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Total energy intensity - outlook from EEA

Indicator Specificationexpired Created 12 Apr 2007 Published 08 Jun 2009 Last modified 04 Sep 2015, 06:59 PM
This content has been archived on 12 Nov 2013, reason: Content not regularly updated
Indicator codes: Outlook 049
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Assessment versions

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Justification for indicator selection

The type and extent of energy-related pressures on the environment depends on the sources of energy and how and in which quantities they are used. One way of reducing energy-related pressures on the environment is to use less energy. This may result from reducing the demand for energy-related activities (e.g. for warmth, personal mobility or freight transport), or by using energy in a more efficient way (thereby using less energy per unit of demand), or from a combination of the two.

The indicator identifies to what extent there is a decoupling between energy consumption and economic growth, but it does not show any of the underlying reasons that affect the trends. A reduction in total energy intensity can be the result of positive improvements in energy efficiency or changes in energy demand resulting from other factors including structural, societal, behavioral or technical change.

Scientific references

Indicator definition

Definition: Energy intensity is a ratio between the Total Energy Consumption and Gross Domestic Product calculated for a calendar year. Energy intensity can be provided as a list of energy intensity indicators: for industry, residential, tertiary and transport. The indicator can be presented measured in relative index where 1990th energy intensity level is measured as a point 100.

Model used: PRIMES

Ownership: European Environment Agency

Temporal coverage: 1990 - 2030

Geographical coverage: EU 15 : Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom; EU 12 : Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia


In absolute terms: toe/MEuro

Policy context and targets

Context description

Even though no target exists directly for total energy intensity, reducing energy intensity and increasing energy efficiency is a central objective for environmental integration in the energy sector. These aspects of improving energy efficiency are highlighted in a wide range of international policies.

Pan-European policy context

The recent pan-european policies concerning different aspects of energy efficiency, consumption and, therefore, intensity have been developed under different international fora. 

The Committee on Sustainable Energy seeks to reform energy prices and subsidies and ways how to carry out it to meet more sustainable energy production and consumption in the region (UNECE Guidelines).

Kiev Declaration "Environment for Europe" (2003) aims at supporting further efforts to promote energy efficiency to meet environmental objectives.

EU policy context

On 23 January 2008 the European Commission adopted the 'Climate Action and Renewable Energy' package. The Package sets a number of targets for EU member states with the ambition to achieve the goal of limiting the rise in global average temperature to 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times including: GHG reduction of 20% compared to 1990 by 2020. (under a satisfactory global climate agreement this could be scaled up to a 30% reduction); 20% reduction in energy consumption through improved energy efficiency, an increase in renewable energy's share to 20% and a 10% share for sustainably produced biofuels and other renewable fuels in transport. With these goals in mind, each Member State will by June 30th 2010 submit a National Renewable Energy Action Plan to the Commission.

EECCA policy context

EECA regions has a several number of declarations that do not have indicative and numeral targets and provide some issues relating to improvement of management and integration in energy sectors as well as their implementation into climate change policies. The main policy where this concepts are highlighted is EECCA Environmental Strategy.


No direct target exists for reducing total energy consumption intensity. However, several energy and environment targets are indirectly influenced by or directly influence changes in energy intensity, in particular:

Pan-European level:

  • To improve energy efficiency (Kiev Declaration)
  • Reforming energy prices and subsidies to achieve more sustainable energy consumption (UNECE Guidelines)

EU level

  • The directive on energy end-use efficiency and energy services (COM(2003) 739 final), which sets indicative targets for Member States to save 1 % per year of all energy supplied between compared with business-as-usual. The directive was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council on 14 March 2006.
  • The indicative target for final energy consumption intensity in the EU, set in the 1998 Communication 'Energy Efficiency in the European Community: Towards a Strategy for the Rational Use of Energy', COM(98) 246 final, of 1% per year improvement in the intensity of final energy consumption from 1998 'over and above that which would otherwise be attained'.
  • The EU and new Member States targets under the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The EU indicative Combined Heat and Power target set in the Community Strategy on cogeneration to promote Combined Heat and Power, COM(97) 514final, of an 18% share of CHP electricity production in total gross electricity production by 2010.
  • The EU Directive 2004/8/EC on the promoting of cogeneration based on a useful heat demand in the internal energy market. The purpose of this Directive is to increase energy efficiency and improve security of supply by creating a framework for promotion and development of high efficiency cogeneration of heat and power based on useful heat demand and primary energy savings in the internal energy market.

EECCA level

  • Improve integration of energy efficiency and environment into energy policies (EECCA Strategy)
  • Incorporate energy efficiency into climate change policies (EECCA Strategy)

Links to other policies

     EECCA Environmental Strategy

     UNECE Guidelines 

Related policy documents

Key policy question

Are we decoupling energy consumption from economic growth?


Methodology for indicator calculation

The indicator of the Total energy intensity is produced using the PRIMES model. The model covers the horizon from 1990 to 2030 with 5 years periods. A fundamental assumption in PRIMES is that producers and consumers both respond to changes in prices.


Overview of the PRIMES Model

PRIMES is a partial equilibrium model for the European Union energy system developed by, and maintained at, The National Technical University of Athens, E3M-Laboratory. The most recent version of the model used in the calculations covers each of the EU Member States, EU candidate countries and Neighbouring countries, uses Eurostat as the main data source, and is updated with 2000 as the base year. The PRIMES model is the result of collaborative research under a series of projects supported by the Joule programme of the Directorate General for Research of the European Commission.

The model determines the equilibrium by finding the prices of each energy form such that the quantity producers find best to supply match the quantity consumers wish to use. The equilibrium is static (within each time period) but repeated in a time-forward path, under dynamic relationships. The model is behavioural but also represents in an explicit and detailed way the available energy demand and supply technologies and pollution abatement technologies. It reflects considerations about market economics, industry structure, energy/environmental policies and regulation. These are conceived so as to influence the market behaviour of energy system agents. The modular structure of PRIMES reflects a distribution of decision-making among agents that decide individually about their supply, demand, combined supply and demand, and prices. Then the market-integrating part of PRIMES simulates market clearing. PRIMES is a general purpose model. It conceived for forecasting, scenario construction and policy impact analysis. It covers a medium to long-term horizon. It is modular and allows either for a unified model use or for partial use of modules to support specific energy studies.

For more information see here.


Methodology for gap filling

No methodology for gap filling has been specified. Probably this info has been added together with indicator calculation.

Methodology references


Methodology uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Data sets uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Further work

Short term work

Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.

Long term work

Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.

General metadata

Responsibility and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Anita Pirc Velkavrh


No owners.


Indicator code
Outlook 049
Version id: 1


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DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)

Related content

Data references used

Relevant policy documents

European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100