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Consumption of energy

From Statistics Explained

Data from August 2012. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database.

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-27 has developed, highlighting a shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, such as solar energy, wind power and biofuels; it also looks at the development of energy use by various transport modes.

Table 1: Gross inland consumption of primary energy, 2000-2010
(million tonnes of oil equivalent) - Source: Eurostat (ten00086)
Figure 1: Gross inland consumption, EU-27, 2000-2010
(% of total consumption) - Source: Eurostat (ten00086), (nrg_102a), (nrg_103a), (nrg_101a), (nrg_104a) and (nrg_1071a)
Table 2: Final energy consumption, 2000-2010
(million tonnes of oil equivalent) - Source: Eurostat (ten00095)
Figure 2: Energy intensity of the economy, 2000 and 2010
(kg of oil equivalent per EUR 1 000 of GDP) - Source: Eurostat (t2020_32)
Figure 3: Final energy consumption, EU-27, 2010 (1)
(% of total, based on tonnes of oil equivalent) - Source: Eurostat (tsdpc320)
Figure 4: Energy consumption by transport mode, EU-27, 2000-2010
(2000=100, based on tonnes of oil equivalent) - Source: Eurostat (tsdtr250)

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.

Main statistical findings


Gross inland consumption of primary energy within the EU-27 in 2010 was 1 759 million tonnes of oil equivalent (toe). Having remained relatively unchanged during the period from 2003 to 2008, gross inland consumption of primary energy decreased by 5.4 % in 2009 (see Table 1); 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 3.3 % rebound in the level of gross inland consumption of primary energy in the EU-27.

The gross inland consumption of each 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-27, gross inland consumption of primary energy fell in all of the Member States in 2009, with the exception of Denmark (where reductions in consumption were recorded already in 2008 and again in 2010). Consumption rebounded in 2010 in most of the Member States – with only Greece, Spain, Cyprus, Lithuania and Portugal recording consecutive contractions in consumption in 2009 and 2010 – possibly reflecting the low level of economic output and consumer confidence in several of these countries.

Germany had the highest level of gross inland consumption of primary energy in 2010, accounting for a 19.1 % share of the EU-27 total. France (15.3 %), the United Kingdom (12.1 %) and Italy (10.0 %) were the only other Member States to record double-digit shares; together these four countries accounted for 56.4 % of the EU-27’s gross inland consumption.

An analysis over the period from 2000 to 2010 shows that gross inland consumption of primary energy in the EU-27 rose, on average, by 0.2 % per annum. This pattern was repeated in most of the Member States – as only eight countries recorded a reduction in consumption during the period under consideration. Among those reporting a decrease, the largest contraction in consumption was recorded in the United Kingdom (-0.9 % per annum). By contrast, the highest rates of growth were recorded for Luxembourg and Estonia, where the gross inland consumption of primary energy rose, on average, by 2.5 % and 2.1 % per annum.

Figure 1 provides information on the energy mix during the period 2000 to 2010. It shows that there was a gradual decline in the share of crude oil and petroleum products, solid fuels, and nuclear energy, while an increasing share of EU-27 gross inland consumption was accounted for by renewable energy sources and natural gas. The combined share of crude oil, petroleum products and solid fuels fell from 56.9 % of total consumption in 2000 to 51.0 % by 2010, reflecting a move away from the most polluting fossil fuels; there was also a modest decline in the share of nuclear energy (0.7 percentage points) although its share was relatively stable between 2007 and 2010. During the same period, the relative importance of natural gas rose by 2.3 percentage points, to account for more than one quarter (25.1 %) of the EU-27’s gross inland consumption in 2010.

However, the biggest change in the energy mix was the growth in the relative importance of renewable energy sources; their share of EU-27 gross inland consumption of primary energy increased by 4.2 percentage points between 2000 and 2010, to reach 9.8 %, a growth rate of 74 %. Renewable energy sources accounted for more than one third of gross inland consumption of primary energy in Latvia (34.6 %) and Sweden (33.9 %) in 2010, and their share was close to one quarter of the total in Austria (26.2 %) and Finland (24.5 %). The fastest expansion between 2000 and 2010 in the consumption of energy from renewable energy sources was recorded in Denmark and Portugal, where the share of renewable energy sources rose by 11.0 and 7.5 percentage points respectively, such that they accounted for more than one fifth of gross inland energy consumption of primary energy.

EU-27 final energy consumption (in other words, excluding energy used by power producers) was equivalent to just under two thirds (65.6 %) of gross inland consumption, at 1 153 million toe in 2010. The relative shares of the four largest Member States were similar to those recorded for gross inland consumption of primary energy; between them they accounted for 55.8 % of the EU-27’s final energy consumption, with the highest share registered in Germany (18.8 %) – see Table 2.

The lowest levels of energy intensity – a measure of an economy’s energy efficiency – were recorded for Denmark and Ireland in 2010, while the most energy-intensive Member States were Bulgaria, Estonia and Romania (see Figure 2). It should be noted that the economic structure of an economy plays an important role in determining energy intensity, as post-industrial economies with large service sectors will, a priori, display relatively low energy intensity rates, while developing economies may have a considerable proportion of their economic activity within industrial sectors, thus leading to higher energy intensity.

Between 2000 and 2010, substantial energy savings were made in the Bulgarian and Romanian economies, as well as in Lithuania, Slovakia, the United Kingdom, Poland and the Czech Republic, as the amount of energy required to produce a unit of economic output (as measured by gross domestic product (GDP)) was reduced by at least one fifth. Austria was the only Member State to report that its energy intensity rose between 2000 and 2010, although it remained one of the least energy-intensive economies.


An analysis of the final end use of energy in the EU-27 in 2010 shows three dominant categories: namely, transport (31.7 %), households (26.7 %) and industry (25.3 %) – see Figure 3.

The total energy consumption of all transport modes in the EU-27 amounted to 365.2 million toe in 2010. There were considerable differences in the development of energy consumption across transport modes, with rapid growth for international aviation (22.9 % between 2000 and 2008). However, there followed a considerable reduction in energy consumption for international aviation in 2009, down 7.4 %, and this pattern continued in 2010 albeit at a much slower pace (-1.4 %). Nevertheless, as shown in Figure 4, international aviation had the highest growth in EU-27 energy consumption among the main transport modes between 2000 and 2010 – rising 12.2 % overall, while there was also an upward progression in the consumption of energy for road transport (7.2 %). In a similar vein to international aviation, there was a considerable downturn in the consumption of energy for domestic aviation during 2008 and 2009, and despite a small increase in consumption in 2010, the energy consumed by domestic aviation was 5.9 % lower than in 2000. There was a relatively slow and gradual decline in the consumption of energy for rail, which fell by 8.9 % between 2000 and 2010.

The largest increase in energy consumption among the different transport modes, in absolute terms, was recorded for road transport, where EU-27 consumption rose by 20.0 million toe between 2000 and 2010, compared with a 4.7 million toe increase for international aviation. There was almost no change in the level of energy consumption for inland waterways, while the consumption of energy for domestic aviation fell by 0.4 million toe and that for rail by 0.7 million toe. 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 may be 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; 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 2000 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 June 2011 by a proposal for a Directive on energy efficiency. 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 SMEs, 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.

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’ 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.

Despite falls in the amount of energy consumed for transport in 2008 and 2009 (at least, in part, reflecting the impact of the financial and economic crisis), an analysis of a longer time series shows that transport was the fastest growing consumer of energy and producer of greenhouse gases, even if advances in transport technology and fuel have resulted in marked decreases in emissions of certain pollutants. 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, 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 in demand for energy for transport is not confined to business, as it has been accompanied by an expansion in personal travel. 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 increase the demand for energy as a result of personal travel.

See also

Further Eurostat information


Main tables

Energy Statistics - quantities (t_nrg_quant)
Share of renewables in gross inland energy consumption (tsdcc110)
Gross inland consumption of primary energy (ten00086)
Gross inland energy consumption, by fuel (tsdcc320)
Consumption of electricity by industry, transport activities and households/services (ten00094)
Final energy consumption (ten00095)
Final energy consumption, by sector (tsdpc320)
Final energy consumption of petroleum products (ten00096)
Final energy consumption of electricity (ten00097)
Final energy consumption of natural gas (ten00098)
Final energy consumption by industry (ten00099)
Final energy consumption by transport (ten00100)
Energy consumption of transport, by mode (tsdtr100)
Final energy consumption by households, trades, services, etc. (ten00101)
Electricity consumption of households (tsdpc310)
Energy dependency (tsdcc310)
Combined heat and power generation (tsien030)
Share of biofuels in fuel consumption of transport (tsdcc340)


Energy Statistics - quantities (nrg_quant)
Energy Statistics - supply, transformation, consumption (nrg_10)
Supply, transformation, consumption - all products - annual data (nrg_100a)
Supply, transformation, consumption - solid fuels - annual data (nrg_101a)
Supply, transformation, consumption - oil - annual data (nrg_102a)
Supply, transformation, consumption - gas - annual data (nrg_103a)
Supply, transformation, consumption - electricity - annual data (nrg_105a)
Supply, transformation, consumption - heat - annual data (nrg_106a)
Supply, transformation, consumption - renewables and wastes (total, solar heat, biomass, geothermal, wastes) - annual data (nrg_1071a)
Supply, transformation, consumption - renewables (hydro, wind, photovoltaic) - annual data (nrg_1072a)
Supply, transformation, consumption - renewables (biofuels) - annual data (nrg_1073a)

Methodology / Metadata

Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)

External links