EU’s industries dependent on electricity and natural gas



In 2020, the industry sector accounted for 26 % of final energy consumption, which makes it the third largest energy end-user in the EU, after transport and households. Energy use is essential in the industry sector primarily for industrial processes but also for non-process-related purposes, such as space heating, cooling or lighting.

Data for 2020 show that electricity and natural gas accounted for nearly two-thirds of final energy consumption in the EU’s industry sector (33 % and 32 %, respectively).

Renewables and biofuels, along with oil and petroleum products accounted for 10 % each, followed by solid fossil fuels and derived heat, both with a 6 % share in the mix. Non-renewable waste accounted for 2 % (figures might not add up due to rounding).

Breakdown by energy product also shows the sector’s dependence on fossil fuels. Natural gas, oil and petroleum products, solid fossil fuels and non-renewable waste combined directly accounted for over half (almost 51 %) of final energy consumption in the industry in 2020. In 2022, REPowerEU attempts to address this strong reliance on fossil fuels in the EU industry, by introducing measures calling for a transformation of industrial processes to replace gas, oil and coal with renewable electricity and fossil-free hydrogen.

Within the industrial sector, the biggest energy consumers in the EU in 2020 were the ‘chemical and petrochemical industry’ (2 121 Petajoules (PJ) or 22 % of the total final energy consumption in industry in 2020), the ‘non-metallic minerals industry’ (1 372 PJ or 14 %) and the ‘paper, pulp and printing industry’ (1 326 PJ or 14 %).

The only other sector consuming more than 10% of the total was the ‘food, beverages and tobacco industry’ (1 147 PJ or 12 %).

The chemical and petrochemical industry was strongly dependent on natural gas. The manufacture of chemicals and chemical products used 630 PJ (34 % of the total final energy consumption for this sector) of natural gas in 2020, and the manufacture of basic pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations consumed 52 PJ (41 % of the total final energy consumption for this sector). Electricity was the second most important energy product for both sectors in 2020.

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Methodological notes:

  • Complete detailed data on energy consumption in industry are available for 2020 for all but three EU Member States. In line with the derogations granted to them, Spain did not report detailed data on energy consumption in industry for 2020, and Greece and Malta reported this data only partially.
  • Solid fossil fuels refer to primary coal products, derived coal products, manufactured gases, peat and peat products and oil shale and oil sands.