Energy balances - early estimates

Data extracted in June 2019.

Planned update: June 2020.


This article presents the estimated evolution of the energy supply across the EU in 2018 as compared with 2017. It is based on preliminary annual energy data transmitted by reporting countries within 5 months after the end of the reference period. This improved timeliness is the result of Eurostat's response to policy needs and has been elaborated in close cooperation with reporting countries. Final annual energy data is published by Eurostat 13 months after the end of the reference period (2017 data were available at the end of January 2019).

The sections below present the highlights for the EU-28 aggregate. All detailed national data for the supply side of energy commodities are presented in the MS Excel files at the end of this article.

Figure 1: Index of inland consumption for renewable energy in the EU-28

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Electricity & heat

The total electricity supply in the EU-28 in 2018 increased very slightly (+0.3 %) compared with 2017. Preliminary data indicates significant annual variations between various fuel sources. The electricity generation was characterised by an increase in electricity from renewable sources: hydro production (+14.0 % or +46.4 terawatt hours (TWh)), wind production (+4.6 % or +16.7 TWh), solar (+6.7 % or +8.0 TWh) and solid biofuels (+5.4 % or 5.1 TWh). In an opposite trend, the production of electricity from key fossil fuels has decreased: natural gas (-6.0 % or -39.6 TWh), other bituminous coal (-10.5 % or -35.5 TWh) and lignite (-3.9 % or -11.7 TWh). In comparison with 2017, the output of nuclear power plants is estimated to be slightly lower in 2018 (-0.7 % or -5.6 TWh). These variations are driven by changes to the energy system as well as by weather patterns (e.g. significant water shortages for hydro plants in several southern EU countries observed in 2017 compared with 2018).

Table 1: Electricity supply in the EU-28

Total derived heat supply in the EU-28 in 2018 is estimated to decrease by 0.5 % compared with 2017. Preliminary data indicates a decrease of heat production by -5.5 % or -35 petajoules (PJ) from solid fossil fuels (coals and manufactured gases, peat and oil shale and oil sands), -3.6 % or -16 PJ from solid biofuels and -3.8 % or -10 PJ from wastes (industrial waste and renewable/non-renewable municipal waste). At the same time, an increased heat production is expected from natural gas (+2.9 % or +26 PJ). Other sources contribute significantly less to the total heat production and preliminary data indicates mixed trends. More details and country specific preliminary data are available in the MS Excel files at the end of the article.

Table 2: Derived heat supply in the EU-28

Natural gas

Preliminary 2018 data indicates a continuation of the decrease in the domestic production of natural gas (-9.0 % compared with 2017). In relation to the decreasing production, the imports of natural gas have increased by 0.8 % and exports decreased by 4.5 % during 2018. Overall the inland consumption is estimated to be 2.0 % lower in 2018 than in 2017 (see Table 3). The MS Excel file available at the end of the article provides details for each country.

Table 3: Natural gas supply in the EU-28


Preliminary 2018 data indicates that the demand of refineries for primary oil (such as crude oil) decreased slightly (-1.7 %); a similar trend was also noticed for the supply of refined petroleum products from refineries (-1.2 %). The elements contributing to this change show mixed trends (see Table 4). Gross inland deliveries of all petroleum products to the EU market decreased very slightly in 2018 (-0.2 %). However, notable increases were indicated for jet kerosene (+8.7 %) and other kerosene (+8.7 %). Gross inland deliveries of motor gasoline in 2018 were near the level of 2017 and gas/diesel oil deliveries decreased by 1.7 % (see Table 5). Gas/diesel oil followed by motor gasoline were the most significant oil products refined in the EU, accounting for nearly 60 % of the total refinery output. More details and country specific preliminary data are available in the MS Excel file for oil.

Table 4: Oil and petroleum products supply in the EU-28

Table 5: Refinery gross output in the EU-28

Solid fossil fuels (coal) and manufactured gases

Preliminary 2018 data indicates an overall decrease in the supply of coal, compared with the previous year. Inland consumption of lignite decreased by 14.2 Mt (-3.7 %), other bituminous coal decreased by 14.1 Mt (-7.7 %) and coking coal decreased by 3.5 Mt (-6.0 %). These three main coal types drive the overall trends in the decreasing supply and thus also the consumption. Other solid fossil fuels decreased too: coke oven coke (-2.0 % or -0.8 Mt) and oil shale and oil sand (-2.2 % or -0.5 Mt). The MS Excel file available at the end of the article provide details on indigenous production, imports, exports and stock changes for each type of coal as well as country specific data.

Table 6: Supply of solid fossil fuels and manufactured gases in the EU-28

Renewables and waste

Preliminary 2018 data indicates that the use of renewable energies increased in 2018. As seen in Table 1, electricity generated from several renewable sources recorded relatively high increases (hydro +14.0 %, solar +6.7 %, solid biofuels +5.4 %, wind +4.6 %, biogas +0.6 %). However, some renewables also saw decreases for electricity production, in particular electricity from geothermal energy (-1.4 %). Supply of combustible renewables has also increased (see Table 7). These increases concern mainly liquid biofuels (biodiesel +9.3 %, biogasoline +7.1 %), biogases (+1.3 %) and solid biofuels (+0.2 %). While the use of industrial waste for energy purposes increased by 0.5 %, municipal waste (renewable and non-renewable) decreased (-1.0 % and -1.4 % respectively). Preliminary data also indicate a decrease in the use of geothermal energy and solar thermal energy in 2018. More details and country specific preliminary data are available in the MS Excel file for renewables and waste.

Table 7: Supply of renewables and wastes in the EU-28

Data sources


Timeliness and accuracy of the input data Currently, the official energy annual data (the European statistics on energy) is published in a harmonised form of commodity/energy balance by Eurostat 13 months after the end of the reference period (2015 data were available at the end of January 2017, 2016 data were available at the end of January 2018, etc.). Consequently in the documents of the Energy Union Report from November 2015, the latest data available cover the reference year 2013, i.e. almost 2 years after the end of the reference period or "year-2". This is not optimal for a proper monitoring process and it is therefore essential to find ways to reduce this 'gap'. This could be achieved in several different ways:

  • by finding solutions for improving the timeliness and accuracy of the existing statistical annual data collections
  • by developing suitable new statistical data collections
  • by estimation/modelling techniques.

Timeliness, quality control and continuity of the monitoring process The process of aggregating input data in order to produce relevant indicators is complex. It requires the collection of data, their validation and aggregation into indicators, all of this in a timely and accurate manner. The compilation and analysis in this process is time-consuming and efforts are needed to further automatize the process in order to efficiently provide high quality results. There is a strong need to have a database for ensuring the continuity of the monitoring process over time. Therefore some developments are necessary in order to reduce the administrative burden of the process, to avoid potential human errors when processing data into indicators and to increase flexibility to cope with potential changes in the monitoring process or indicators.

Transparency of the monitoring process The monitoring process should be done in a transparent manner. In other words, the indicators should be publicly available in an understandable visual presentation (including graphs and data tables) together with the calculation/estimation methodology.

The development of solutions The European Commission (DG Energy and Eurostat) is developing short term and long term solutions. During 2016, DG Energy undertook an exploratory study to try to identify ways of having early estimates or earlier preliminary data on 2015 energy consumption. The future activities of DG Energy are planned to be complementary to Eurostat deliveries – whenever available, official statistics will be used as the primary source of information.

Eurostat response to policy needs In March 2016 Eurostat initiated intensive cooperation with reporting countries in the Energy Statistics Working Group (ESWG) and launched the Energy Statistics Task Force on Early Estimates of Energy Balances. The cooperation with countries resulted in dissemination of preliminary data[1] of the 2017 supply side of the energy balance in July 2018, thus 7 months after the end of the reference period. For year 2018, the preliminary supply side data were published in June 2019, thus 6 months after the end of reference period. The published data are to be considered as preliminary that will be revised upon delivery of data as defined in Regulation (EC) No 1099/2008 on energy statistics. Further developments in the upcoming years are planned on delivering estimates of the key aggregates of the consumption side of energy balance. Eurostat together with reporting countries will develop a methodology to produce early estimates of energy balances and will further analyse their accuracy. When the high quality of the results is confirmed, Eurostat will proceed with the dissemination of early estimates of energy balances too.

The methodology Data collections (including eventual estimation) is done at national level by respective National Statistical Institutes or Other National Authorities transmitting data to Eurostat. Eurostat does not publish any estimates for values not transmitted by individual reporting countries. However, for the purpose of presenting the EU aggregate, some missing values need to be estimated for a very limited number of reporting countries. These Eurostat estimates are not present on data sheets with national data and were used only for the improvement of the accuracy of the EU aggregate.

The results The MS Excel files below include all national results - data from the MS Excel questionnaires were extracted and grouped by country. These data should be considered as preliminary for the reference year 2018; these are not final data for policy evaluation or official monitoring of developments towards legally binding targets.

The limitations The exercise on developing early estimates of energy balances is currently under development by Eurostat and the Energy Statistics Task Force on the Early Estimates of Energy Balances. It is yet to be seen if the preliminary data provided by reporting countries can be used only to create an accurate estimate of the supply side of energy balance or also the estimate of consumption side of energy balance. Eurostat, in pursuing the approach of full transparency, publishes the collected data (the input into the project in the form of the so called "mini-questionnaires"). Thus the limitations as for any statistics under development should apply also for these data.


The Energy Union

Energy Union

The need for energy balances earlier The European Commission launched in February 2015 a new strategy for a resilient Energy Union with a forward-looking climate change policy. The Energy Union strategy has mutually-reinforcing and closely interrelated dimensions designed to bring greater energy security, sustainability and competitiveness. The aim of the Energy Union is to provide a new integrated, cooperative and more effective framework for common EU energy and climate policies providing to the European consumers – households and businesses – secure, affordable, competitive and sustainable energy. The first State of the Energy Union report stated the following: "In order to track progress, a transparent monitoring system has to be put in place based on key indicators as well as on Member States' biannual reports concerning progress made on their national plans. The Commission intends to assess collective progress made at the EU level in its annual State of the Energy Union and, if necessary, propose policy actions and measures to ensure the delivery of the Energy Union objectives".

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  1. While most countries provide preliminary data, some countries are able to provide final data and other countries can provide estimates.