Statistics Explained

Energy statistics - latest trends from monthly data


Data extracted in March 2022

Planned article update: April 2023

Highlights


COVID-19 restrictions in 2021 have a lesser effect on EU energy supplies than in 2020.

COVID-19 restrictions in 2021 extend drastic slump in consumption of kerosene-type jet fuel in Europe.


This interactive graph shows the EU total of all fuel types. Use the orange icon on the left to select the individual fuels and the graph will adapt to your choice.


2021: Almost back to (pre-COVID) normal

Since early 2020, EU Member States have been taking restrictive measures to slow down the spread of COVID-19. These measures included the closure of factories, schools and restaurants, and required people to confine themselves in their homes. In 2021 different waves of COVID-19 outbreaks appeared and countries reacted differently in the restrictive measures they imposed. Vaccines were developed and vaccination campaigns started in early 2021 and by the end of the year, a significant part of the population was vaccinated. This article looks at certain aspects of fuel supply from the recently available monthly data for 2021 for different fuels in the European Union (EU), and compares it with those of 2019 and 2020 to observe the trends and differences the COVID-19 pandemic may or may not have made in the EU's energy market.



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Electricity consumption

As most economic activities are dependent on electricity, electricity consumption is a possible indicator of the consequences of the restrictive measures. Figure 1 shows the total EU electricity consumption in Gigawatt hours (GWh) for the years 2019, 2020 and 2021. In spring 2020, the graph shows a drastic drop in electricity consumption as early as March, but being most prominent in April. This is in close correlation to the first imposed restrictions. While COVID-19 measures were initially imposed in most Member States in a rather uniform way, in 2021 measures were frequently lifted and re-imposed differently in individual Member States. The graph below includes the year 2019, the last pre-COVID year, as a base line. It also shows that in 2021 electricity consumption was almost back to pre-COVID normal.

Figure 1: Electricity consumed by end-users (electricity available to the internal market) in the EU in 2019, 2020 and 2021 in GWh
Source: Eurostat (nrg_cb_eim)

Figure 2 shows the difference in electricity consumption in each of the Member States between 2021 and 2019 and between 2020 and 2019 in percentages. Almost every Member State consumed less electricity in 2020 than in 2019. Only Estonia used 0.6 % more electricity and for Hungary the amount was the same as the year before. The comparison between 2021 and the pre-COVID year 2019 shows a different picture. Where, for example, Spain (-3.3 %), Greece (-2.9 %) and Portugal (-2.9 %) consumed less electricity, other Member States like Denmark (+7.0 %), Hungary (+6.0 %), Estonia (+5.8 %) and others consumed even more electricity than in 2019.

Figure 2:Electricity consumed by end-users (electricity available to the internal market), by country, 2021 and 2020 compared to 2019
Source: Eurostat (nrg_cb_em)

An important additional factor is the heating or cooling of space or water for which certain Member States mostly use electricity. When interpreting the data, the fact that each country has its own consumption pattern, and that these can be heavily dependent on outside temperatures, must be taken into account.

Coal consumption

The use of solid fossil fuels[1] in the EU has been declining steadily for years. Due to high CO2 prices (see EU emission trading scheme), many Member States have reduced their use of coal for electricity generation, and have favoured natural gas instead. Production of hard coal was stopped by several countries even before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, for example by Germany and Spain in 2018, however most EU countries still consume hard coal. Although the EU overall is using less coal, in 2021, 72 % of all consumed coal was delivered to electricity and heat generation plants[2](46 % of hard coal and 87 % of brown coal), producing 14 % of electricity needs for the EU.

Figure 3a shows the monthly consumption of hard coal in the EU in 2019, 2020 and 2021. Figure 3b shows the same but for brown coal. The lowest consumption levels were observed in early to mid-2020, but by the end of 2021 consumption of both hard coal and brown coal were back to the levels seen at the end of 2019.

Figure 3a: Hard coal consumption (gross inland deliveries - calculated) of EU in 2019, 2020 and 2021 in thousand tonnes
Source: Eurostat (nrg_cb_sffm)


Figure 3b: Brown coal consumption (gross inland deliveries - calculated) in 2019, 2020 and 2021 in thousand tonnes
Source: Eurostat (nrg_cb_sffm)

Figure 4 below indicates the differences in the consumption of hard coal within each Member State in 2020 and 2021, when compared to 2019 levels. Almost every country was consuming less hard coal in 2021 than in 2019. Slovenia increased its consumption in 2020 by 17.3 % compared to 2019. The only exception in 2021 was observed in Cyprus, where consumption increased by 109 % compared to 2019 (58 thousand tonnes compared to 28 thousand tonnes), but whose consumption in 2021 represents less than 1.0 % of the EU total for the same year. The biggest percentage decreases in hard coal consumption in 2021 when compared to 2019 levels were in Portugal (-88.8 %), Estonia (-69.0 %), Latvia (-60.0 %) and Spain (-52.6 %). The largest decreases in consumption of hard coal were in Poland, which consumed 11 100 thousand tonnes less (from 71 724 thousand tonnes in 2019 to 60 624 thousand tonnes in 2021) and in Spain, which consumed 3 853 thousand tonnes less (from 7 327 thousand tonnes in 2019 to 3 474 thousand tonnes in 2021).

Figure 4: Changes in hard coal consumption (gross inland deliveries - calculated) by country in %, 2020 and 2021 compared to 2019
Source: Eurostat (nrg_cb_sffm)

Consumption of petroleum products

The oil industry has seen some of the most remarkable differences when comparing energy data from the last three years. Three fuel types were chosen from the range of different petroleum products available, as it was felt these might provide the best examples of any influence of COVID-19 on energy supply.

Figures 5a, 5b and 5c below show the differences by month on the consumption of motor gasoline, kerosene-type jet fuel and gas and diesel oil within the Member States in 2020 and 2021 compared with 2019. The first restrictive measures in 2020 had a dramatic impact on the use of fuels for transport of people, heating and products, and none of the fuels has completely returned to pre-COVID levels since. The reintroduction of restrictive measures in the second half of 2020 appears to have had a lesser effect on these fuels.

Figure 5a: Motor gasoline consumption (gross inland deliveries - calculated) of EU in 2019, 2020 and 2021 in thousand tonnes
Source: Eurostat (nrg_cb_oilm)


Figure 5b: Kerosene-type jet fuel consumption (gross inland deliveries - calculated) of EU in 2019, 2020 and 2021 in thousand tonnes
Source: Eurostat (nrg_cb_oilm)


Figure 5c: Gas and diesel oil consumption (gross inland deliveries - calculated) of EU in 2019, 2020 and 2021 in thousand tonnes
Source: Eurostat (nrg_cb_oilm)

For motor gasoline, Figure 6, there is an overall decrease in consumption for most of the Member States in 2020 and 2021 compared to 2019 levels. The biggest drops in consumption were noted for Ireland, Luxembourg and Spain (more than a 20 % decrease in each). Only in Sweden and Lithuania did consumption grow in 2020 and 2021.

Data for 2021 shows that in most Member States consumption levels are still below 2019 figures but to a lesser extent than in 2020. However, consumption levels in Finland and Estonia in 2021 decreased even more so than the 2020 values. This is also visible in Germany and Latvia but to a much lesser extent. In 2020, consumption in Sweden and Lithuania continued to grow compared to 2019 levels. A similar situation but to a much lesser extent was reported by Poland, Romania, Belgium and France.

While in 2020 EU Member States showed a combined decrease in motor gasoline consumption of 11 % (from 74 million tonnes to 66 million tonnes) compared to 2019 levels, this value stands at a 5 % decrease in 2021 (from 74 million tonnes to 70.4 million tonnes in 2021). The four biggest economies of the EU: Spain, Germany, France and Italy, represent almost 60 % of the total motor gasoline consumption, and they jointly experienced a decrease of 11 % in 2020, from almost 44 million tonnes to 38.6 million tonnes. In 2021 their consumption was still 6 % below 2019 levels.

Figure 6: Changes in motor gasoline consumption (gross inland deliveries - calculated) by country in %, 2020 and 2021 compared to 2019
Source: Eurostat (nrg_cb_oilm)

Every Member State's air transport was profoundly affected, and consumption of kerosene-type jet fuel fell drastically in 2020 compared to 2019 (-56 %) and did not recover considerably in 2021 (still -46 %), as seen in Figure 7. The smallest reductions in consumption occurred in Luxembourg and in Belgium in 2020 and 2021. Largest reductions were observed in Croatia, Romania and Cyprus.

In absolute values, in 2020 Germany, Spain and France reduced consumption by 14 million tonnes, while in 2021 the reduced consumption in these Member States still totalled nearly 12 million tonnes.

Figure 7: Changes in kerosene-type jet fuel consumption (gross inland deliveries - calculated) by country in %, 2020 and 2021 compared to 2019
Source: Eurostat (nrg_cb_oilm)

In 2020 in almost all Member States (EU -7,4 %) the consumption of gas and diesel oil fell clearly, especially in Luxembourg, Italy, Spain and Slovenia (see Figure 8). Only in Finland, Cyprus[3] and Romania was consumption greater than in 2019. In 2021 EU wide consumption increased but was still below 2019 levels (-5,6 %). At Member State level, consumption in 2021 compared to 2019 levels fell to even lower levels than in 2020 (Luxembourg, Germany, the Netherlands and Greece), while another 10 Member States increased their use of gas and diesel oil above 2019 levels (Romania, Estonia, Croatia, Poland, Cyprus, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Czechia, Sweden and Latvia). All other Member States increased their consumption in 2021 but still remained on a level below 2019 figures. For 2021, Finland showed a consumption lower than in 2019. In absolute values, in 2020 the largest drop in consumption of gas and diesel oil compared to 2019 were in France (-5 million tonnes), Spain (-4 million tonnes) and Italy (-4 million tonnes), while in 2021 Germany reduced its consumption the most (-6 million tonnes), followed by France (-4 million tonnes) and Italy (-1 million tonnes).

Figure 8: Changes in gas and diesel oil consumption (gross inland deliveries - calculated) by country in %, 2020 and 2021 compared to 2019
Source: Eurostat (nrg_cb_oilm)

Gas consumption

Natural gas is used in the production of electricity and heat and in the EU, 20 % of all electricity produced is generated from natural gas, and 31 % of natural gas is used to generate electricity.

Figure 9 shows natural gas consumption in the EU for the last three years. At the EU level, the only visible reduction in consumption was in April 2020. In 2021 consumption is back to the pre-COVID situation, even slightly higher. For individual Member States the situation looks different (see figure 10).

Figure 9: Natural gas consumption (inland consumption - calculated) of EU in 2019, 2020 and 2021 in TJ
Source: Eurostat (nrg_cb_gasm)

Figure 10 shows the differences in consumption of natural gas for the years 2020 and 2021 compared with 2019. Many Member States (16) have shown in 2020 and 2021 an increased consumption of natural gas compared to 2019. Member States can be split into four groups.

  • Firstly, countries in which natural gas consumption fell in 2020 and 2021 compared to the year 2019. These were Latvia, Portugal, the Netherlands, Spain, Finland, France, Luxembourg, and Denmark.
  • Secondly, countries in which consumption grew in 2020 but fell in 2021 compared to 2019. These were Ireland and Croatia.
  • Thirdly, countries in which consumption fell in 2020 but grew in 2021 when compared to the year 2019. These were Austria, Germany, Italy, Estonia and Slovenia.
  • And lastly, countries in which consumption grew in both 2020 and 2021 compared to 2019. These were Belgium, Lithuania, Malta, Romania, Czechia, Hungary, Poland, Sweden, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Greece.
Figure 10: Changes in natural gas consumption (gross inland deliveries - calculated) by country in %, 2021 and 2020 compared to 2019
Source: Eurostat (nrg_cb_gasm)

Source data for tables and graphs


Data sources

All values for 2019, 2020 and 2021 were calculated by adding the monthly data for each calendar year. All data used in this article correspond to totals of monthly data and as such may differ from the annual data. The reporting is based on Energy Statistics Regulation (EC) No 1099/2008.

Context

To better monitor changes in the energy market, timely data is essential to all involved. Eurostat, therefore, not only collects detailed annual energy statistics but also a reduced number of data points on a monthly basis. This monthly energy data contains information on supply and a limited amount on consumption, but can be published within two to three months, providing very early data on the energy market in each Member State and in the EU as a whole.

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Database

Supply, transformation and consumption - commodity balances - monthly data (nrg_cb_m)
Supply and transformation of solid fossil fuels - monthly data (nrg_cb_sffm)
Supply and transformation of oil and petroleum products - monthly data (nrg_cb_oilm)
Supply, transformation and consumption of gas - monthly data (nrg_cb_gasm)
Supply, transformation and consumption of electricity - monthly data (nrg_cb_em)

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Notes

  1. This part of the article focuses on the two most widely used types of coal hard coal (anthracite and bituminous coal) and brown coal (lignite and sub-bituminous coal). Hard coal accounts for 63 % of the total coal supply in the EU, while brown coal accounts for 36 %.
  2. In monthly data, only data for main activity producers is available. Data for autoproducers is only available in annual data.
  3. Cyprus is an exception, because oil-products are the main fuel source for generating electricity.