Electricity production, consumption and market overview

From Statistics Explained

Data from March 2014. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: March 2015.
Table 1: Net electricity generation, 1990–2012
(1 000 GWh) - Source: Eurostat (nrg_105a)
Figure 1: Net electricity generation, EU-28, 2012 (1)
(% of total, based on GWh) - Source: Eurostat (nrg_105a)
Figure 2: Market share of the largest generator in the electricity market, 2011 (1)
(% of total generation) - Source: Eurostat (ten00119)
Figure 3: Electricity consumption by households, 2012
(2002 = 100) - Source: Eurostat (tsdpc310)

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.

The European Commission launched its third legislative package to liberalise energy markets in September 2007. These proposals were designed to: create a competitive energy market; expand consumer choice; promote fairer prices; result in cleaner energy; and promote the security of supply. In order to reach these goals, the proposals sought to: separate production and supply from transmission networks; facilitate cross-border collaboration, investment and trade in energy; introduce more effective regulation; encourage greater market transparency; and increase solidarity between EU Member States. The proposals led to Directive 2009/72/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning ‘Common rules for the internal market in electricity’. Since March 2011, this Directive and others linked to the third legislative package have been transposed into national law.

Main statistical findings

Electricity generation

Total net electricity generation in the EU-28 was 3.13 million gigawatt hours (GWh) in 2012 — which was almost the same level (-0.1 %) compared with the year before. This was the first year of relatively stable output after three years of historically quite large changes: a 5.0 % fall in electricity generation in 2009 at the height of the financial and economic crisis, a 4.7 % rebound the year after, followed by a further reduction of 2.2 % in 2011. As such, the level of net electricity generation in 2012 remained 2.8 % below its peak level of 2008 (3.22 million GWh).

Germany had the highest level of net electricity generation in 2012 among the EU Member States (see Table 1), accounting for 19.0 % of the EU-28 total, just ahead of France (17.2 %); the United Kingdom was the only other country with a double-digit share (11.1 %).

The pattern observed for the EU-28 of falling electricity generation in 2011 and 2012 was reproduced in 10 of the Member States, whereas only the Czech Republic, Malta, Slovakia and Sweden reported growth in both of these years. In 2012, the largest increase in electricity generation was recorded for Sweden and Austria, both with growth in excess of 10.0 %. By contrast, the Netherlands and Estonia recorded a contraction in generation that was close to 10.0 % and Portugal (-11.5 %) and Denmark (-12.9 %) saw their electricity generation fall by more than this amount.

More than one quarter of the net electricity generated in the EU-28 in 2012 came from nuclear power plants (26.7 %), while almost double this share (52.6 %) 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 2012 was from hydropower plants (11.6 %), followed by wind turbines (6.5 %) and solar power (2.2 %).

The relative importance of renewable energy sources in relation to EU-28 net electricity generation grew between 2002 and 2012 from 13.0 % to 20.5 %, while there was a relatively small decrease in the relative importance of combustible fuels from 55.3 % to 52.6 % and a larger reduction in the amount of electricity generated from nuclear power plants from 31.6 % to 26.7 %. Among the renewable energy sources, the proportion of net electricity generated from solar and wind increased greatly: from 0.01 % in 2002 to 2.2 % in 2012 for solar power and from 1.2 % in 2002 to 6.5 % in 2012 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 2011, with 100 % of their electricity being generated by the largest (sole) generator. Six other EU Member States — Estonia, France, Latvia, Greece, Croatia and Luxembourg — reported shares of at least 80 %. In 13 of the 26 Member States for which data are available, the largest generator provided less than 50.0 % of the total electricity generated, with the lowest share (18 %) being recorded in Poland.

Household electricity consumption

During the 10-year period from 2002 to 2012, the consumption of electricity by households rose in the EU-28 by 10.0 % (see Figure 3). There was much faster growth in a number of EU Member States, in particular Romania, Spain, Cyprus, Poland, Ireland, Greece and all three of the Baltic Member States — where growth was at least double the EU-28 average. At the other end of the range, household electricity consumption fell in four Member States — Denmark, Sweden, Slovakia and Belgium — in the latter 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.


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.

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 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 Member States, contribute to market integration and further competition, enhance the security of supply, and reduce CO2 emissions.

The use of nuclear power for electricity generation has 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. In June 2013, the European Commission proposed an amendment (COM(2013) 715 final) of the existing Directive establishing a framework for the nuclear safety of nuclear installations (Council Directive 2009/71). Among its many objectives the proposal aims to set up an EU system of peer reviews of nuclear installations, to increase transparency on nuclear safety matters, and to establish new provisions for on-site emergency preparedness and response.

See also

Further Eurostat information


Main tables

Energy statistics - main indicators (t_nrg_indic)
Market share of the largest generator in the electricity market (ten00119)
Electricity generated from renewable sources (tsdcc330)
Energy statistics - quantities (t_nrg_quant)
Total gross electricity generation (ten00087)
Electricity consumption by industry, transport activities and households/services (ten00094)
Electricity consumption by households (tsdpc310)
Energy statistics - prices (t_nrg_price)
Electricity prices by type of user (ten00117)


Energy statistics - main indicators (nrg_indic)
Market share of the largest generator in the electricity market - annual data (nrg_ind_331a)
Supply of electricity - monthly data (nrg_ind_342m)
Energy statistics - quantities, annual data (nrg_quant)
Energy statistics - supply, transformation, consumption (nrg_10)
Supply, transformation, consumption - electricity - annual data (nrg_105a)
Energy statistics - quantities, monthly data (nrg_quantm)
Energy statistics - supply, transformation, consumption (nrg_10m)
Supply - electricity - monthly data (nrg_105m)

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