Final energy consumption intensity (ENER 021) - Assessment published Aug 2011
Economic growth continues to entail less final energy consumption within the EU-27 economy. Over the period 1990-2008, the EU final energy intensity has decreased by around 1.6%/year, and mainly during the years 1996-2000 (-3.1%/year). Since 1995, decoupling of growth from final energy consumption was most successful in the agriculture and services sector where the energy intensity has decreased by respectively 25.7% and 24.9%. In the tertiary and transport sectors the final energy consumption intensities have decreased by 15 % and 8% compared to 1995. In the households sector, the final energy consumption per capita increased by 1.9 % since 1995 due to larger and more numerous dwellings, and greater ownership of electrical appliances.
Has there been a decoupling between economic growth and final energy consumption in Europe?
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. Final energy intensity or final energy consumption intensity refers to the ratio between the final energy consumption and the GDP
Eurostat (historical data) http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/ . GDP is based on 2010 Spring Forecasts, DG ECFIN, European Commission and is expressed in Euro at 2000 market prices
Variation of final energy intensity in EU and EEA countries, 1990-2008
Note: The figure shows the variation of final energy intensity (the ratio between the final energy consumption and the GDP) in EU and EEA countries
Final energy consumption from Eurostat, GDP based on 2010 Spring Forecasts, DG ECFIN, European Commission
Final energy intensity
- Over the period 1990 to 2008, the total gross domestic product (GDP) of the EU-27 grew at an annual average rate of 2.1 % while the final energy consumption only grew by 0.5 % annually. Consequently over the period, the final energy intensity decreased at an average annual rate of 1.6 %. In 2007, the decrease even reached 4.5 % compared to 2006.In 2008, the intensity remained at the same level as in 2007.
- Trends are very different among EU countries: final energy intensity decreased very rapidly in Estonia (by around 8%/year) and also to a lesser extent in Slovakia, Lithuania and Bulgaria (around 5%/year); on the contrary it increased in Portugal and Spain.
- Improvements in final energy intensity are influenced both by structural changes in the economy, such as a shift from industry towards services and, within industry, to less energy-intensive processes, and by energy efficiency improvements. 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 (see ENER016 and for energy efficiency in the household sector see ENER022).
- In the non EU EEA member countries, the final energy consumption intensity decreased by 7.2 % over the period 1990 to 2008, at an annual average rate of 0.4 %. At the same time, the GDP grew at an average annual rate of 2.8% while final energy consumption increased by an average annual rate of 2.3 %. Therefore, in these countries, there is a slower pace of decoupling between final energy consumption and economic growth, mainly due to developments in Turkey.
- From 1990 to 2008, the final energy consumption of the EU-27 has increased by 9.5 %. During the same period, CO2 emissions from fuel combustion have decreased by 7.1% (-9.4% for the energy industry, -25.1% in manufacturing industries and construction, -12.1% in residential, tertiary and agriculture but + 23.8% in transport. The CO2 emissions of industrial process have also decreased by 11.6% since 1990 (EEA, 2009b). The emissions of other air pollutants decreased more significantly: SOx (-78 %), CO (-58 %), NMVOCs (-51 %) and NOx (-39 %) (EEA, 2009a).
Final energy intensity or final energy consumption intensity refers to the ratio between the final energy consumption and the GDP.
Is the final energy consumption intensity decreasing in the households sector in Europe?
- Between 1990 and 2008, the final energy intensity in the households sector, measured by the ratio “energy consumption divided by population” has increased by 6.6 %, at an average annual rate of 0.36 %. The annual population growth has been 0.3 % and the final household energy consumption has grown by an average annual rate of 0.7 %. 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 5.8 % compared to 2006 (see ENER016).The energy intensity of the household sector decreased by 6.7% between 2006 and 2007, mirroring the decrease in final energy consumption. In 2008, the trends was reversed again with a consumption per capita which increased by 3.8%. 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 022)
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 adjusted from climate to make more realistic comparison between countries to avoid climatic variations and influence (in particular to compare Nordic and Southern countries).
Is the final energy consumption intensity decreasing in the industrial sector?
- Between 1995 and 2007, the energy intensity in the industrial sector (excluded construction) decreased by 24.9%, at an annual average rate of 2.2 %. Over the same period of time, the gross value added within the industrial sector increased by 27.5%, at an annual average rate of 1.9 %. The decrease of the industrial energy intensity is rather continuous all over the period. The absolute industrial final energy consumption declined over 1990-2008 by 13 % at an annual average rate of 0.8 % (see also ENER 016). 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 ENER022).
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 15% and 25.7% from 1995 to 2008, at an average annual rate of 1.2 % and 2.3%. The decrease mainly took place between 1996 and 2000 (-5.1%/year for the service, -3%/year for agriculture). In 2007 in particular, there was a sharp decrease of the energy intensity in this sector by 7.7 % for service and -5.4% for agriculture compared to 2006. From 1995 to 2008, the gross value added for the services and agriculture sector increased by 40.4% and 12.2% respectively, at an average annual rate of 2.6 % and 0.9%. The energy consumption of services increased by 21.5 % (1.5%/year) since 1995; in the same time the energy consumption of agriculture (and fisheries) tends to decrease by 15.6% (1.3%/year). 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. Over the period 1997-2007, the electricity consumption per employee in EU-27 increased by 10%, at an annual growth rate of 1%, due to increased use of air conditioning in southern countries and of IT and other electrical equipment (see ENER 024).
Is the final energy consumption intensity decreasing in the transport sector?
- Between 1990 and 2008, 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 7.2%, 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 17%  between 1995 and 2007. 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 ENER023)
 The average efficiency of new cars is calculated according to data provided by cars manufacturers ACEA / JAMA / KAMA
Indicator specification and metadata
Final energy consumption covers energy supplied to the final consumer for all energy uses. It is calculated as the sum of final energy consumption of all sectors. These are disaggregated to cover industry, transport, households, and services and agriculture.
Total final energy intensity is defined as total final energy consumption (consumption of transformed energy such as electricity, publicly supplied heat, refined oil products, coke, etc, and the direct use of primary fuels such as gas or renewables, e.g. solar heat or biomass) divided by gross domestic product (GDP) at constant 2000 prices. The GDP figures are taken at constant prices to avoid the impact of inflation, base year 2000.
- Household energy intensity is defined as household final energy consumption divided by population.
- Transport energy intensity is defined as transport final energy consumption divided by GDP at constant 2000 prices.
- Industry energy intensity is defined as industry final energy consumption divided by industry Gross Value Added at constant 2000 prices. This excludes final energy consumption and gross value added from construction.
- Services energy intensity is defined as services final energy consumption divided by services Gross Value Added at constant 2000 prices. Value added of services is the sum of 3 value added :
- G_H_I : Wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles, motorcycles and personal and household goods; hotels and restaurants; transport, storage and communication,
- J_K - Financial intermediation; real estate, renting and business activities and
- L_TO_P - Public administration and defence, compulsory social security; education; health and social work; other community, social and personal service activities; private households with employed persons
UnitsFinal energy consumption is measured in 1000 tonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe) and GDP in million Euro at 2000 market prices. Energy intensity is measured in tonnes of oil equivalent per million Euro (GDP or GVA), except in the case of household energy intensity which is measured in tonnes of oil equivalent per 1000 people
Policy context and targets
In Europe there are two prevailing objectives: to continue generating economic growth (the Lisbon Agenda) while, at the same time protecting the environment and ensuing security of energy supply. Achieving these goals simultaneously requires decoupling the economic growth from energy-consumption. This indicator shows the extent to which this is happening (or not) for the four main sectors (for definitions for each sector please see the “Methodology” section): households, services and agriculture, industry and transport. Relative decoupling occurs when energy consumption grows, but more slowly than the underlying driver. Absolute decoupling occurs when energy consumption is stable or falls while the driver grows.
A shift towards absolute decoupling would indicate that pressures on the environment from energy production and consumption are decreasing (because of avoided energy supply) but the magnitude of the impact depends both on the total amount of avoided energy consumption as well as the implications for the energy mix (in other words which fuels have been used less because of the reduction in final energy consumption).
Proposal for a directive on energy efficiency (COM(2011) 370 final). On 22 June 2011, the European Commission proposed a new set of measures in order to meet the EU’s 2020 energy efficiency target.
A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050 (COM(2011) 112 final). Presents a roadmap for action in line with a 80-95% greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2050.
Energy Efficiency Plan 2011 (COM(2011) 109 final). Proposes additional measures to achieve the 20 % primary energy saving target by 2020.
Council adopted on 6 April 2009 the climate-energy legislative package containing measures to fight climate change and promote renewable energy. This package is designed to achieve the EU's overall environmental target of a 20 % reduction in greenhouse gases and a 20 % share of renewable energy in the EU's total energy consumption by 2020.The climate action and renewable energy (CARE) package includes the following main policy documents:
- Directive 2009/29/ECof the European parliament and of the Council amending directive 2003/87/EC so as to improve and extend the greenhouse gas emission allowance trading scheme of the community.
- Directive 2009/31/EC of the European parliament and of the Council on the geological storage of carbon dioxide.
- Directive 2009/28/EC of the European parliament and of the Council on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources.
- Community guidelines on state aid for environmental protection (2008/c 82/01).
- Directive 2008/101/EC of the European parliament and of the Council amending directive 2003/87/EC so as to include aviation activities in the scheme for greenhouse gas Emission allowance trading within the community
- Regulation (EC) no 443/2009 of the European parliament and of the Council setting emission performance standards for new passenger cars as part of the community’s integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles
Energy Services Directive; Directive 2006/32/EC. Sets out clear mandatory targets for annual energy intensity improvements at Member States’ level and for the share of energy efficient public procurement for the period 2006-2012. For the same period, strong incentives were given by the Directive for Member States to ensure that suppliers of energy offer a certain level of energy services.
Second Strategic Energy Review; COM(2008) 781 final. Strategic review on short, medium and long term targets on EU energy security.
Eco-Design Directive; COM(2008) 778 final/2. Directive on intensification of existing regulation on energy-efficiency of products.
Energy Performance Buildings Directive; Directive 2002/91/EC. The Member States must apply minimum requirements as regards the energy performance of new and existing buildings, ensure the certification of their energy performance and require the regular inspection of boilers and air conditioning systems in buildings.
Energy Performance Buildings Directive (recast); Directive 2010/31/EU. Strengthens the energy performance requirements of the 2002 Directive.
No targets have been specified
Related policy documents
Regulation (ec) no 443/2009 of the European parliament and of the Council setting emission performance standards for new passenger cars as part of the community's integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles.
Energy Performance Buildings Directive
Energy Services Directive on energy end-use efficiency and energy services and repealing Council Directive 93/76/EEC
Directive 2008/101/ec of the European parliament and of the Council amending directive 2003/87/ec so as to include aviation activities in the scheme for greenhouse gas Emission allowance trading within the community
Community guidelines on state aid for environmental protection (2008/c 82/01)
Directive 2009/28/ec of the European parliament and of the Council on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources
Directive 2009/29/ec of the European parliament and of the Council amending directive 2003/87/ec so as to improve and extend the greenhouse gas emission allowance trading scheme of the community.
Directive 2009/31/ec of the European parliament and of the Council on the geological storage of carbon dioxide.
COM (2011) 112 - A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050
With its "Roadmap for moving to a competitive low-carbon economy in 2050" the European Commission is looking beyond these 2020 objectives and setting out a plan to meet the long-term target of reducing domestic emissions by 80 to 95% by mid-century as agreed by European Heads of State and governments. It shows how the sectors responsible for Europe's emissions - power generation, industry, transport, buildings and construction, as well as agriculture - can make the transition to a low-carbon economy over the coming decades.
Eco-Design Directive; COM(2008) 778
COM(2008) 781 final - Second Strategic Energy Review
COM(2011) 109 final: Energy Efficiency Plan 2011
Energy Efficiency Plan 2011
COM(2011) 370 final Proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on energy efficiency and repealing Directives
The Directive establises a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy-using products and amends Council Directive 92/42/EEC and Directives 96/57/EC and 2000/55/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council
DIRECTIVE 2010/31/EU - Energy performance of buildings directive
DIRECTIVE 2010/31/EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 19 May 2010 on the energy performance of buildings(recast)
Methodology for indicator calculation
The Agency had 32 member countries at the time of writing of this fact sheet. These are the 27 European Union Member States and Turkey, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. No 2007-2009 data available for Iceland (Iceland do not appear on the graphs)
Methodology and frequency of data collection:
Data collected annually. Eurostat definitions and concepts for energy statistics http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_SDDS/en/nrg_quant_esms.htm
Methodology of data manipulation:
The coding (used in the Eurostat New Cronos database) and specific components of the indicators are:
- Total final energy intensity: final energy consumption 101700 divided by the gross domestic product, conducted from the Eurostat datasheets (b1gm Gross domestic product at 2000 market prices mio_eur_clv2000 )
- Household energy intensity: Final energy consumption households 102010 divided by PJAN Population by sex and age on 1. January of each year.
- Transport energy intensity: Final energy consumption transport 101900 divided by B1GM GDP and main components - Constant 2000 prices.
- Industry energy intensity: Final energy consumption industry 101800 divided by the gross value added for industry conducted from the Eurostat datasheets (NACE C_D_E Total industry GVA)
- Services energy intensity : Final energy consumption Services and Others 102035, 102040 divided by the gross value added of services (Wholesale and retail trade, Financial intermediation; Public administration and defence : NACE G to P)
- Agriculture energy intensity : Final energy consumption Agriculture, fisheries 102030, 102020 divided by the gross value added of agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing –NACE A_B
The gross value added (GVA) for Industry, Agriculture and Tertiary and GDP are not available in Eurostat for all the countries before 1995. GDP before 1995 has been calculated with GDP growth rate published by country by the World Bank (Reference World Development Indicators 2011). GDP for EU-27 is the sum of countries.
Average annual rate of growth calculated using: [(last year / base year) ^ (1 / number of years) –1]*100.
Methodology for gap filling
When the percentage of change was not available for a particular year, the European Commission's annual macroeconomic database (Ameco) was used as data source. The figure for the missing year is estimated on the basis of the annual growth rate from Ameco.
No methodology references available.
The sectoral breakdown of final energy consumption includes industry, transport, households, services, agriculture, fisheries and other sectors. To be consistent with projection data, the indicator aggregates agriculture, fisheries and other sectors together with the services sector. The inclusion of agriculture and fisheries together with the services sector is however questionable given their divergent trends.
Because the main focus of the indicator is on trends, energy intensity is presented as an index. It should be noted that the final energy intensities between sectors, and also the total final energy intensity, are not directly comparable, because as described above, the definitions of energy intensity within each sector not identical. The indicator serves to highlight the evolution in energy intensity within each sector.
Data sets uncertainty
Data have been traditionally compiled by Eurostat through the annual Joint Questionnaires, shared by Eurostat and the International Energy Agency, following a well established and harmonised methodology. Methodological information on the annual Joint Questionnaires and data compilation can be found in Eurostat's web page for metadata on energy statistics. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_SDDS/en/nrg_quant_esms.htm
No uncertainty has been specified
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
Energy (Primary topic)
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
- ENER 021
Contacts and ownership
EEA Contact InfoCinzia Pastorello
EEA Management Plan2010 2.8.1 (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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