Electricity production, consumption and market overview
Data extracted in August 2021.
Planned article update: February 2022.
Total net electricity generation in the EU was 2 780 TWh in 2019.
More than half (56.4 %) of the net electricity generated in the EU in 2019 came from non-combustible primary sources.
Net electricity generation, EU, 1990-2019
This article describes the electricity market in the European Union (EU) with an analysis of electricity production/generation (the two terms are used synonymously) according to a range of different energy sources. It also provides information concerning electricity consumption by households and concludes with statistics on the level of market liberalisation (as measured by the share of the largest generator) within electricity markets.
Total net electricity generation in the EU was 2 778 Terawatt hours (TWh) in 2019 — which was almost similar to the year before (see Figure 1). The level of net electricity generation in the EU in 2019 was 2.3 % lower than its relative peak of 2008, when total output stood at 2 844 TWh.
Germany had the highest level of net electricity generation in 2019 among the EU Member States, accounting for 20.8 % of the EU total, just ahead of France (19.7 %); Italy (10.2 %) was the only other Member State with a double-digit share.
During the period covering 2009 to 2019, there was an overall increase of 3.1 % in the level of EU net electricity generation (see Figure 2). This pattern was repeated in 15 of the 27 EU Member States. The largest overall increases were registered in Sweden(24.2 %), Latvia (14.9 %) and Ireland (11.4 %). By contrast, among 12 EU Member States where there was a lower level of electricity generation in 2019 (compared with 2009), double-digit contractions were recorded in Lithuania, Luxembourg, Greece, Denmark and Estonia.
It should be noted that changes in electricity generation do not directly reflect changes in electricity consumption as they are also affected by changes in the different energy products used for energy production and by changes in electricity imports and exports.
Between 2018 and 2019, the largest annual increases in electricity generation were recorded for Belgium (24.9 %), Lithuania (13.6 %) and Austria (8.7 %). At the other end of the scale, there were 16 EU Member States which reported a fall in their level of electricity generation in 2019, with the largest reductions in Estonia (-39.6 %), Luxembourg (-13.6 %) and Portugal (-10.3 %).
More than half (56.4 %) of the net electricity generated in the EU in 2019 came from non-combustible primary sources. Less than half (43.6 %) came from combustible fuels (such as natural gas, coal and oil). A quarter (26.2 %) came from nuclear power stations. Among the renewable energy sources shown in Figure 3, the highest share of net electricity generation in 2019 was from wind turbines (13.0 %), followed by hydropower plants (12.2 %) and solar power (4.5 %).
The relative significance of renewable energy sources in relation to EU net electricity generation grew between 2009 and 2019 from 18.3 % to 30.0 %, while there was a relatively large decrease in the significance of combustible fuels from 52.5 % to 45.6 % and also a reduction in the share of electricity generated from nuclear power plants from 29.1 % to 26.2 %. Among the renewable energy sources, the proportion of net electricity generated from solar and wind increased greatly: from 0.5 % in 2009 to 4.5 % in 2019 for solar power and from 4.5 % in 2009 to 13 % in 2019 for wind turbines.
Household electricity consumption
During the 10-year period from 2009 to 2019, the consumption of electricity by households rose in the EU by 0.8 % (see Figure 4). 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 and use of electrical household appliances and consumer goods as well as the use of energy saving devices.
Electricity consumption by households rose at a much faster rate than the EU average between 2009 and 2019 in Malta (where the overall growth was 45.7 %), while an increase of 23.1 % was recorded for Slovakia and a rise of 17.8 % in Romania. At the other end of the scale, household electricity consumption fell in 7 of the EU Member States, generally by less than 17.5 %. Among these seven Member States with decreases in electricity consumption, the largest reductions were recorded in Latvia (17.5 %), Germany (9.1 %) and Belgium (8.8 %).
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 5).Cyprus has a complete monopoly in both 2009 and 2019, with 100 % of their electricity being generated by the largest (sole) generator. Three other EU Member States — Latvia, Croatia and Estonia — reported shares of at least 70 %. In 15 of the 24 Member States for which data are available (no data for Bulgaria, the Netherlands and Austria), the largest electricity generator provided less than 50 % of the market, with the lowest share (11.8 %) being reported for Poland and Finland (15.8 %). Especially for Poland, the reported largest electricity generator share corresponds to a unit of a larger operator.
An analysis of developments between 2009 and 2019 reveals that among the 22 EU Member States for which data are available (no data for Bulgaria, Austria and the Netherlands; incomplete data for Austria and Luxembourg), only two saw an increase in the market share of their leading electricity generator. The most rapid developments were in Malta, Greece, Lithuania, Belgium, Slovakia and France where the largest generator lost at least 20 % of its own market share. There was one Member State where there was no change in the market share of the largest generator (Cyprus), while the two Member States where the share of the largest generator within the electricity generation market increased were Ireland (7 %) and Romania (2.5 %).
Source data for tables and graphs
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. 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.
In December 2019, the EU Green Deal The European Green Deal (COM(2019) 640 final) was adopted. Through the EU Green Deal, the European Commission provides an action plan to boost the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy and restore biodiversity and cut pollution. The EU aims to be climate neutral in 2050. The framework for achieving climate neutrality is provided by the EU Green Deal European Climate Law (COM(2020) 80 final). Reaching this target will require action by all sectors of our economy, including investing in environmentally-friendly technologies, supporting industry to innovate, rolling out cleaner, cheaper and healthier forms of private and public transport, decarbonising the energy sector, ensuring buildings are more energy efficient and working with international partners to improve global environmental standards.
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. They were repelled in 2019:
- Regulation (EU) 2019/942 of 5 June 2019 establishing a European Union Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators;
- Regulation (EU) 2019/943 of 5 June 2019 on the internal market for electricity;
- Directive (EU) 2019/944 of 5 June 2019 on common rules for the internal market for electricity.
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 final), 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 (EU) No 347/2013 on guidelines for trans-European energy infrastructure. Based on this, the European Commission has been adopting a list of 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 carbon dioxide emissions.
Improving infrastructure also features in the Energy Security Strategy (COM(2014) 330 final). This lists completing the internal energy market and building missing infrastructure links as one of five priority 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.
- Energy (t_nrg), see:
- Energy statistics - main indicators (t_nrg_indic)
- Energy statistics - quantities (t_nrg_quant)
- Energy statistics - prices (t_nrg_price)
- Energy (nrg), see:
- Energy statistics - quantities, annual data (nrg_quanta)
- Energy statistics - market structure indicators - natural gas and electricity (nrg_market)
- Shedding light on energy in the EU — A guided tour of energy statistics (digital publication) — 2016 edition
- Energy balance sheets — 2017 data — 2019 edition
- Energy balance sheets — 2016 data — 2018 edition
- Energy balance sheets — 2015 data — 2017 edition
- Energy balance sheets — 2014 data — 2016 edition
- Energy balance sheets — 2013 data — 2015 edition
- Energy balance sheets — 2011-2012 — 2014 edition
- Energy, transport and environment statistics — 2019 edition
- Supply, transformation and consumption — commodity balances (ESMS metadata file — nrg_cb_esms)
- Energy Statistics Manual
- Directive 2009/72 of 13 July 2009 concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity
- Summaries of EU legislation: Internal market in electricity
- Regulation (EC) No 713/2009 of 13 July 2009 establishing an Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators
- Summaries of EU legislation: Agency for cooperation between EU energy regulators
- Regulation (EC) No 714/2009 of 13 July 2009 on conditions for access to the network for cross-border exchanges in electricity
- Summaries of EU legislation: Cross-border exchanges in electricity