Progress on energy efficiency in Europe
Over the period 1990-2010, energy efficiency increased by 20% in EU-27 countries at an annual average rate of 1.1%/year, driven by improvements in the industrial sector (1.7%/year) and households (1.6%/year).
Is the final energy consumption becoming more efficient?
Energy efficiency gain from building standards of new buildings in the EU-27
Note: The figure shows an estimate of the impact standards on new buildings had on the average unit consumption for space heating of the dwelling stock for the EU as a whole. New dwellings built in 2010 consume “in theory” ( i.e. according to the standards) around 40% less than in 1990.Downloads and more info
Drivers of the change in average annual energy consumption per household in the EU-27 between 1990 and 2010
Note: The energy consumption of households is decomposed in different explanatory effects: change in average dwelling size, increasing number of appliances (more electrical appliances) and central heating diffusion, energy efficiency improvement (as measured from ODEX) and change in behaviour related to more confort.Downloads and more info
Trends in household energy consumption for cooling per m2
Note: The left figure shows the energy consumption for air conditioning per m2 for the stock average The right figure shows the reversed trends with an increasing electricity consumption of air conditioning.Downloads and more info
Energy efficiency improvement for final consumers
- Over the period 1990-2010 energy efficiency for final consumers has improved by 20%, at an annual average rate of 1.1%/year, as measured according to the ODEX indicator (Figure 1). All of the observed improvement took place before 2007 (-1.3%/year). In more recent years, progress in improving energy efficiency slowed down and the trend was even reversed in 2009 due to the economic recession (increase of ODEX by 0.4% in 2009, implying a deterioration of energy efficiency by 0.4% compared to 2008). Because of the slower progress since 2007, energy efficiency only improved by 0.9%/year on average at EU level between 2005 and 2010.
- Over the period 1990-2010, energy efficiency in industry has improved in EU-27 countries by 29%, at an annual average rate of 1.7% per year (Figure 1). Greater progress was achieved in the nineties (2.2%/year) and there was a slow down between 2000 and 2007 (1.8%/year). Since 2008, there has been no further progress. In fact we observe a reverse in trend since 2009. The loss of efficiency during a recession period is linked to the fact that, the energy consumption does not follow the reduction in activity as part of the consumption is not linked to the level of production, also because industrial equipment, such as kilns, boilers or motors, are less efficient when they do not operate at full capacity. In 2010, energy efficiency continued to deteriorate (by 0.3%), although there was a strong recovery in industrial production (+7.4%); there is no clear explanation behind this observed trend’. Over the period 1990-2010, improvements took place in all industrial branches except the textile industry. The three most energy intensive branches (chemicals, steel and paper), which represent over 50% of the energy consumption of the sector, reduced their specific energy consumption, i.e. energy consumption per unit of physical output, by 53%, 27% and 11% respectively. Significant improvements were also made in the machinery and cement industries which reduced their specific energy consumption by 31% and 17% respectively.
- Over the period 1990-2010, energy efficiency in the household sector increased by 27%, at an average rate of 1.6% per year (Figure 1). Most of this progress was due to space heating (improvement of 1.8%/year) followed by large electrical appliances (1.4%/year). However, part of this improvement was offset by an increase in the number of appliances and larger homes. The combined effect of these two factors increased the energy consumption per dwelling by around 0.4% a year on average (Figure 3), offsetting around 45% of the energy efficiency improvement achieved through technological innovation.
- Energy efficiency improvements for space heating occurred as a result of better thermal performance of buildings encouraged by mandatory efficiency standards for new buildings, increase in the penetration of condensing boilers and heat pumps and the thermal retrofitting of existing dwellings. All EU countries have developed thermal regulations for new dwellings, some of them being introduced as far back as during the seventies. These standards require a theoretical maximum heating unit consumption for new buildings. However, the magnitude of the impact of such standards varies across the countries, depending on the number of standards upgrades, their severity and the annual volume of construction (i.e. the share of new buildings in the total stock). It is estimated that new dwellings built in 2010 consumed about 40% less energy than dwellings built in 1990, because of new building codes. This impact is however limited due to the fact that dwellings built since 1990 only represented 20% of the total stock in 2010. Figure 2 shows an estimate of the impact standards on new buildings had on the average unit consumption for space heating of the dwelling stock for the EU as a whole: standards for new buildings contributed to reducing the average unit consumption of the building stock by 0.5%/year on average between 1990 and 2010, which represents one third of the total saving. By 2020 all new buildings in the EU should be “nearly-zero energy buildings” according to the EPBD. The required decrease in energy consumption of “low energy buildings” will range from 30 to 50% of what is presently required for new buildings with the existing regulations. That would generally correspond to an annual energy consumption of 40-60 kWh/m2 in EU countries (including generally energy use for water heating, air conditioning, ventilation and lighting). For large appliances, the improvement in energy efficiency results from technical improvement driven by EU mandatory Directives on labelling, minimum energy standards for cold appliances and voluntary agreements with CECED (the association of domestic equipment manufacturers). As a result, the share of appliances which are most efficient (A, A+, A++) has increased significantly: from 6% in 1997 to 94% in 2009 for refrigerators and from 3% to 95% for washing machines, for example.
- The energy used for space heating (at normal climate) per m2 has decreased steadily by around 1.8%/year at EU level from 1990 to 2010 with even an acceleration since 2000 (2.6 %/year).The specific annual energy consumption per m² for space heating decreased in all countries since 2000, except in Bulgaria and Italy (Figure 4). The reduction was quite significant in The Netherlands, Ireland and France since 1990, as well as in some new member countries since 2000 (e.g. Romania, Latvia, Slovenia), thanks to a combined effect of higher energy prices and energy efficiency improvements. There is a factor 4 difference between the lowest energy consumption per m2 in southern countries such as Cyprus and Spain and the northern countries with the highest unit consumption (Estonia, Finland, Latvia); there is a factor 2 difference between these highest values and the other Mediterranean countries (Croatia, Bulgaria, Greece and Italy) and The Netherlands. On average, the unit consumption for space heating stands around 130 kWh/m2 for the EU as a whole in 2010 (Figure 5).
- Energy consumption for air conditioning per m2 for the stock average is increasing rapidly (Figure 6, graph 1). However, air conditioning consumption per m2 related to dwellings with air conditioning only has decreased since 2000 in most countries due to improved efficiency of air conditioners : by around -6%/year in Cyprus, -1.1%/year in Croatia, -0.9%/year in Austria, -0.3%/year in Italy and Spain. Trends are reversed for Slovenia and Bulgaria with an increasing electricity consumption of air conditioning, by respectively 0.2%/year and 0.6%/year (Figure 6, graph 2). The share of dwellings with air conditioning has particularly increased in Spain (from 15% in 2000 to 60% in 2010), Italy (from 11% to 35%), Cyprus (from 40% to 90%) and Croatia (from 17% to 27%). In Bulgaria and Slovenia the diffusion of air conditioning is more recent but important (15% of dwellings equipped in 2010). In 2010, the average unit consumption per m2 for air-conditioning is still low as the percentage of dwellings with air conditioning is low although progressing rapidly. In Italy, Spain and Cyprus (three countries with a relative high share of dwellings with air-conditioning, 35% 60% and 90% respectively), the average unit consumption for air-conditioning is particularly low (less than 5 kWh/m2) compared to more than 20 kWh/m2 for Croatia, or 55 kWh/m2 for Bulgaria. (Figure 7).
- In the EU-27 countries, energy efficiency in the transport sector increased by 15% between 1990 and 2010, at an annual average rate of 0.8% due to increased efficiency particularly for passenger cars and airplanes.
The energy efficiency of cars, measured by the reduction in the specific consumption of fuel by cars (l/100 km), improved by 0.9%/year. This improvement results from the combined effect of higher fuel prices and several types of EU and national policy measures on new cars, such as the voluntary agreement of the European Commission with three cars manufacturers associations (ACEA, JAMA and KAMA agreements) signed in 1995, more recently the new regulation imposing a limit of 130 g CO2/km for car manufacturers for their average sales by 2015., the mandatory labeling of new cars imposed by an EU directive and a new fiscal regime lowering the tax for efficient cars in EU many countries. The impact of all these measures was as significant reduction in the average emission of new cars. Since 2005 we can observe a slowdown in the improvement of energy efficiency for trucks and light vehicles, resulting in an increase in the consumption of road goods per tonne-kilometre. Even a loss of efficiency has been observed since 2008 because of the economic crisis. Slower progress can be observed for rail and inland waterways, with a small decrease in the unit consumption of 0.5%/year and 0.4%/year over the years 1990-2010 respectively.
- In the service sector, the fuel consumption per employee, which mainly correspond to thermal uses, has decreased by 0.9%/year since 1990, with an acceleration since 2005 (-2.3%/year). Electricity consumption per employee in EU-27 increased by 1.1%/year since 1990, due to increased use of air conditioning in southern countries and use of IT and other electrical equipment in general. In fact, the service sector saw the highest increase in energy consumption since 1990 (see ENER16). Since 2005 there is a reverse trends with a slight decrease of the electricity consumption per employee (-0.2%/year compared to +1.5%/year from 1990 to 2005).
 Including for instance France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria and Sweden.
 Estimation based on the relative performance of new buildings built with new regulations, based on building codes, compared to the performance of new buildings built in 1990.
 This estimate was based on a modelling assuming for new dwellings that their unit consumption is equal to the theoretical consumption as implied by the standards. This approach overestimates the impact of building regulations as it is well known, but not well quantified, that the actual unit of new dwellings is higher than this consume more than this theoretical consumption, because of non compliance and rebound effects (the fact that in well insulated dwellings occupants tend to have a higher indoor temperature than in less insulated dwellings).
 Source: GFK
 This could be due to extensive insulation measures in existing dwellings, to the large diffusion of gas condensing boilers and to the structure of the dwellings stock, with relatively few detached single family dwellings.
 Mainly since 1999: the average price of motor fuels for cars (weighted average of gasoline and diesel) was 47% higher in 2008 than in 1999 in the EU (real prices corrected for inflation).
 Regulation (EC) No 443/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 setting emission performance standards for new passenger cars as part of the Community's integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles.
 Directive 1999/94/EC on passenger car labelling on fuel economy rating.
 The energy efficiency of trucks and light vehicles is measured as the ratio between the energy consumption and the traffic of goods in tone-kilometre.
 Unit energy consumption per gross tonne-kilometre of rail and unit energy consumption per tonne-kilometre of water.
 At normal climate.
Indicator specification and metadata
The ODEX index (Fig.1) measures the energy efficiency progress by main sector (industry, transport, households) and for the whole economy (all final consumers). For each sector, the index is calculated as a weighted average of sub-sectoral indices of energy efficiency progress; sub-sectors being industrial or service sector branches or end-uses for households or transport modes.
- The sub-sectoral indices are calculated from variations of unit energy consumption indicators, measured in physical units and selected so as to provide the best “proxy” of energy efficiency progress, from a policy evaluation viewpoint. The fact that indices are used enables to combine different units for a given sector, for instance for households kWh/appliance, koe/m2, tep/dwelling…
- The weight used to get the weighted aggregate is the share of each sub- sector in the total energy consumption of the sub –sectors considered in the calculation.
A value of ODEX equal to 90 means a 10% energy efficiency gain.
The variation of the specific consumption of space heating per dwelling linked to building standards is modelled as the change brought about by the introduction of new dwellings with a better insulation than the whole stock since a base year (e.g. 1990), assuming that the unit consumption of new dwellings is equal to the theoretical value implied by thermal regulations (Fig.2).
This effect is calculated as follow:
∆UCnewt = (UCnewt * nbrlpnt + ∆UCnewt-1 * (nbrlprt – nbrlpnt)) / nbrlprt
with: ∆UCnewt=0 = ∆UCnewt=1990 = UCt=1990
nbrlprt: stock of dwellings at year t
nbrlpnt: the volume of construction at year t
UCt: unit consumption per dwelling for space heating at year t
The ODEX index (Fig.1) is represented in percentage change compared to 1990 levels. The improvements of the energy performance of buildings as a result of tightening building codes are represented also in percentage change compared to 1990 levels (Fig.2). The effects of the main drivers influencing the energy efficiency progress is represented in percentage change compared to 1990 levels (Fig.3). Energy consumption for households per square meter (climate corrected) is represented as percentage change compared to a baseline year (1990, 2000). Energy consumption for households for space heating per square meter (climate corrected) is expressed in kWh/sqm (Fig.4). The energy consumption for space heating is expressed in kWh/sqm (Fig.5). Energy consumption for space cooling is represented both in kWh/sqm of average floor area as well as kWh/sqm of air conditioned space (Fig.6).
Policy context and targets
The trend in final energy consumption provides a broad indication of progress in reducing final energy consumption and associated environmental impacts by the different end-use sectors (transport, industry, services and households).
The type and magnitude of energy-related pressures on the environment (e.g. GHG emissions, air pollution, etc) depends both on the sources of energy as well as on the total amount of energy consumed. One way of reducing energy-related pressures on the environment is to use less energy. This may result from reducing the demand for energy services (e.g. heat demand, passenger or freight transport) or by using energy in a more efficient way thereby using less energy per unit of activity or a combination of these. See also ENER 16 and ENER 21.
The Europe 2020 growth growth strategy aims to address shortcoming of the European economic model while creating coditions for smarter, more sustainable and inclusive growth. One of the headline targets include the objective of increasing the share of renewable energy in final energy consumption to 20% by 2020.
The Directive 2012/27/eu on energy efficiency establishes a common framework of measures for the promotion of energy efficiency within the European Union in order to achieve the headline target of 20% reduction in gross inland energy consumption. Member States are requested to set indicative targets. It is up to the Member states whether they base their targets on gross inland consumption, final energy consumption, primary or final energy savings or energy intensity. This directive has a direct impact on the renewables target since it aims to reduce the final energy consumption, thus making the renewables target easier to reach.
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.
On 15 December 2011, the European Commission adopted the Communication "Energy Roadmap 2050". The EU is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 80-95% below 1990 levels by 2050 in the context of necessary reductions by developed countries as a group. In the Energy Roadmap 2050 the Commission explores the challenges posed by delivering the EU's decarbonisation objective while at the same time ensuring security of energy supply and competitiveness.
On 10 November 2010, the European Commission has adopted the Communication "Energy 2020 - A strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy". The Communication defines the energy priorities for the next ten years and sets the actions to be taken in order to tackle the challenges of saving energy, achieving a market with competitive prizes and secure supplies, boosting technological leadership, and effectively negotiate with our international partners.
The Directive 2012/27/eu on energy efficiency establishes a common framework of measures for the promotion of energy efficiency within the European Union in order to achieve the headline target of 20% reduction in gross inland energy consumption. Member States are requested to set indicative targets. It is up to the Member states whether they base their targets on gross inland consumption, final energy consumption, primary or final energy savings or energy intensity.
Directive on emissions on new light commercial vehicles (2011/510)
sets emission performance standards for new light commercial vehicles as part of the Union's integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles.
Energy Performance of Buildings Directive: recast version in 2010 (2010/31/EU) EPBD, 2002/91/EC is the main legislative instrument affecting energy use and efficiency in the building sector in the EU. The Directive tackles both new build and the existing housing stock.
Energy Labelling Directive: recast version in 2010 (2010/30/EC) Directive 92/75/EEC is a framework Directive which facilitates the labelling of products so that the power consumption of one make and model can be compared to another allowing consumers to make informed purchasing decisions.
Directive on emissions of new cars (2009/443) sets emission performance standards for new passenger cars as part of the Community's integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles. One way to achieve these performance standards is to increase the engine efficiency.
Energy Efficiency Plan 2011, [COM(2011) 109 final] Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. Proposes additional measures to achieve the 20 % primary energy saving target by 2020.
The Directive 2012/27/eu on energy efficiency establishes a common framework of measures for the promotion of energy efficiency within the European Union in order to achieve the headline target of 20% reduction in gross inland energy consumption. Member States are requested to set indicative targets. It is up to the Member states whether they base their targets on gross inland consumption, final energy consumption, primary or final energy savings or energy intensity. However this indicator does not monitor progress at EU level on the energy efficiency target (different methodologies may be applied for this purpose particularly if the emphasis is on energy savings) but it does provide an indication of progress to date in achieving energy efficiency (in this context energy efficiency means mainly improvements in technological performance).
Related policy documents
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.
Action Plan for Energy Efficiency
COM(2010) 639 final: Energy 2020 – A strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy
A strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy
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
Decision No 1230/2003/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2003 adopting a multiannual programme for action in the field of energy: "Intelligent Energy — Europe" (2003 — 2006) (Text with EEA relevance)
The directive is relatefd to energy end-use efficiency and energy services and repeals Council Directive 93/76/EEC
Energy labelling directive Directive 2010/30/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 on the indication by labelling and standard product information of the consumption of energy and other resources by energy-related products
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)
Energy efficiency: delivering the 20% target - COM 2008 772 final
European leaders committed themselves to reduce primary energy consumption by 20% compared to projections for 2020. Energy efficiency is the most cost-effective way of reducing energy consumption while maintaining an equivalent level of economic activity. Improving energy efficiency also addresses the key energy challenges of climate change, energy security and competitiveness.
REGULATION (EC) No 443/2009 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL 443/2009
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.
REGULATION (EU) No 510/2011
REGULATION (EU) No 510/2011 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL setting emission performance standards for new light commercial vehicles as part of the Union's integrated approach to reduce CO 2 emissions from light-duty vehicles
The EU climate and energy (CARE) Package
The climate and energy package is a set of binding legislation which aims to ensure the European Union meets its ambitious climate and energy targets for 2020. These targets, known as the "20-20-20" targets, set three key objectives for 2020: A 20% reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels; Raising the share of EU energy consumption produced from renewable resources to 20%; A 20% improvement in the EU's energy efficiency.
Methodology for indicator calculation
Odyssee database covers EU-27 plus Norway and Croatia.
Methodology and frequency of data collection
Data collected annually in the framework of the ODYSSEE MURE project
Methodology of data manipulation
The trends observed for some sectors or end-uses, especially for space heating are very irregular, which results in strong fluctuations in the ODEX, that are difficult to understand as energy efficiency progress should normally change smoothly (incremental technical change). Such fluctuations can be linked to various factors: imperfect climatic corrections, especially with warm winters, behavioural factors, influence of business cycles, imperfection of statistics, especially for the last year. To reduce the fluctuations, ODEX is calculated as a 3 years moving average. The value used for year t is the average of t-1, t and t+1.
Some sub-sectors are not accounted for in ODEX, such as mining, construction, other manufacturing industries, small electrical appliances, lighting, services. The reason is that energy efficiency progress is difficult to capture with the existing indicators (e.g. electricity consumption per dwelling or employee), that are usually increasing because of more appliances and the diffusion of air conditioning in services. The implicit assumption in the mode of calculation of the ODEX is that all these sub-sectors have the same energy efficiency gains as the sector average.
Calculation of the ODEX index for industry
For industry, the evaluation is carried out at the level of 10 branches:
- 4 main branches: chemicals, food, textile & leather and equipment goods;
- 3 energy intensive branches: steel, cement and pulp & paper
- 3 residual branches: other primary metals (i.e. primary metals minus steel), other non-metallic minerals (i.e. non-metallic mineral minus cement) and other pulp, paper and printing (i.e. mainly printing ).
The unit consumption is expressed in terms of energy used per ton produced for energy intensive products (steel, cement and paper) and in terms of energy used related to the production index for the other branches. Unit energy consumption captures the energy efficiency development better than traditional energy intensities (per unit of value added). For some branches the trends shown include also some non-technical changes, especially in the chemical industry the shift to light chemicals, due to the fact that this sector is not sufficiently disaggregated.
Calculation of the ODEX index for transport
For the transport sector, the evaluation is carried out at the level of 8 modes or vehicle types: cars, trucks, light vehicles, motorcycles, buses, total air transport, rail, and water transport. The overall energy efficiency index aggregates the trends for each transport mode in a single indicator for the whole sector. For cars, the energy efficiency is measured by the specific consumption, expressed in litre/100km. For the transport of goods (trucks and light vehicles), the unit consumption per ton-km is used, as the main activity is to move goods. For other modes of transport various indicators of unit consumption are used, taking for each mode the most relevant indicator given the statistics available:
- toe/passenger for air transport,
- goe/pass-km for passenger rail,
- goe/t-km for transport of goods by rail and water,
- toe per vehicle for motorcycles and buses.
Calculation of the ODEX index for the household sector
For households, the evaluation is carried out at the level of 3 end-uses (heating, water heating, cooking) and 5 large appliances (refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, dishwashers and TVs). For each end-use, the following indicators are considered to measure efficiency progress:
- Heating: unit consumption per m2 at normal climate (toe/m2)
- Water heating: unit consumption per dwelling with water heating
- Cooking: unit consumption per dwelling
- Large electrical appliances: specific electricity consumption, in kWh/year/appliance
Energy consumption per m2 for space heating or cooling: final energy consumption for space heating (or cooling) / (number of dwelling * dwelling size)
Odyssee last update : August 2012
Methodology for gap filling
To calculate the ODEX (Fig.1), data submitted to the ODYSSEE project by countries on voluntary basis is used. Not all countries submit the necessary data. Therefore, for the EU-27, data extrapolations are being used based as much as possible on Eurostat supporting data (e.g. growth rates, shares of various energy forms in final energy consumption, etc). In this way some consistency between this top-down calculation and the bottom up made for specific countries is ensured (also country data makes use of Eurostat to the extent possible).
To calculate the effect of new building codes (Fig.2), the theorical unit consumption of new dwellings for EU as a whole is based on an extrapolation from 11 representative countries (Italy, France, Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Germany and Austria, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia); the theorical consumption for new dwelling by country is weighted by the annual construction to be able to produce results at EU level.
No methodology references available.
No uncertainty has been specified
Data sets uncertainty
No uncertainty has been specified
No uncertainty has been specified
provided by Enerdata Research Service
Energy (Primary topic)
Typology: Efficiency indicator (Type C - Are we improving?)
- ENER 037
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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