in 2015 were Ireland, Denmark, Luxembourg, Malta and the United Kingdom; they used the lowest amount of energy relative to their overall economic size (based on gross domestic product (GDP)). The most energy-intensive EU Member States were Bulgaria and Estonia (see Figure 2). It should be noted that the economic structure of an economy plays an important role in determining energy intensity, as service-based economies will, a priori, display relatively low energy intensities, while economies with heavy industries (such as iron and steel production) may have a considerable proportion of their economic activity within industrial sectors, thus leading to higher energy intensity.

Between 2005 and 2015, energy savings were made in each of the EU Member States, as the energy intensity of each economy fell. The biggest reductions in energy intensity were recorded in Malta (-44.3 %), Slovakia (-39.4 %), Romania (-36.5 %), Luxembourg (-33.9 %) and Ireland (-33.7 %), where the amount of energy required to produce a unit of economic output (as measured by GDP) fell by at least one third between 2005 and 2015. By contrast, the smallest decreases in percentage terms were recorded for Finland (-7.8 %), Estonia (-4.3 %) and Greece (-3.1 %); these were the only Member States where the reduction in energy intensity was below 10.0 %.

End-users

An analysis of the final end use of energy in the EU-28 in 2015 shows three dominant categories: transport (33.1 %), households (25.4 %) and industry (25.3 %) — see Figure 3.

The total energy consumption of all transport modes in the EU-28 amounted to 359 Mtoe in 2015. There was a marked change in the development of energy consumption for transport after 2007. Until that year consumption had consistently increased, rising each year from the start of the time series in 1990. However, in 2008, as the global financial and economic crisis started, the consumption of energy for transport purposes fell 1.5 %. This fall intensified in 2009 (-3.2 %), continued at a more subdued pace in 2010 (-0.3 %) and 2011 (-0.5 %), and decreased again more strongly in 2012 (-3.0 %) and 2013 (-1.0 %), before increases of 1.3 % and 1.7 % were registered in 2014 and 2015. Overall, between the relative peak of 2007 and the low of 2013, final energy consumption for transport in the EU-28 fell by 9.3 %.

A similar analysis for all end uses (based again on the period from 2007 onwards) reveals that EU-28 final energy consumption for industry fell overall by 15.5 % during the period between 2007 and 2015. The overall decline in energy consumption for agriculture and forestry was 7.9 %, while the rates of change for transport (-6.5 %) and residential (-3.9 %) energy use were somewhat less pronounced. By contrast, final energy consumption by services increased during the period under consideration, rising overall by 4.7 %.

There were considerable differences in the development of energy consumption across various transport modes, with rapid growth for international aviation (92.5 % between 1990 and 2008). However, there followed a considerable reduction in energy consumption for international aviation in 2009, down 7.6 %. For the next few years there was no clear pattern in terms of energy consumption developments for international aviation, although there were three consecutive years of growth in 2013, 2014 and 2015, such that the level of consumption in 2015 stood just 1.9 % below its previous relative peak of 2008.

As shown in Figure 4, international aviation had the highest growth in EU-28 energy consumption among the principal modes of transport between 1990 and 2015 — rising 88.8 % overall. Road transport — by far the largest transport mode — and domestic aviation were the only other transport modes to report increases over this period, as their consumption rose by 23.3 % and 4.0 % respectively. By contrast, energy consumption in 2015 was 24.2 % lower than in 1990 for rail transport and 29.9 % lower for transport via inland waterways.

In absolute terms, the largest decreases in energy consumption among the different transport modes were recorded for transport via inland waterways and for rail transport, where EU-28 consumption was between 1.9 and 2.0 Mtoe lower in 2015 than in 1990 (for both these modes). There was almost no change in the energy consumed by domestic aviation, while the consumption of energy for international aviation rose by 21.5 Mtoe between 1990 and 2015; for comparison the 55.5 Mtoe increase recorded for road transport was more than 2.5 times as high. These changes in energy consumption reflect the use of each transport mode, but can also be influenced by technological changes, especially when they relate to fuel-efficiency gains or losses.

Data sources and availability

Gross inland energy consumption represents the quantity of energy necessary to satisfy inland consumption of the geographical entity under consideration. It is defined as primary production plus imports, recovered products and stock changes, less exports and fuel supply to maritime bunkers (for sea-going ships of all flags). It describes the total energy needs of a country (or entity), covering: consumption by the energy sector itself; distribution and transformation losses; final energy consumption by end-users; non-energy use of energy products and statistical differences.

Final energy consumption includes the consumption of energy by all users except the energy sector itself (whether for deliveries, for transformation, and/or its own use), and includes, for example, energy consumption by agriculture, industry, services and households, as well as energy consumption for transport. It should be noted that fuel quantities transformed in the electrical power stations of industrial auto-producers and the quantities of coke transformed into blast-furnace gas are not part of overall industrial energy consumption but are classified instead as part of the transformation sector.

Energy intensity is measured as the ratio between gross inland consumption of energy and GDP; this indicator is a key indicator for measuring progress under the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The ratio is expressed in kilograms of oil equivalent (kgoe) per 1 000 euro, and to facilitate analysis over time the calculations are based on GDP at constant prices with reference year 2010. If an economy becomes more efficient in its use of energy and its GDP remains constant, then the ratio for this indicator should fall.

Context

As well as supply-side policies to influence the production of energy, there is a growing trend for policy initiatives to focus on improving energy efficiency in an attempt to reduce energy demand and decouple it from economic growth. This process was given impetus by the integrated energy and climate change strategy that committed the EU to cut its energy consumption by 20 % by 2020 (in relation to projected levels) and, in so doing, simultaneously address the issues of import dependency, energy-related emissions and energy costs.

The European Commission adopted an Energy efficiency plan 2011 (COM(2011) 109 final) in March 2011, which was followed in October 2012 by a Directive (2012/27/EU) of the European Parliament and of the Council on energy efficiency. This aims to establish a common framework to promote energy efficiency and specifies actions to implement some of the proposals included in the energy efficiency plan; it also foresees the establishment of indicative national energy efficiency targets for 2020. The Commission hopes that these plans will be pursued in conjunction with other policy actions under the Europe 2020 flagship initiative for a resource-efficient Europe, including the Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy by 2050 (COM(2011) 112 final). The energy efficiency plan proposes several actions to:

  • promote the role of the public sector and propose a binding target to accelerate the refurbishment rate of the public sector building stock; introduce energy efficiency criteria in public procurement;
  • trigger the renovation process in private buildings and improve the energy performance of appliances;
  • improve the efficiency of power and heat generation;
  • foresee energy efficiency requirements for industrial equipment, improved information provision for small and medium-sized enterprises, and energy audits and energy management systems for large companies;
  • focus on the roll-out of smart grids and smart meters providing consumers with the information and services necessary to optimise their energy consumption and calculate their energy savings.

Energy efficiency also features in the two most recent strategic developments, the EU’s energy security strategy (COM(2014) 330 final) and a framework strategy for a resilient energy union with a forward-looking climate change policy, as detailed in a European Commission Communication (COM(2015) 80 final). The first lists increasing energy efficiency and reaching the proposed 2030 energy and climate goals as one of five areas for action, while the latter lists energy efficiency as having the potential to moderate energy demand as one of its five dimensions; for more information see the introductory article on energy statistics. The European Commission is optimistic that the 20 % primary energy consumption target will be reached if the EU Member States adhere to their commitments and continue to implement existing energy efficiency legislation and energy efficiency programmes. The Commission publishes an assessment of the progress being made in relation to national energy efficiency targets for 2020 and towards the implementation of the Energy Efficiency Directive; for more information, see the 2016 progress report (COM(2017) 56 final).

By using energy more efficiently, Europeans can lower their energy bills, reduce their reliance on external suppliers of oil and gas, and help protect the environment. The EU harmonises national measures relating to the publication of information on the consumption of energy by household appliances, thereby allowing consumers to choose appliances on the basis of their energy efficiency. A range of different products (for example, light bulbs, refrigerators, washing machines) carry the EU’s energy label (Directive 2010/30/EU) that details the energy efficiency of products, rating them according to a scale that ranges from A to G, with ‘A’ (or even A+, A++ or A+++ for some types of appliances) as the most energy efficient products and ‘G’ the least efficient; a maximum of seven colours are also used with dark green always representing the most efficient and red the least efficient.

There are many factors that impact on energy use for transport, for example, overall economic growth, the efficiency of individual transport modes, the take-up of alternative fuels, advances in transport technology and fuel, and lifestyle choices. The globalised nature of the EU economy has fuelled demand for international freight movements (principally by ship), while within the single market there has been a considerable expansion in the use of road freight transport. The growth of low-cost airlines, an increase in motorisation rates (the average number of motor vehicles per inhabitant), a trend for living in suburban areas, or the expansion of tourism (more frequent breaks, and more long-haul destinations) are among some of the factors that have contributed to the longer-term increase in demand for energy as a result of personal travel (especially for road transport and international aviation).

See also

Further Eurostat information

Publications

Main tables

Energy statistics - quantities (t_nrg_quant)
Gross inland energy consumption by fuel type (tsdcc320)
Electricity consumption by industry, transport activities and households/services (GWH) (ten00094)
Final energy consumption by product (ten00095)
Final energy consumption by sector (tsdpc320)
Energy consumption of transport relative to GDP (tsdtr100)
Final energy consumption in households by fuel (t2020_rk210)
Electricity consumption by households (tsdpc310)
Energy dependence (tsdcc310)
Share of renewable energy in fuel consumption of transport (tsdcc340)

Database

Energy statistics - quantities, annual data (nrg_quant)
Energy statistics - supply, transformation and consumption (nrg_10)
Simplified energy balances - annual data (nrg_100a)
Supply, transformation and consumption of solid fuels - annual data (nrg_101a)
Supply, transformation and consumption of oil - annual data (nrg_102a)
Supply, transformation and consumption of gas - annual data (nrg_103a)
Supply, transformation and consumption of electricity - annual data (nrg_105a)
Supply, transformation and consumption of heat - annual data (nrg_106a)
Supply, transformation and consumption of renewable energies - annual data (nrg_107a)
Supply, transformation and consumption of wastes (non-renewable) - annual data (nrg_108a)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)

External links