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Energy trends

From Statistics Explained

Data from February 2014. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: February 2015.

This article provides an overview of the energy economy in the European Union (EU) in 2012, based on annual data from each Member State. Trends are shown for the main energy commodities for primary energy production, imports and exports, gross inland consumption and final energy consumption.

Figure 1: Primary energy production, EU-28, 1990-2012, thousands TJ
Source: Eurostat Energy (nrg)
Figure 2: Imports of selected energy products, EU-28, 1990-2012, thousands TJ
Source: Eurostat Energy (nrg)
Figure 3: Exports of selected energy products, EU-28, 1990-2012, thousands TJ
Source: Eurostat Energy (nrg)
Figure 4: Gross inland energy consumption, EU-28, 1990-2012, thousands TJ
Source: Eurostat Energy (nrg)
Figure 5: Gross inland energy consumption, EU-28, 1990-2012, thousands TJ
Source: Eurostat Energy (nrg)
Figure 6: National shares of fuels in gross inland energy consumption, 2012, percentage
Source: Eurostat Energy (nrg)
Figure 7: Gross inland energy consumption per capita, 1990-2000-2012, GJ per capita
Source: Eurostat Energy (nrg),Population (populat)
Figure 8: Structural shares of energy use in main categories of energy balances, EU-28, 1990-2012, percentage
Source: Eurostat Energy (nrg)
Figure 9: Final energy consumption by fuel, EU-28, 1990-2012, thousands TJ
Source: Eurostat Energy (nrg)
Figure 10: Final energy consumption by sector, EU-28, 1990-2012, thousands TJ
Source: Eurostat Energy (nrg)
Figure 11: Non-energy consumption by fuel, EU-28, 1990-2012, thousands TJ
Source: Eurostat Energy (nrg)
Figure 12: Energy dependency by fuel, EU-28, 1990-2000-2012 thousands TJ
Source: Eurostat Energy (nrg)
Figure 13: Energy intensity of the economy, 2000-2005-2012,
kg toe/1 000 EUR GDP
Source: Eurostat (tsdec360)
Map 1: Energy intensity of the economy, 2012
Source: Eurostat (tsdec360)

Main statistical findings

Gross inland energy consumption in the EU-28 in 2012 was 1 % lower than in 2011. Oil (crude oil and petroleum products) continues to be the most important energy source for the European economy, despite the long-term downward trend, while natural gas remains the second most important energy source.

Primary energy production

Primary production of energy within the EU-28 in 2012 was a little bit more than 33 million TJ, only 1 % lower than in 2011. The biggest decrease was in petroleum products (10 %) which continue to decrease year by year, followed by gas production with a 6 % decrease, while the only increase was registered by renewables energies with 9 % (Figure 1). Nuclear heat accounted for the highest share in primary energy production in EU-28 in 2012 (29 %), followed by renewable energies (22 %), solid fuels (21 %), gas (17 %), petroleum products (10 %) and non-renewable wastes (2 %).

Over the past decade (2002-2012), the trend in primary energy production was negative for most energy sources. Petroleum products accounted for the biggest decrease (54 %) while gas production fell by 35 %. However, there was a positive trend in production of renewable energies over the same period, with a 81 % increase.

Imports and exports

The decrease of primary energy production in the EU-28 over the past decade resulted in increased imports of primary energy and energy products. The quantity of imported natural gas doubled over the period 1994–2012 to nearly 14.5 million TJ (Figure 2), although there is a slight decrease over the last two years. Crude oil ranked next in terms of quantities imported, though for 2012, the figure was 23 million TJ, 9 % lower than in 2008.

Exports are much lower than imports (Figure 3). In 2012, gas/diesel oil (4.2 million TJ) ranked highest, followed by natural gas (3.7 million TJ) and gasoline (3.3 million TJ).

Gross inland energy consumption

Gross inland energy consumption in the EU-28 in 2012 was nearly 70.5 million TJ, 1 % lower than in 2011 (Figure 4). It was relatively stable during the period 1990-2012, with a strong decrease in 2009 as a result of the financial and economic crises[1]. In 2009, gross inland energy consumption decreased by 6 % compared to 2008. The sharpest decrease was in solid fuels by 12 %, followed by natural gas and petroleum products by 6 % each (Figure 5).

There was a recovery by 2010, when gross inland energy consumption increased by nearly 4 %, followed by another decrease in 2011 and 2012, so gross inland consumption in 2012 was just below the level recorded in 2009. A 4% drop in petroleum products accounted for the biggest decrease in 2012, while renewable energies recorded the biggest increase (9%).

As for the structure of gross inland energy consumption in 2012, petroleum products held the biggest share (34 %), followed by gas (23 %) and solid fossil fuels (17 %). The share of nuclear heat was 14 % and renewables accounted for 11 % (Figure 6). Since 1990, the amount and share of solid fuels has fallen significantly (from 27 % in 1990, to 19 % in 2000, to 17 % in 2012). On the other hand, renewable energy sources have increased their share of the total, from 4 % in 1990, to 6 % in 2000, to 11 % in 2012, while gas has risen from 18 % in 1990, to 23 % in 2000 and 2012.

The mixture of fuels and their shares in gross inland energy consumption in different countries depends on the natural resources available, the structure of their economies and also national choices in energy systems. In Estonia and Poland in 2012, over half of gross inland consumption was covered by solid fossil fuels (Figure 6). The average in EU-28 was 17 %.

The smallest shares of solid fossil fuels in gross inland energy consumption (under 2 %) in 2012 were observed in Luxembourg, Cyprus and Malta. The same three countries had the biggest shares of total petroleum products in gross inland energy consumption: Malta 99 %, Cyprus 95 % and Luxembourg 63 %.

In Czech Republic and Estonia, the share of petroleum products was under 20 % in 2012. Natural gas accounted for shares varying from over 40 % in the Netherlands to under 2 % in Sweden. In three countries, Latvia, Austria and Sweden, renewable energies accounted for over 30 % of their gross inland energy consumption in 2012. Natural gas was an important energy source in 2012 in the Netherlands, Lithuania, Hungary, Italy and the United Kingdom, with a share of over a third.

In 2012, there were 14 Member States with nuclear power plants. The highest nuclear share was in France (a 42 % share of nuclear heat in gross inland energy consumption), followed by Sweden with 32%.

In 2012, Luxembourg, Finland, Sweden, Belgium, and the Netherlands had gross inland consumption over 200 GJ per capita. In Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Portugal, Croatia and Romania, consumption was under 100 GJ per capita (Figure 7). This indicator is influenced by the structure of industry in each country, as well as by other factors, such as fuel tourism in the case of Luxembourg.

The biggest increase in gross inland consumption per capita between 1990 and 2012 was observed in Malta (64 %), followed by Austria (22 %), while the biggest decrease was observed in Lithuania (45 %) and Germany (31 %). In some countries, gross inland consumption per capita decreased between 1990 and 2000 and then rose between 2000 and 2012 (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland and Romania). The biggest difference in absolute terms was seen in Latvia, where gross inland consumption per capita decreased by 45 % between 1990 and 2000, then rose by 37 % in the period up until 2012. In other countries, the picture was reversed: there was an increase in gross inland consumption per capita from 1990 to 2000, then a decrease up until 2012 in Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Portugal, and the United Kingdom. In Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Slovenia and Finland, gross inland consumption per capita increased over both periods, while in Germany, Hungary, Slovakia and in Sweden, gross inland consumption per capita decreased in both periods.

Figure 8 shows the structural split of gross inland energy consumption in the EU-28 by main categories of energy balance. In 2012, the biggest share of energy in EU-28 was used in energy transformation[2] (29%), followed by the transport sector (21 %), residential and industry sector (17 %), services (9 %), non-energy use (6 %) and other (2 %). The proportion of main categories of uses was relatively unchanged over the period 1990-2012.

Final energy consumption

Final energy consumption in EU-28 in 2012 was 46 million TJ, slightly lower than in 2011 (Figure 9). Final energy consumption has increased slowly since 1994, reaching its highest value, 50 million TJ, in 2006. After that, the level remained relatively steady, until the first strong decrease, by 6 %, in 2009, as a result of the financial and economic crises.

The sharpest decrease was in the use of solid fuels, by 19 %, followed by gas (7 %), petroleum products (6 %) and electricity (5 %). There was a recovery in 2010, when final energy consumption increased by 5 %, though in 2011, there was a decrease of nearly 5 % while in 2012 it remained almost at the same level, so final energy consumption in 2012 was slightly below the 2009 level. In 2012, petroleum products and solid fuels accounted for the biggest decrease, by 3 %, while the biggest increase was registered by renewable energies (4 %) and gas (3 %).

The biggest share in the structure of final energy consumption in 2012 was for petroleum products (39 %), followed by gas (23 %), electricity (22 %), renewables (7 %), heat and solid fuels (4 % each).

The structure of final energy consumption in 2012 by sector shows that residential, road transport and industry accounted for the biggest shares, 26 % each (Figure 10). The service sector accounted for 13 %, other transport 6 % and the remaining other sectors 3 %.

The decrease in 2009 was sharpest in industry (15 %), which was partialy recovered in 2010 (8 %), but continued to decrease in 2011 (1 %) and in 2012 (2 %). On the other hand, consumption in both residential and services sectors decreased only slightly in 2009, increased by 6 to 8 % in 2010, then decreased substantially in 2011, in the residential sector by 11 % and in services by 7 %. In 2012 a small recovery was registered, 5 % for residential sector and 2 % for services, so in 2012 final energy consumption in residential sector and services was slightly below 2008 level.

Non-energy consumption

Final non-energy consumption includes fuels that are used as raw materials and are not consumed as fuel or transformed into another fuel (for example, chemical reactions or bitumen for road construction). Non-energy consumption in 2012 amounted to 4 million TJ (Figure 11). Petroleum products accounted for 85 %, gas 13 %, and 1 % of all non-energy consumption was of solid fuels.

Energy dependency

Gross inland consumption represents the quantity of energy necessary to satisfy the energy needs of a country or a region. The ratio between net imports and gross inland consumption indicates the ability of a country or region to meet all its energy needs. In other words, it shows the extent to which a country or a region is dependent on energy imports. This is illustrated in Figure 12 where the striped proportion of a column shows net imports with respect to gross inland energy consumption, which is represented by total column height.

In 2012 in EU-28, the highest need was for petroleum products, 24 million TJ, of which 93 % were imported. For natural gas, gross inland consumption in 2012 was 16 million TJ, 66 % of it covered by imports. The production of solid fuels in EU-28 has been in decline over the last two decades (Figure 1) as was gross inland consumption. At EU-28 level in 2012, 42 % of gross inland consumption of solid fuels was imported.

The trend since 1990 is towards increased import dependency. On the aggregated level, this is increasing for oil (petroleum products), coal (solid fuels), natural gas and also for renewable fuels (biofuels).

Energy intensity

Energy intensity is a measure of the energy efficiency of a nation’s economy and shows how much energy is needed to produce a unit of GDP. There are various reasons for observing improvements in energy intensity: the general shift from industry towards a service based economy in Europe, a shift within industry to less energy-intensive activities and production methods, the closure of inefficient units, or more energy-efficient appliances.

The lowest energy intensity in EU-28 in 2012 was observed in Ireland, followed by Denmark, the United Kingdom and Italy (Figure 13, Map 1). The highest values were in Bulgaria, Estonia, Romania and the Czech Republic. Nevertheless, the trend in energy intensity over the last two decades shows improvements in all EU-28 countries, most marked in countries with high energy intensity, namely Slovakia, Lithuania, Romania and Bulgaria.

Data sources and availability

Data on energy are submitted on the basis of internationally agreed methodology in joint annual energy questionnaires (Eurostat - OECD/IEA - UNECE). Data are available for all EU-28 countries and the methodology is harmonised for all reporting countries. Consequently, data comparability across countries is very high.


Energy statistics are in the spotlight due to the strategic importance of energy on the agenda of competitive and sustainable economic growth. In recent years, the European Union has faced several important issues that have pushed energy towards the top of national and European political agendas. Energy statistics have provided crucial information for policy makers: volatility in oil prices, interruptions of energy supply from non-member countries, blackouts aggravated by inefficient connections between national electricity networks, and the difficulties of market access for suppliers in relation to gas and electricity markets.

Consequently, a major policy package was adopted and has become binding legislation, known as the 20-20-20 targets. This ‘climate and energy package’ includes the following targets for 2020:

  • A reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions of at least 20 % below 1990 levels;
  • At least 20 % of EU gross final energy consumption to come from renewable energy sources;
  • At least 10 % of transport final energy consumption to come from renewable energy sources;
  • A 20 % reduction in primary energy use compared with projected levels, to be achieved by improving energy efficiency

These targets were further emphasised in the Europe 2020 strategy.

See also

Further Eurostat information


Main tables

Energy statistics - main indicators (t_nrg_indic)
Energy statistics - quantities (t_nrg_quant)


Energy statistics - main indicators (nrg_indic)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

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

Other information

External links


  1. The weather, especially during winter periods, also influences consumption of energy.
  2. Energy transformation includes energy lost during conversion of primary energy products into secondary energy products that are actually used by end users. For example this covers crude oil refining into motor gasoline or production of electricity from coal.