Electricity production, consumption and market overview

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

This article describes the electricity market in the European Union (EU) with an analysis of electricity generation according to a range of different energy sources. It also provides statistics on the level of market liberalisation (as measured by the share of the largest generator) within electricity markets and concludes with information concerning electricity consumption by households.

Table 1: Net electricity generation, 1990–2013
(thousand GWh)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_105a)
Figure 1: Net electricity generation, EU-28, 2013 (1)
(% of total, based on GWh)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_105a)
Figure 2: Market share of the largest generator in the electricity market, 2013 (1)
(% of total generation)
Source: Eurostat (ten00119)
Figure 3: Electricity consumption by households, 2013
(2003 = 100)
Source: Eurostat (tsdpc310)

Main statistical findings

Electricity generation

Total net electricity generation in the EU-28 was 3.10 million gigawatt hours (GWh) in 2013 — which was slightly less (-0.9 %) than the year before. This was the third consecutive fall in output, following on from a 0.1 % fall in 2012 and a reduction of 2.2 % in 2011. As such, the level of net electricity generation in 2013 remained 3.6 % below its peak level of 2008 (3.22 million GWh).

Germany had the highest level of net electricity generation in 2013 among the EU Member States (see Table 1), accounting for 19.2 % of the EU-28 total, just ahead of France (17.7 %); the United Kingdom was the only other Member State with a double-digit share (11.0 %).

The pattern observed for the EU-28 of falling electricity generation in 2011, 2012 and 2013 was reproduced in only four of the EU Member States, namely Cyprus, Hungary, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. By contrast, Slovakia was the only Member State to report growth in all three of these years.

In 2013, the largest increase in electricity generation was recorded for Croatia, with growth of 27.9 %. Denmark, Estonia and Portugal also recorded double-digit growth, while none of the other Member States reported growth of more than 4.0 %. By contrast, 15 Member States reported a fall in electricity generation, with the largest reductions in Hungary (-13.3 %) and Luxembourg (-24.4 %).

More than one quarter of the net electricity generated in the EU-28 in 2013 came from nuclear power plants (26.8 %), while almost double this share (49.8 %) came from power stations using combustible fuels (such as natural gas, coal and oil). Among the renewable energy sources shown in Figure 1, the highest share of net electricity generation in 2013 was from hydropower plants (12.8 %), followed by wind turbines (7.5 %) and solar power (2.7 %).

The relative importance of renewable energy sources in relation to EU-28 net electricity generation grew between 2003 and 2013 from 12.6 % to 23.2 %, while there was a relatively small decrease in the relative importance of combustible fuels from 56.4 % to 49.8 % and a larger reduction in the amount of electricity generated from nuclear power plants from 30.9 % to 26.8 %. Among the renewable energy sources, the proportion of net electricity generated from solar and wind increased greatly: from 0.01 % in 2003 to 2.7 % in 2013 for solar power and from 1.4 % in 2003 to 7.5 % in 2013 for wind turbines.

Market shares

One measure that is used to monitor the extent of electricity market liberalisation is the market share of the largest generator in each country (see Figure 2). The small island nations of Cyprus and Malta were both characterised by a complete monopoly in 2013, with 100 % of their electricity being generated by the largest (sole) generator. Five other EU Member States — Estonia, Croatia, France, Slovakia and Latvia — reported shares of at least 80 %. In 11 of the 26 EU Member States for which data are available, the largest generator provided less than 50 % of the total electricity generated, with the lowest share (17 %) being recorded in Poland.

Household electricity consumption

During the 10-year period from 2003 to 2013, the consumption of electricity by households rose in the EU-28 by 5.1 % (see Figure 3). There was much faster growth in a number of EU Member States, in particular Romania, Lithuania, Spain and Latvia where growth was at least 25.0 %. At the other end of the range, household electricity consumption fell in seven Member States, generally by less than 10.0 %, but in Belgium the reduction in electricity consumption by households was almost one quarter (23.9 %). These figures on overall household electricity consumption are likely to be influenced, in part, by the average number of persons living in each household and by the total number of households — both of which are linked to demographic events. Other influences include the extent of ownership of electrical household appliances and consumer goods as well as the use of energy saving devices.

Data sources and availability

Electricity is produced as a primary or secondary product in power plants. The total amount of electricity produced is referred to as gross electricity production. However, power plants consume some electricity for their own use (in plant auxiliaries and in other transformers) and net electricity production is obtained by deducting this amount from gross production. The net production is distributed through national transmission and distribution grids to final consumers, transformed to heat in boilers or heat pumps, stored using pumped storage, or traded (exported or imported).

Final consumption of electricity covers the electricity delivered to the consumer’s door (industry, transport, households and other sectors); it excludes deliveries for transformation and / or own use of energy producing activities, as well as network losses.

The market share of electricity generators is based on their net electricity production, and as such the electricity used by generators for their own consumption is not taken into account.

Context

Since July 2004, small business consumers in the EU have been free to switch their gas or electricity supplier, and in July 2007 this right was extended to all consumers. Independent national regulatory authorities have been established across the EU Member States to ensure that suppliers and network companies operate correctly. However, a number of shortcomings were identified in the opening-up of markets, and it was therefore decided to embark upon a third legislative package of measures with the aim of ensuring that all users could take advantage of the benefits provided by a truly competitive energy market.

The European Commission launched its third legislative package to liberalise energy markets in September 2007. During 2009, a number of these proposals were adopted by the European Parliament and the Council:

  • Regulation 713/2009 of 13 July 2009 establishing an agency for the cooperation of energy regulators;
  • Regulation 714/2009 of 13 July 2009 on conditions for access to the network for cross-border exchanges in electricity and repealing Regulation 1228/2003;
  • Directive 2009/72/EC of 13 July 2009 concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity and repealing Directive 2003/54/EC; since March 2011, this Directive and others linked to the third legislative package have been transposed into national law.

On 17 November 2010, the European Commission presented its ‘Energy infrastructure priorities for 2020 and beyond — a blueprint for an integrated European energy network’ (COM(2010) 677), detailing priority corridors for the transport of electricity, gas and oil. This was given a legal basis in April 2013 through the European Parliament and Council’s Regulation on guidelines for trans-European energy infrastructure. Based on this, in October 2013, the European Commission adopted a list of 248 key energy infrastructure projects referred to as projects of common interest (PCI). It is intended that these will benefit from faster and more efficient planning procedures and improved regulatory treatment, as well as possibly accessing financial support from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). The list is composed of projects that are deemed to have significant benefits for at least two EU Member States, contribute to market integration and further competition, enhance the security of supply, and reduce CO2 emissions.

Improving infrastructure also features in the Energy Security Strategy (COM(2014) 330). This lists completing the internal energy market and building missing infrastructure links as one of the five areas for action. For more information see the introductory article on energy statistics.

The use of nuclear power for electricity generation received renewed attention amid concerns about an increasing dependency on imported primary energy, rising oil and gas prices, and commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These issues may be balanced against concerns over safety and waste from nuclear power plants, the safety issues being highlighted following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster that resulted from the Great East Japan (or Tōhoku) earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March 2011. While some EU Member States have continued with existing reactors or plans to construct new nuclear reactors others decided to review, and in some cases, changed policies for existing plants, as well as cancelling planned nuclear constructions. Following the accident in Fukushima, the legal and regulatory framework for the safety of nuclear installations established by Council Directive 2009/71 was reviewed. In July 2014, an amendment (Council Directive 2014/87) was adopted. Among its many objectives the amendment: strengthens the role and independence of national regulatory authorities; sets up an EU system of peer reviews for nuclear installations; aims to increase transparency on nuclear safety matters; lays down regular safety assessments of installations; and establishes new provisions for on-site emergency preparedness and response.

See also

Further Eurostat information

Publications

Main tables

Energy statistics - main indicators (t_nrg_indic)
Energy statistics - quantities (t_nrg_quant)
Energy statistics - prices (t_nrg_price)

Database

Energy statistics - quantities, annual data (nrg_quant)
Energy statistics - market structure indicators - natural gas and electricity (nrg_market)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

Source data for tables, figures and maps on this page (MS Excel)

Other information

  • Directive 2009/72 of 13 July 2009 concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity
  • Regulation 713/2009 of 13 July 2009 establishing an Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators
  • Regulation 714/2009 of 13 July 2009 on conditions for access to the network for cross-border exchanges in electricity

External links