Europe´s energy production is declining. Taking the year 1990 as a baseline, total energy production was down by more than 13 % in 2009. Although the years 1995 and 2000 show a slightly higher output compared to the baseline scanario, the overall trend is pretty obvious. In absolute figures, the loss amounts to some 125.6 Mtoe. The source data for the following figures have been taken from Eurostat.
However, this observation based on the entirety of all primary energy sources deserves a closer inspection. Let us therefore have a look at the various sectors of energy production. These are as follows: solid fuels, oil, gas, nuclear, renewables and others. Examining these sectors in more detail reveals some important facts.
The first striking observation is that the production of solid fuels went down by more then 50 % during the period in question (1990-2009). Simultaneously, the production from renewables more than doubled. Nevertheless, the increase of the the latter (76 Mtoe) is by far insufficient in order to compensate for the decline in solid fuel production (201 Mtoe). Compared to those two factors the variation of the other components such as gas, nuclear etc. has been of minor importance.
At the same time, Europe´s energy hunger is increasing as can be seen from the figure below. Yet, this is not the only remarkable piece of evidence. Whereas production output is ranging slightly over 800 Mtoe in 2009, the consumption figures are about twice as high. This creates a significant import dependency which gets even more pronounced as the data clearly indicate that indigenous production is decreasing while simultaneously consumption is growing (with the exception of 2009 due to obvious economic problems).
It is worthwhile to combine the data for production and consumption in one figure. This clarifies the dimension of the gap between these two basic parameters. This gap needs to be filled with imports from third countries. The slump in consumption in 2008/2009 is caused by the financial crisis which severely affected the European economy. Once the economic activity recovers, an increase to pre-crisis levels may be anticipated.
As a matter of fact, Europe is highly dependent on energy imports. This is not the place to discuss the strategic, political and economic consequences of that clearcut observation. Moreover, it remains to be seen to what extent this apparent import dependency may be compensated by the increasing use of renewable energies. At first glance, it appears that the huge gap may never be filled completely by renewables. So the question is to what extent they may contribute to diminishing Europe´s import dependency on primary energy sources.