Consumption of energy

Data extracted in May 2015. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: May 2016.

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, 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.

Table 1: Gross inland consumption of energy, 1990–2013
(million tonnes of oil equivalent)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_100a)
Figure 1: Gross inland consumption, EU-28, 1990–2013
(% of total consumption)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_100a)
Table 2: Final energy consumption, 1990–2013
(million tonnes of oil equivalent)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_100a)
Figure 2: Energy intensity of the economy, 2003 and 2013
(kg of oil equivalent per thousand EUR of GDP)
Source: Eurostat (tsdec360)
Figure 3: Final energy consumption, EU-28, 2013 (1)
(% of total, based on tonnes of oil equivalent)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_100a)
Figure 4: Energy consumption by transport mode, EU-28, 1990–2013
(1990 = 100, based on tonnes of oil equivalent)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_100a)

Main statistical findings


Gross inland consumption of energy within the EU-28 in 2013 was 1 666 million tonnes of oil equivalent (toe) — see Table 1. Having remained relatively unchanged during the period from 2003 to 2008, gross inland consumption of energy decreased by 5.7 % in 2009; much of this change can be attributed to a lower level of economic activity as a result of the financial and economic crisis, rather than a structural shift in the pattern of energy consumption. Indeed, in 2010 there was a 3.8 % rebound in the level of gross inland consumption of energy in the EU-28 although this was followed by a similarly large (3.6 %) fall in 2011. After these three years of relatively large changes, 2012 and 2013 saw more modest rates of change as consumption fell by 0.7 % and 1.2 %.

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; this is true not only for conventional fuels and nuclear power, but also for renewable energy sources.

In keeping with the data for the whole of the EU-28, gross inland consumption of energy fell in all of the EU Member States in 2009. Consumption rebounded in 2010 in most of the Member States — with only Lithuania, Greece, Portugal, Cyprus, Croatia and Spain recording consecutive contractions in consumption in 2009 and 2010 — possibly reflecting the low level of economic output and consumer confidence in several of these Member States. In 2011, a fall in consumption was recorded by 22 of the 28 Member States, the main exceptions being Bulgaria (a 7.4 % increase) and Lithuania (3.2 %). Only nine Member States recorded an increase in consumption in 2012 and again only nine in 2013, including two of the largest Member States (Germany and France) in both years. In 2013, Croatia and Spain extended their runs of falling consumption to six years, while for Greece and Cyprus 2013 was their fifth consecutive decrease; Portugal recorded an increase in consumption of 0.7 % in 2013 after seven years of decreases.

Germany had the highest level of gross inland consumption of energy in 2013, accounting for a 19.5 % share of the EU-28 total. France (15.6 %) and the United Kingdom (12.1 %) 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 56.7 % of the EU-28’s gross inland consumption.

An analysis over time shows that gross inland consumption of energy in the EU-28 in 2012 was almost exactly the same level as it had been in 1990. Between these years, consumption increased by 12.4 % from a low point of 1 631 million toe in 1994 to a peak of 1 832 million in 2006. Thereafter, consumption fell most years to reach its 2013 level which was 9.1 % below the 2006 peak. A total of 12 EU Member States had lower gross inland energy consumption in 2013 than in 1990. Most of these Member States had joined the EU in 2004, 2007 or 2012, as Germany and the United Kingdom were the only EU-15 Member States among those with lower consumption. Nevertheless, two other Member States that joined the EU in 2004, namely Cyprus and Malta, stood at the other end of the ranking, having the largest increases in gross inland energy consumption between 1990 and 2013: 36 % for Cyprus and 44 % for Malta.

Figure 1 provides information on the energy mix during the period 1990 to 2013. Overall there was a gradual decline in the share of petroleum products. The share of solid fuels fell relatively quickly during the early years of this period, before stabilising between 1999 and 2007, falling sharply again in 2008 and 2009, and then increasing again through to 2012. The combined share of petroleum products and solid fuels fell from 65.1 % of total consumption in 1990 to 50.6 % by 2013, reflecting a move away from the most polluting fossil fuels. The share from nuclear energy rose to a peak of 14.5 % in 2002 but dropped back to 13.6 % by 2013. By contrast, the share of EU-28 gross inland consumption accounted for by renewable energy sources was 11.8 % in 2013, 2.8 times the share (4.3 %) in 1990. The relative importance of natural gas also increased relatively quickly during the 1990s and more slowly thereafter, to peak at 25.4 % in 2010; the share from natural gas fell during the next three years to reach 23.2 % in 2013, a share that was relatively close to that observed 10 years earlier.

Renewable energy sources accounted for more than one third of gross inland consumption of energy in Latvia (36.1 %) and Sweden (34.8 %) in 2013, and their share was over one quarter of the total in Austria (29.6 %) and Finland (29.2 %). The fastest expansion between 1990 and 2013 in the share of renewable energy sources in energy consumption was recorded in Latvia, rising by 22.9 percentage points; increases in excess of 10.0 percentage points were also recorded in Denmark, Lithuania, Romania, Italy, Estonia, Sweden and Finland.

EU-28 final energy consumption (in other words, excluding energy used by power producers and energy transformation processes) was equivalent to just under two thirds (66.2 %) of gross inland consumption, at 1 104 million toe in 2013. 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 56.6 % of the EU-28’s final energy consumption, with the highest share registered in Germany (19.7 %) — see Table 2.

Energy intensity is a measure of an economy’s energy efficiency. The least intensive economies in the EU in 2013 were Ireland, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Italy, which used the least 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 2003 and 2013, substantial energy savings were made in the Lithuanian and Romanian economies, as well as in Slovakia, Bulgaria, Poland, Cyprus and the Czech Republic, as the amount of energy required to produce a unit of economic output (as measured by GDP) was reduced by at least one quarter (25.0 %). None of the EU Member States reported a rise in their energy intensity between 2003 and 2013, with the smallest decreases in percentage terms recorded for the Netherlands, Greece, Estonia and Italy.


An analysis of the final end use of energy in the EU-28 in 2013 shows three dominant categories: namely, transport (31.6 %), households (26.8 %) and industry (25.1 %) — see Figure 3.

The total energy consumption of all transport modes in the EU-28 amounted to 349 million toe in 2013. There was a marked change in the development of energy consumption for transport after 2007. Until that year consumption had generally increased, but in 2008, as the financial and economic crisis started, the consumption of energy for transport purposes fell 1.3 %. This fall intensified in 2009 (-3.4 %), continued at a more subdued pace in 2010 (-0.3 %) and 2011 (-0.5 %), and decreased more strongly again in 2012 (-3.0 %) and 2013 (-1.0 %). Overall, between the 2007 peak and the latest data — for 2013 — energy consumption for transport in the EU-28 fell by 9.0 %.

There were considerable differences in the development of energy consumption across various transport modes, with rapid growth for international aviation (93.8 % between 1990 and 2008). However, there followed a considerable reduction in energy consumption for international aviation in 2009, down 7.6 %. For the next four years there was no clear pattern in terms of energy consumption developments for international aviation, with alternating decreases and increases, although the level of consumption in 2013 remained 6.1 % below its peak from 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 2013 — rising 81.9 % overall. Road transport was the only other transport mode to report an increase over this period, up by 19.7 %. By contrast, energy consumption in 2013 was 6.1 % lower than in 1990 for domestic aviation, 19.5 % lower for rail transport, and 28.2 % lower for transport via inland waterways.

In absolute terms, the largest decrease in energy consumption among the different transport modes was recorded for transport via inland waterways, where EU-28 consumption was 1.8 million toe lower in 2013 than in 1990. For rail transport the difference was a reduction of 1.6 million toe and for domestic aviation a reduction of 0.3 million toe. The consumption of energy for international aviation rose by 19.7 million toe between 1990 and 2013; for comparison the 47.0 million toe increase recorded for road transport was more than twice this size. These changes in energy consumption reflect the use of each transport mode, but can also be influenced by technological changes, especially when these 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 seagoing 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 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 EUR 1 000, and to facilitate analysis over time the calculations are based on GDP at constant prices (currently chain-linked 2005 prices). If an economy becomes more efficient in its use of energy and its GDP remains constant, then the ratio for this indicator should fall.


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 the ‘Energy efficiency plan 2011’ (COM(2011) 109 final) in March 2011, which was followed in October 2012 by a Directive 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 features also in the two most recent strategy developments, the Energy Security Strategy (COM(2014) 330) and the framework strategy for a resilient energy union with a forward-looking climate change policy in a Communication (COM(2015) 80). The first lists increasing energy efficiency and reaching the proposed 2030 energy and climate goals as one of the five areas for action, while the latter lists energy efficiency contributing to moderation of demand as one of its five dimensions. For more information see the introductory article on energy statistics.

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 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 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.

See also

Further Eurostat information


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)


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