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Electricity production, consumption and market overview

From Statistics Explained

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

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 used for generation. 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.

Table 1: Net electricity generation, 2000-2010
(1 000 GWh) - Source: Eurostat (nrg_105a)
Figure 1: Net electricity generation, EU-27, 2010
(% of total, based on GWh) - Source: Eurostat (nrg_105a)
Figure 2: Market share of the largest generator in the electricity market, 2010 (1)
(% of total generation) - Source: Eurostat (tsier060)
Figure 3: Electricity consumption by households, 2010
(2000=100) - Source: Eurostat (tsdpc310)

Main statistical findings

Electricity generation

Total net electricity generation in the EU-27 was 3.18 million gigawatt hours (GWh) in 2010 – which marked a 4.5 % increase compared with the year before and almost fully offset the reduction of 4.9 % that had been posted in 2009 (reflecting the impact of the financial and economic crisis) – see Table 1. As such, the level of net electricity generation in 2010 returned close to its peak level of 2008 (3.20 million GWh).

Germany had the highest level of net electricity generation in 2010 among the Member States, accounting for 18.6 % of the EU-27 total, just ahead of France (17.1 %); the United Kingdom was the only other country with a double-digit share (11.5 %).

The pattern observed for the EU-27 of falling electricity generation in 2009 and a recovery in 2010 was reproduced in the majority of the Member States. There were some notable differences however, as net electricity generation fell during consecutive years in Greece and Malta, while there was a reduction of 62.2 % in electricity generation in Lithuania in 2010; the latter may be attributed to the closure (at the end of 2009) of Lithuania’s last nuclear reactor. By contrast, neighbouring Estonia saw its net electricity generation rise by 48.8 % in 2010, in part due to an increase in renewable energy sources — combined heat and power plants consuming wood fuel and generation from wind energy.

More than one quarter of the net electricity generated in the EU-27 in 2010 came from nuclear power plants (27.3 %) while almost double this share (54.8 %) 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 2010 was from hydropower plants (12.2 %), followed by wind turbines (4.6 %) and solar power (0.7 %).

The relative importance of renewable energy sources in relation to EU-27 net electricity generation grew between 2000 and 2010, while there was little change in the relative importance of combustible fuels and a reduction in the amount of electricity generated from nuclear power plants. The share of net electricity generation from nuclear energy fell from 31.2 % in 2000 to 27.3 % in 2010. Among the renewable energy sources the proportion of net electricity generation from solar and wind increased greatly although the share of solar remained small, increasing from close to nothing in 2000 to 0.7 % by 2010; the share from wind turbines increased from 0.8 % in 2000 to 4.6 % by 2010.

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 2010, with 100 % of their electricity being generated by the largest (sole) generator. Five other Member States – Estonia, Latvia, France, Luxembourg and Greece – reported shares of at least 85 %. In 13 of the 24 Member States for which data are available, the largest generator provided less than 50 % of the total electricity generated, with the lowest share (17.4 %) being recorded in Poland.

Household electricity consumption

During the ten-year period from 2000 to 2010, the consumption of electricity by households rose in the EU-27 by 18.0 % (see Figure 3). There was much faster growth in a number of Member States, in particular Spain, Cyprus, Romania, Portugal, Poland and all three of the Baltic Member States – where growth was at least double the EU-27 average. At the other end of the range, household electricity consumption fell in four of the Member States – Sweden, Malta, Belgium and Slovakia – in the latter the reduction in electricity consumption by households was almost 20 %. 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.

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 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 followed on 19 October 2011 by a proposal for a Regulation on ‘Guidelines for trans-European energy infrastructure’ (COM(2011) 658 final), which seeks to ensure 12 priority corridors for strategic energy networks and storage facilities are completed by 2020.

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 have been balanced against long-standing concerns about safety and waste from nuclear power plants, which were highlighted during the immediate period following the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster that resulted from the Great East Japan (or Tohoku) earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March 2011. While some 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.

See also

Further Eurostat information


Main tables

Main indicators - Energy Statistics (t_nrg_indic)
Market share of the largest generator in the electricity market (tsier060)
Electricity generated from renewable sources (tsien050)
Energy Statistics - quantities (t_nrg_quant)
Total gross electricity generation (ten00087)
Electricity generation by origin: hard coal (ten00088)
Electricity generation by origin: petroleum products (ten00089)
Electricity generation by origin: natural gas (ten00090)
Electricity generation by origin: nuclear (ten00091)
Electricity generation by origin: hydroelectricity (ten00092)
Electricity generation by origin: wind (ten00093)
Consumption of electricity by industry, transport activities and households/services (ten00094)
Electricity consumption of households (tsdpc310)
Energy Statistics - prices (t_nrg_price)
Electricity prices by type of user (tsier040)
Electricity prices for large industrial standard consumers (ten00105)


Main indicators - Energy Statistics (nrg_indic)
Market share of the largest generator in the electricity market (nrg_ind_331a)
Energy Statistics - Euro-indicators in energy - monthly data (nrg_ind_34m)
Supply of electricity - monthly data (nrg_ind_342m)
Energy Statistics - quantities (nrg_quant)
Supply, transformation, consumption - electricity - annual data (nrg_105a)
Supply - electricity - monthly data (nrg_105m)

Methodology / Metadata

Other information

  • Directive 2009/72/EC 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

Source data for tables, figures and maps on this page (MS Excel)

External links