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Visualizing the EU’s Energy Dependency

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Visualizing the EU’s Energy Dependency

In response to Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. and EU have imposed heavy sanctions aimed at crippling the Russian economy. However, these bold actions also come with some potentially messy complications: Russia is not only one of the world’s largest exporters of energy products, but it is also Europe’s biggest supplier of these fuels.

As of October 2021, Russia supplied 25% of all oil imported by the EU, which is three times more than the second-largest trade partner. Naturally, the policies and circumstances that have led to this dependency have been under major scrutiny in recent weeks.

To help you learn more, this infographic visualizes energy data from Eurostat.

Energy Dependency, by Country

To start, let’s compare the energy dependence of each EU member, both in 2000 and 2020 (the latest year available). This metric shows the extent to which a country relies upon imports to meet its energy needs.

Note that Denmark’s value of -35.9% for the year 2000 is not a typo. Rather, it means that the country was a net exporter of energy.

Country20002020
🇦🇹 Austria65.5%58.3%
🇧🇪 Belgium78.2%78.0%
🇧🇬 Bulgaria46.4%37.9%
🇭🇷 Croatia48.5%53.6%
🇨🇾 Cyprus98.6%93.1%
🇨🇿 Czechia22.7%38.9%
🇩🇰 Denmark-35.9%44.9%
🇪🇪 Estonia34.0%10.6%
🇫🇮 Finland55.5%42.0%
🇫🇷 France51.2%44.5%
🇩🇪 Germany59.4%63.7%
🇬🇷 Greece69.1%81.4%
🇭🇺 Hungary55.0%56.6%
🇮🇪 Ireland85.4%71.3%
🇮🇹 Italy86.5%73.5%
🇱🇻 Latvia61.0%45.5%
🇱🇹 Lithuania57.8%74.9%
🇱🇺 Luxembourg99.6%92.5%
🇲🇹 Malta100.2%97.6%
🇳🇱 Netherlands38.3%68.1%
🇵🇱 Poland10.7%42.8%
🇵🇹 Portugal85.3%65.3%
🇷🇴 Romania21.9%28.2%
🇸🇰 Slovakia65.1%56.3%
🇸🇮 Slovenia51.9%45.8%
🇪🇸 Spain76.8%67.9%
🇸🇪 Sweden39.3%33.5%
Average56.3%57.5%

Over this 20-year timeframe, the EU-27 average country’s energy dependence has increased from 56.3% to 57.5%, meaning EU members became slightly more reliant on energy imports over those two decades.

Where Do EU’s Energy Imports Come From?

Looking further into energy imports reveals that Russia is the main supplier of crude oil, coal, and natural gas. Continue below for more details.

Crude Oil Imports

The EU imports more crude oil from Russia than the next three countries combined.

CountryPercentage of total
🇷🇺 Russia26.9%
🇮🇶 Iraq9.0%
🇳🇬 Nigeria7.9%
🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia7.7%
🇰🇿 Kazakhstan7.3%
🇳🇴 Norway7.0%
🇱🇾 Libya6.2%
🇺🇸 United States5.3%
🇬🇧 United Kingdom4.9%
🇦🇿 Azerbaijan4.5%
🇩🇿 Algeria2.4%
Others10.9%

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Russia was the world’s third largest producer of oil in 2020. The country has several state-owned oil companies including Rosneft and Gazprom.

Coal Imports

Coal-fired power plants are still being used across the EU, though most member states expect to completely phase them out by 2030.

CountryPercentage of total
🇷🇺 Russia46.7%
🇺🇸 United States17.7%
🇦🇺 Australia13.7%
🇨🇴 Colombia8.2%
🇿🇦 South Africa2.8%
Others10.9%

Russia has the second largest coal reserves in the world. In 2020, it mined 328 million metric tons, making it the sixth largest producer globally.

Natural Gas Imports

Natural gas is commonly used to heat buildings and water. A majority of the EU’s supply comes from Russia via the Nord Stream series of pipelines.

CountryPercentage of total
🇷🇺 Russia41.1%
🇳🇴 Norway16.2%
🇩🇿 Algeria7.6%
🇶🇦 Qatar5.2%
Others29.9%

Nord Stream 1 is the longest sub-sea pipeline in the world and was completed in 2011. It starts from the Russian city of Vyborg and connects to the EU through Germany.

Nord Stream 2 is a recently constructed expansion which was expected to double the project’s capacity. Germany has since halted the approval process for this pipeline in response to Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

What Happens Now?

In retaliation against Western sanctions, Russia has announced an impending ban on exports of certain goods and raw materials.

European gas prices skyrocketed in response, as many fear that Russia could cut off natural gas supplies. This, of course, would have very negative effects on both consumers and businesses.

In early March 2022, both the European Commission and the International Energy Agency (IEA) introduced proposals on how Europe could reduce its energy dependency.

We must become independent from Russian oil, coal and gas. We simply cannot rely on a supplier who explicitly threatens us.
– Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

Cutting off one’s biggest supplier is likely to cause issues, especially when dealing with something as critical as energy. Few countries have the capacity (or willingness) to immediately replace Russian imports.

The proposals also discussed options for boosting Europe’s domestic output, though the commission’s report notably excluded nuclear power. For various reasons, nuclear remains a polarizing topic in Europe, with countries taking either a pro or anti stance.

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Energy Shift

Visualizing the Rise of the U.S. as Top Crude Oil Producer

Over the last decade, the U.S. has surpassed Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s top producer of crude oil.

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Line chart showing how the U.S. has surpassed Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world's top producer of crude oil.

Visualizing the Rise of the U.S. as Top Crude Oil Producer

Over the last decade, the United States has established itself as the world’s top producer of crude oil, surpassing Saudi Arabia and Russia.

This infographic illustrates the rise of the U.S. as the biggest oil producer, based on data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

U.S. Takes Lead in 2018

Over the last three decades, the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Russia have alternated as the top crude producers, but always by small margins.

During the 1990s, Saudi Arabia dominated crude production, taking advantage of its extensive oil reserves. The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 42% of the country’s GDP, 87% of its budget revenues, and 90% of export earnings.

However, during the 2000s, Russia surpassed Saudi Arabia in production during some years, following strategic investments in expanding its oil infrastructure. The majority of Russia’s oil goes to OECD Europe (60%), with around 20% going to China.

Crude Oil Production United StatesSaudi ArabiaRussia
199211.93%13.97%12.74%
199311.50%13.68%11.35%
199410.96%13.32%10.50%
199510.60%13.17%9.96%
199610.21%12.87%9.49%
19979.84%12.73%9.29%
19989.39%12.58%9.05%
19999.06%11.99%9.33%
20008.67%12.33%9.64%
20018.65%11.89%10.45%
20028.63%11.49%11.53%
20038.05%12.92%12.10%
20047.46%12.74%12.67%
20057.00%13.21%12.82%
20066.85%13.00%12.90%
20076.84%12.38%13.29%
20086.71%12.44%12.56%
20097.32%11.28%12.98%
20107.37%11.31%13.03%
20117.55%12.81%13.02%
20128.50%13.04%12.94%
20139.76%12.86%13.10%
201411.18%12.60%12.86%
201511.67%12.77%12.66%
201610.92%13.12%13.02%
201711.53%12.68%13.05%
201813.21%12.77%12.96%
201914.90%12.15%13.20%
202014.87%12.37%12.97%
202114.59%12.06%13.10%
202214.73%13.17%12.76%

Over the 2010s, the U.S. witnessed an increase in domestic production, much of it attributable to hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in the shale formations ranging from Texas to North Dakota. It became the world’s largest oil producer in 2018, outproducing Russia and Saudi Arabia.

The U.S. accounted for 14.7% of crude oil production worldwide in 2022, compared to 13.1% for Saudi Arabia and 12.7% for Russia.

Despite leading petroleum production, the U.S. still trails seven countries in remaining proven reserves underground, with 55,251 million barrels.

Venezuela has the biggest reserves with 303,221 million barrels. Saudi Arabia, with 267,192 million barrels, occupies the second spot, while Russia is seventh with 80,000 million barrels.

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Energy Shift

Visualizing All the Nuclear Waste in the World

Despite concerns about nuclear waste, high-level radioactive waste constitutes less than 0.25% of all radioactive waste ever generated.

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Graphic cubes illustrating the global volume of nuclear waste and its disposal methods.

Visualizing All the Nuclear Waste in the World

Originally posted on the Decarbonization Channel. Subscribe to the free mailing list to be the first to receive decarbonization-related visualizations, with a focus on the U.S. power sector.

Nuclear power is among the safest and cleanest sources of electricity, making it a critical part of the clean energy transition.

However, nuclear waste, an inevitable byproduct, is often misunderstood.

In collaboration with the National Public Utilities Council, this graphic shows the volume of all existing nuclear waste, categorized by its level of hazardousness and disposal requirements, based on data from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Storage and Disposal

Nuclear provides about 10% of global electricity generation.

Nuclear waste, produced as a result of this, can be divided into four different types:

  • Very low-level waste: Waste suitable for near-surface landfills, requiring lower containment and isolation.
  • Low-level waste: Waste needing robust containment for up to a few hundred years, suitable for disposal in engineered near-surface facilities.
  • Intermediate-level waste: Waste that requires a greater degree of containment and isolation than that provided by near-surface disposal.
  • High-level waste: Waste is disposed of in deep, stable geological formations, typically several hundred meters below the surface.

Despite safety concerns, high-level radioactive waste constitutes less than 0.25% of total radioactive waste reported to the IAEA.

Waste ClassDisposed (cubic meters)Stored (cubic meters)Total (cubic meters)
Very low-level waste758,802313,8821,072,684
Low-level waste1,825,558204,8582,030,416
Intermediate level waste671,097201,893872,990
High-level waste3,9605,3239,283

Stored and disposed radioactive waste reported to the IAEA under the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management. Data is from the last reporting year which varies by reporting country, 2019-2023.

The amount of waste produced by the nuclear power industry is small compared to other industrial activities.

While flammable liquids comprise 82% of the hazardous materials shipped annually in the U.S., radioactive waste accounts for only 0.01%.

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