Last update: 8 August 2023
High and volatile European energy prices are being driven by extraordinarily tight supply-demand balances in energy markets, particularly for natural gas. The primary solution is to reduce demand and the European Union agreed a target to reduce gas demand by 15% compared to the previous five year average between August 2022 and March 2023. This target has subsequently been extended to March 2024.
This dataset tracks monthly natural gas demand by EU country, with a breakdown of the power, industry and household sectors wherever possible. Because there isn’t a timely and comprehensive data source covering all the EU, this dataset is built by compiling data from a range of sources. A technical annex explains this methodology.
In 2022, we estimate that EU natural gas demand (which does not include storage filling) was 12% lower than the average from the period 2019 to 2021. Demand in October 2022 was 27%, in November 24%, and December 13% lower. While in summer months, most of the reduction was driven by industry – in October and November, there were significant reductions to household demand. This was partly driven by warmer than average weather. The start of December was notably cold and household demand reductions were not as large.
During the first quarter of 2023, EU gas demand was 18% below average. Most notably, the demand for gas in the power sector was 13% below average. This is a positive sign for Europe’s energy balances, as previously little gas was saved in the power sector due to lower output than usual from other fuels. In the second quarter of 2023, power demand continued to remain subdued (down 17%) which allowed total EU demand to remain 19% below average.
Table 1 shows results. We report the total for 2022, the first quarter of 2023, and the most recent month gas demand as a percentage difference from the 2019-21 average. Figure 1 shows the monthly evolution of natural gas demand for a selection of countries, and the EU as a whole.
Figure 2 visualises monthly natural gas demand by country (the top bar allows scrolling through different countries). The stacked bar charts compare demand in 2022 and 2023 with the 2019-21 average.
For a selection of countries, we can separate demand for the power, industrial, and household sectors. Considering these countries, figure 3 plots the average ratio of the respective sectoral demand to the 2019-21 average. This offers some intuition as to how different sectors have driven EU gas consumption over the past year. Power sector consumption is volatile and driven by the availability of alternative power generation, while industrial demand has been consistently depressed. Meanwhile, household demand also shows some volatility – likely driven by weather conditions.
Finally, figure 4 compares changes to gas demand across all countries, showing which sectors have driven this change. The figure shows percentage and absolute contributions to demand changes by sector.
Demand data is compiled from a variety of sources. Use of the ENTSOG transparency platform is prioritised where available. This is complemented in certain cases by national transmission system or market operators (Enagas, GRTGaz, THE) and for power we use the ENTSO-E transparency platform to obtain the electricity produced in gas fired power plants (see below). In cases where no alternative data are available, we use Eurostat monthly gas demand data (NRG_CB_GASM). In all cases, 2022 values are compared to the average from 2019 to 2021.
Below is a description of the methodology for reporting which table A1 summarises.
For some countries (Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia) the ENTSO-G platform consistently reports total gas demand and this is our preferred source. Spanish data is taken from Enagas. French data is from GRTGaz and ENTSO-G (Terega). German data combines THE and BNetzA. Austrian data is from AGGM (compiled by Johannes Schmidt and Peter Reschenhofer). Dutch data is complemented with CBS. Danish distribution data is from EnergiData. For the remaining countries (Czechia, Finland, Greece, Lithuania, Sweden and Slovakia) Eurostat is used, with the result of a one-to-two-month lag.
For most countries, an implied gas demand for power generation is calculated using ENTSO-E data on actual generation by technology type. For some countries, this data is taken from Ember. All gas-fired plants are assumed to be running at an efficiency of 50%. Therefore, an electricity output of 1MWh implies 2MWh gas demand. In certain cases, country-specific sources are used (GRTGaz for France, Gas Networks IE for Ireland, and CBS for the Netherlands).
Industry and Household
Where specific household and industry data are available, we use them and report separately. In many cases, we can identify ‘Final Consumers’ directly connected to the transmission grid, which should entail, both, larger industry and power sector gas consumption. Here, we subtract our estimate for power consumption to isolate industrial consumption. In many cases we are not able to separate industry and households and report the two together.