Final energy consumption intensity (ENER 021) - Assessment published Jan 2013
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?
Over the period 1990-2010, the EU-27 final energy intensity has decreased by 25% at an annual average rate of 1.4%/year. Since 2005, the reduction was slightly higher (1.5%/year), with a stronger decoupling in the agriculture and industrial sectors where the energy intensity has decreased by 2.6%/year and 2.1%/year respectively. In the service and transport sectors the final energy consumption intensities have decreased by 1.3%/year and 0.9%/year since 2005. In the household sector, the final energy consumption per capita was in 2010 almost at the same level as in 2005, as result of counterbalancing effects: larger and more numerous dwellings, greater ownership of electrical appliances on the one hand and energy efficiency improvements on the other hand. Over the period 1990-2010, the final energy intensity in non-EU EEA countries has decreased by 8.5% at an annual average growth rate of 0.4%/year.
Variation of final energy intensity in EU and EEA countries, 1990-2010
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
- GDP growth rate provided by The World Bank
- European Economic Forecast - spring 2010 provided by European Commission (EC)
- Supply, transformation, consumption - all products - annual data provided by Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat)
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
- Supply, transformation, consumption - electricity - annual data provided by Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat)
- European Economic Forecast - spring 2010 provided by European Commission (EC)
Final energy intensity
From 1990 to 2010, the final energy intensity of the EU-27 decreased by 25% at an annual average rate of 1.4% while between 2005-2010 it decreased slightly faster by 1.5%/year. However in 2010, energy intensity in EU-27 increased by 1.5%, with the final energy consumption increasing much faster than GDP (3.7% for final energy consumption and 2.2% for GDP). In 2010, the energy intensity increased in all sectors except transport where the energy intensity decreased by 2.6%. In non-EU EEA member countries, the final energy intensity decreased by 0.4%/year. Over the period 1990-2010; between 2005 and 2010, it remained on average stable. Improvements in final energy intensity were 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 (see ENER 16).
Since 2005, the energy intensity mainly decreased in the agriculture and industrial sectors by respectively 2.6%/year and 2.1%/year. This energy intensity decrease in the industry is mainly due to energy efficiency improvements (see also the ODEX in ENER37) and to a lesser extent to a shift towards less energy-intensive industries. However, in 2010 the energy intensity of industry increased by 2.6% with the final energy consumption increasing by 8.9% and the gross value added by 6.1%. For agriculture, the main drivers are energy efficiency improvements and increase in productivity.
In the service and transport sectors the final energy consumption intensities decreased by 1.3%/year and 0.9%/year respectively since 2005. Changes in energy intensity in services are the result of counterbalancing drivers: energy efficiency, on the one hand, and increase in comfort (in particular with the diffusion of air conditioning) and in the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in offices, on the other hand. The underlying factors explaining the energy efficiency improvement include increase in insulation and diffusion of efficient equipment for heating, air conditioning and lighting. The decrease of the energy intensity in transport is due to different factors: on the one hand this is due to energy efficiency increase with vehicles and mainly cars and to a slowdown in the progression of car ownership because of saturation; on the other hand these benefits have been partially offset by modal shifts to more energy intensive modes of transport (increase in air traffic, in the use of cars instead of public transport and in the use of trucks instead of rail or inland waterways for good transportation). In addition since 2005, there has been no further progress in the efficiency of road transport of goods and even a deterioration with the economic crisis due to lower load factors of trucks and increase in empty running (see also the ODEX in ENER 37).
In the household sector, the final energy consumption per capita was in 2010 almost at the same level as in 2005. The final household energy consumption has grown slightly faster than the population since 1990 (average annual rate of 0.3% for the population compared to 0.6% for the energy consumption). As a result, the final energy intensity in the household sector, measured by the ratio “energy consumption divided by population” has increased moderately by 5.5% between 1990 and 2010, i.e. at an average annual rate of 0.3%. This trend is the result from counterbalancing effects: on the one hand larger dwellings, increased comfort levels and greater ownership of electrical appliances, and on the other hand improvements in the efficiency of electrical and heating appliances and of the buildings’ envelope (see ENER 37). The final energy consumption intensity in the households sector is also closely linked with climatic conditions, as the major part of the energy is used for space heating: the data here are not corrected for the climate (for details on energy efficiency improvements in the household sector see also ENER 37). In particular, the increase in the final energy consumption intensity of the household sector in 2010 (+4.1%) is mainly explained by the cold winter (6% colder than a normal winter and 9% colder than 2005). As a result of the observed trends, the final energy consumption per capita is in 2010 almost at the same level as in 2005.
Final energy intensity decreased rapidly in most new EU member countries: by more than 4%/year on average since 1990 in Estonia, Romania, Lithuania, Slovakia and Bulgaria, between 2 and 4%/year in The Czech Republic, Poland, Luxembourg, Ireland and Latvia, mainly due to energy efficiency progress and restructuring in industry. Since 2005, Romania, Slovakia, Bulgaria, The Czech Republic and Luxembourg, are still experiencing the same pace of decrease; in addition in Spain and Germany, there was a much larger intensity reduction than before (2.3%/year between 2005 and 20010 compared to respectively 0.2 and 1.6%:year over the whole period 1990-2010) particularly because significant reductions in final energy consumption.
In non-EU EEA member countries, the final energy intensity only decreased slightly, by 8.5 % over the period 1990-2010, at an annual average rate of 0.4%: GDP grew at an average annual rate of 2.7% while final energy consumption increased by an average annual rate of 2.2%. Therefore, in these countries, there is a slower pace of decoupling between final energy consumption and economic growth, mainly due to developments in Turkey. Over the period 2005-2010, the intensity decreased even slower, by 0.1%/year, and increased by 1.3% in 2010.
Final energy intensity or final energy consumption intensity refers to the ratio between the final energy consumption and the GDP.
Please note that figures presented in this indicator are not directly comparable with the figures presented in the ENER 22. Most of the trends presented in ENER 022 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).
- No datasets have been specified.
More information about this indicator
See this indicator specification for more details.
Contacts and ownership
EEA Contact InfoAnca-Diana Barbu
EEA Management Plan2012 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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