Final energy consumption intensity (ENER 021) - Assessment published Sep 2010
Energy (Primary topic)
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
- ENER 021
Key policy question: Has there been a decoupling between economic growth and final energy consumption in Europe?
Economic growth continues to entail less final energy consumption within the EU-27 economy. The final energy consumption intensity decreased by 25.1 % compared to 1990. However, this improvement has not been sufficient to prevent total final energy consumption from rising. Decoupling of growth from final energy consumption was most successful in the services and agriculture sector (-29.5 %) and in the industry (-29.4 %). In the transport sector the final energy consumption intensity decreased by 7.1 % compared to 1990. In the households sector, the final energy consumption per capita increased by 2.6 % since 1990 due to larger and more numerous dwellings, and greater ownership of electrical appliances.
Index of final energy intensity and energy intensity by sector, EU-27
Note: Index of final energy intensity and energy intensity by sector, EU-27
Eurostat. Energy statistics: Supply, transformation, consumption - all products - annual data. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/energy/data/database
Eurostat. Annual national account. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/national_accounts/data/database
Ameco. GDP growth rates and Gross Value Added rates used for the estimation of missing GDP en GVA data from Eurostat: European Commission Ameco database.
- Over the period 1990 to 2007, the total gross domestic product (GDP) of the EU-27 grew at an annual average rate of 2.2 % while the final energy consumption grew only by 0.5 % annually. Consequently over the period, the final energy consumption intensity decreased at an average annual rate of 1.7 %. In 2007 we even saw a decrease of 4.3 % compared to 2006. Improvements in final energy intensity are influenced both by structural changes of the economy such as a shift from industry towards services and, within industry, to less energy-intensive processes. In the household sector, improvements in the efficiency of electrical appliances and measures targeting the buildings’ envelope helped to slow down the growth in final energy consumption (for more information on final energy consumption trends see ENER 16 and for energy efficiency in the household sector see ENER02).
- From 1990 till 2007, the energy-intensity of final energy consumption of the EU-27 decreased by 25.1 % (see Figure 1). During the same period, the emissions of air pollutants decreased significantly: SOx (-72 %), CO (-57 %), NMVOCs (-47 %) and NOx (-36 %) (EEA, 2009a). During the period 1990-2008, the EU-27 reduced domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 10.7% (EEA, 2009b)
- In the non EU EEA member countries, the final energy consumption intensity decreased by 5.7 % over the period 1990 to 2007, at an annual average rate of 0.34 %. At the same time, the GDP grew at an average annual rate of 2.9% while final energy consumption increased by an average annual rate of 2.5 %. Therefore, in these countries, there is a slower pace of decoupling final energy consumption from economic growth, particularly due to developments in Turkey.
Specific policy question: Is the final energy consumption intensity decreasing in the households sector in Europe?
- Between 1990 and 2007, the final energy
consumption intensity in the households sector increased by 2.6 %, at an
average annual rate of 0.2 %. The underlying factors include an average
growth of 0.3 % and final household energy consumption growing by an
average annual rate of 0.5 %. Until 2006, the final energy consumption in the households sector increased at an average
annual rate of 0.9 %, but in 2007 the trend reversed, showing a steep
decrease of the total final energy consumption of 6.6 % compared to 2006 (see ENER16). The
energy intensity of the household sector decreased by 7% between 2006 and
2007, mirroring the decrease in final energy consumption. The final energy
consumption intensity is also closely linked with climatic conditions, as
the major part of the energy is used for space heating (for details on
energy efficiency improvements in the household sector see also ENER 02);
Please note that figures presented in this indicator are not directly comparable with the figures presented in the ENER 02. Most of the trends presented in ENER 02 refer to consumption per dwelling or m2 to capture the effect of measures on the building envelope.
Specific policy question: Is the final energy consumption intensity decreasing in the industrial sector?
- Between 1990 and 2007, the energy intensity in the industrial sector (the construction sector not included in this indicator) decreased by 29.4%, at an annual average rate of 2.0 %. Over the same period of time, the gross value added within the industrial sector increased by 26.4 %, at an annual average rate of 1.4 %. Most of the positive improvements took place in early 1990s and again in 2005 and 2006. In 2007 however, the positive trend slowed down significantly. The absolute industrial final energy consumption declined over 1990-2007 by 10.8 % at an annual average rate of 0.7 % (see also ENER 16). The improvement in energy intensity is therefore mainly due to a decoupling of energy consumption from the gross value added, which implies an achievement in energy efficiency in the industry (see also the ODEX in ENER 02).
Specific policy question: Is the final energy consumption intensity decreasing in the services and agriculture sectors?
- In the EU-27, energy intensity of the service and agricultural sectors declined by 29.5%, at an average annual rate of 2.0 %. The decrease mainly took place between 1996 and 2000. In 2007 in particular, there was a sharp decrease of the energy intensity in this sector by 6.2 % compared to 2006. The gross value added for the services and agriculture sector increased by 55.0% in the period 1990-2007, at an average annual rate of 2.6 %. The energy consumption increased by 9.4 % over the same period of time, at an average annual rate of 0.5 %. The improvement in energy intensity is therefore due both to a decoupling of energy consumption from the gross value added, which implies some degree of energy efficiency in the services and agriculture as well as a faster growth of the gross value added. The underlying factors explaining the energy efficiency improvement include: increased use of information and communication technology in offices, a decrease of the average office or floor space per unit of added value and an increase in insulation. Fluctuations in energy intensity reflect the cyclical nature of the economy, and also year-on-year fluctuations in climatic conditions (e.g. the out side temperature) which can contribute significantly to energy intensity (increase of energy use) trends as they affect building requirements for space heating (see also ENER 16).
Specific policy question: Is the final energy consumption intensity decreasing in the transport sector?
- Between 1990 and 2007, some progress was made in decoupling the energy consumption in transport from economic growth, albeit much less noticeable than what can be observed in industry or service sectors. During this period of time, the final energy consumption intensity decreased by 7.1%, at an average annual rate of 0.4 %. The underlying factors for the observed trend include rapid growth in road transport, which led to a rapid increase in energy consumption despite some improvements in the fuel efficiency of cars. For example, the average fuel efficiency of a new car in the EU has increased by 12% between 1995 and 2006 (TERM, 2006). Freight transport is growing faster than the economy hence CO2emissions from freight transport are growing quickly. Passenger transport continues to grow, particularly in aviation and cars. Increased car usage and a reduced number of passengers per car offset improvements in fuel efficiency. Greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector continue to increase steadily (see ENER 01). Although improvements have been made in the energy efficiency of various transport modes and non-fossil fuels have been introduced, increased transport demand is outweighing these benefits (EEA, 2008).
National accounts (Eurostat)
provided by Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat)
Energy statistics (Eurostat)
provided by Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat)
GDP growth rate
provided by The World Bank
More information about this indicator
See this indicator specification for more details.
Contacts and ownership
EEA Contact InfoCinzia Pastorello
EEA Management Plan2010 2.9.1 (note: EEA internal system)
Frequency of updates
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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