EU energy import bill amounted to ?355 billion in 2010

The European Union’s energy import bill last year totalled a massive €355.15 billion – that’s slightly more than the annual wealth of Poland in 2010 (GDP was around €341 billion). Take that amount and share it between the EU’s 503 million citizens and it comes to €706.8 a year.

Divide it again per working day and you get €2.70 – in other words every single working day of the year EU citizens are paying €2.70 on fossil fuel imports – the equivalent to an expensive cup of coffee every day.

This expense comes because Europe is dependent on fuels imported from abroad to meet our energy needs. In fact, from Middle Eastern oil to Russian gas, the EU imports 84% of its petroleum products, and 41% of its solid fuel – mainly coal, according to the latest statistics released by Eurostat.

Fuels used by traditional fossil fuel power plants are costly. The fuel used by wind power is totally free. Just as you don’t pay for the wind that blows the washing dry on the line, or the wind that powers the sailing boat in the Mediterranean, you don’t pay for the fuel that turns the blades on wind turbines and creates electricity.

At least some of the money that we spend on importing polluting, expensive and unreliable fossil fuels could be better spent on investing in European energy security – on constructing the wind farm plants and other renewable energy sources that are powered by free, clean fuel made in Europe.

Last year – as Europe forked out €355.15 billion on the coal, oil or gas used in energy production – bear in mind that in 2010 wind power actually brought down the amount that the EU pays for electricity by €6.54 billion in avoided fuel costs. That breaks down into €2 billion in avoided coal costs, €0.61 billion in avoided oil costs, €3.25 billion in avoided gas costs and €0.69 billion in avoided biomass and waste costs, according to the European Wind Energy Association’s latest statistics.

By 2020 the increasing capacity of wind farm is predicted to shave €23.9 billion off the amount Europe pays for electricity, rising to €51 billion by 2030. That gives you at least a two month-long break from paying for your daily take-out coffee thanks to a fuel that’s not only free, but will also never run out.

Zoë Casey,