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Energy intensity

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Contents
 

Justification for indicator selection

Energy-intensity is expressed as the ratio between gross inland energy consumption and GDP. 

Historically, economic growth led to higher energy consumption, thus increasing the pressure of energy production and consumption on the environment. The indicator identifies to what extent there is a decoupling between energy consumption and economic growth. Relative decoupling occurs when energy consumption grows, but more slowly than the economy (i.e. gross domestic product). Absolute decoupling occurs when energy consumption is stable or falls while GDP grows. An absolute decoupling is likely to alleviate the environmental pressures of energy production and consumption.

Environmental context

Decoupling energy-consumption from economic growth can benefit the simultaneous achievement of economic and environmental goals. It may result from reducing the demand for energy services (e.g. heating, lighting, passenger or freight transport), or by using energy in a more efficient way (thereby using less energy per unit of economic output), or a combination of the two. From an environmental point of view, overall impacts depend on the total amount of energy consumption and the fuels and technology used to generate the energy.

Scientific references:

Indicator definition

Energy intensity is the ratio between the gross inland consumption of energy and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) calculated for a calendar year. The Gross Inland Energy Consumption (GIEC) is calculated as the sum of the gross inland consumption of the five sources of energy: solid fuels, oil, gas, nuclear and renewable sources. To monitor trends, GDP is in constant prices to avoid the impact of inflation, base year 2005.

Units

Gross inland energy consumption is measured in 1000 tonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe) and GDP in million Euro at 2005 market prices. To make comparisons of trends across countries more meaningful, the indicator is presented as an index. For country comparisons, two additional columns are included in Figure 2 (table) to show the current energy intensity in GDP in purchasing power standards for the latest available year, and also the energy intensity in terms of consumption per capita.

Policy context and targets

Context description

  • The Energy Efficiency Directive 2012/27/EU, amending Directives 2009/125/EC and 2010/30/EU, and repealing Directives 2004/8/EC and 2006/32/EC puts forward an EU-wide 20 % energy savings target for 2020, measured against primary energy consumption (i.e. gross inland energy consumption minus non-energy uses). The Directive also transforms certain aspects of the Energy Efficiency Plan 2011 into binding measures, with the objective to make a significant contribution to meeting the EU’s 2020 energy efficiency target.
  • The Energy Roadmap 2050: 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.
  • A resource-efficient Europe – Flagship initiative of the Europe 2020 Strategy (COM(2011) 21)presents a strategic framework that should deliver a more sustainable use of natural resources and the shift towards resource-efficient, low-carbon growth in Europe
  • The Energy Efficiency Plan 2011 (COM(2011) 109 final) proposes additional measures to achieve the 20% primary energy saving target by 2020.
  • The Energy 2020 strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy (COM(2010) 639 final), which identifies energy efficiency as a key priority.
  • The Council adopted on 6 April 2009 the climate-energy legislative package containing measures to fight climate change and promote renewable energy. The measures aim to achieve at EU level a 20% reduction in greenhouse gases (compared to 1990 levels) and a 20% share of renewable energy in the EU's gross final energy consumption by 2020.The climate action and renewable energy (CARE) package includes the following main policy documents
  • 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 communityDirective 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)
  • The 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
  • The 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
  • The Second Strategic Energy Review (COM(2008) 781 final) reviewsshort, medium and long term targets on EU energy security.
  • The EU Action Plan for Energy Efficiency (COM (2006)545 final) aims to boost the cost-effective and efficient use of energy in the EU. One of the priority areas is making power generation and distribution more efficient.

References

EU (2009) Climate action and renewable energy package (CARE Package) http://ec.europa.eu/environment/climat/climate_action.htm
EC, Energy efficiency measures http://ec.europa.eu/energy/efficiency/index_en.htm
COM(2011) 112 final: A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050
COM(2011) 109 final: Energy Efficiency Plan 2011
COM(2010) 639 final: Energy 2020 – A strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy
COM(2008) 781 final - Second Strategic Energy Review
COM(2006) 545 final - Action Plan for Energy Efficiency

Targets

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 primary energy consumption[1] by 2020. Member States are requested to set indicative targets. It is up to the Member States whether they base their targets on primary energy consumption, final energy consumption, primary or final energy savings or energy intensity.


[1] Under Directive 2012/27/EU primary energy consumption is defined as gross inland energy consumption minus non-energy uses.

Related policy documents

  • 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.
  • 2008/101/EC
    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
  • 2008/c 82/01
    Community guidelines on state aid for environmental protection (2008/c 82/01)
  • 2009/28/EC
    Directive 2009/28/ec of the European parliament and of the Council on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources
  • 2009/29/ec
    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.
  • 2009/31/EC
    Directive 2009/31/ec of the European parliament and of the Council on the geological storage of carbon dioxide.
  • Climate action and renewable energy package (CARE Package)
    Combating climate change is a top priority for the EU. Europe is working hard to cut its greenhouse gas emissions substantially while encouraging other nations and regions to do likewise.
  • 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.
  • COM(2006) 545
    Action Plan for Energy Efficiency
  • COM(2008) 781
    COM(2008) 781 final - Second Strategic Energy Review
  • COM(2010) 639 final: Energy 2020 – A strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy
    A strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy
  • COM(2011) 21
    A resource-efficient Europe – Flagship initiative under the Europe 2020 Strategy
  • 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
     
  • Directive 2012/27/eu
    DIRECTIVE 2012/27/EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 25 October 2012 on energy efficiency, amending Directives 2009/125/EC and 2010/30/EU and repealing Directives 2004/8/EC and 2006/32/EC
  • EC, Energy efficiency measures
    Reducing energy consumption and eliminating energy wastage are among the main goals of the European Union (EU). EU support for improving energy efficiency will prove decisive for competitiveness, security of supply and for meeting the commitments on climate change made under the Kyoto Protocol.

Key policy question

Has there been an absolute decoupling in Europe between economic growth and energy consumption?

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

 Technical information

  1. Data source:
    Gross inland energy consumption, Gross domestic product: Eurostat (historical data) http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/
    GDP growth rate non EEA-countries: World Bank (World Development Indicators 2011)  http://data.worldbank.org/data-catalog/world-development-indicators
    Total Primary Energy Supply non- EEA countries: IEA http://data.iea.org/IEASTORE/DEFAULT.ASP
  2. Description of data / Indicator definition:
    Energy intensity is the ratio between the gross inland consumption of energy (or total energy consumption) and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) calculated for a calendar year. The gross inland consumption of energy is calculated as the sum of the gross inland consumption of the five sources of energy: solid fuels, oil, gas, nuclear and renewable sources. To monitor trends, GDP is in constant prices to avoid the impact of inflation, base year 2005 (2000, for all assessments prior to 2014). 
    Units: Gross inland energy consumption is measured in 1000 tonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe) and GDP in million Euro at 2005 market prices. To make comparisons of trends across countries more meaningful, the indicator is presented as an index. For country comparisons, two additional columns are included to show the actual energy intensity in GDP in purchasing power standards for the latest available year, and also the energy intensity in terms of consumption per capita.
  3. Geographical coverage:
    The EEA member countries. These are the 28 European Union Member States and Turkey, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Norway. Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein are not or only partly covered in this factsheet due to lack of data for recent years.
  4. Temporal coverage: 1990-2012
  5. 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 energy intensity (gross inland energy consumption per GDP), measures how much energy is required to generate one unit of GDP. Its variation over time reflects the influence of various factors, which include energy efficiency improvements but also changes in the nature if the economic activity (the “economic structure”) or in the structure of the energy mix, changes in lifestyle (more appliances, higher indoor temperature in dwellings, more cars) etc.
  6. Methodology and frequency of data collection:
    Energy intensity (EI) is defined as gross inland energy consumption (GIEC) divided by gross domestic product (GDP) at constant (2005) prices (i.e. to illustrate trends in economic energy intensity). The coding (used in the Eurostat database) and specific components of the indicator are:
    Numerator: 100900 Gross inland consumption (of energy).
    Denominator: B1GM Gross domestic product in millions of euro, chain-linked volumes, reference year 2005 (GDP in PPS is used for cross-country comparisons of energy intensity in a particular year)
    Average annual rate of growth calculated using: [(last year / base year) ^ (1 / number of years) –1]*100

    GDP for EU28 is not available in Eurostat before 1995 due to lack of data for some countries. The GDP growth rate published by the World Bank (reference World Development Indicators 2012) were used as an additional data source for filling the gaps before 1995. GDP for EU28 as a whole and EEA countries has been calculated as a sum.

    To compare the situation among countries and make a more realistic comparison, the energy intensity need to be corrected to take into account differences in the general prices level. For that purpose, the GDP should be expressed in purchasing power parities. This is particularly true for new Eastern Member Countries where the average price level is lower than in the EU-15 countries: after adjustment the energy intensities of these countries is almost twice lower, on average, than the values measured with exchange rates, and are more in line with other EU countries.

    Qualitative information
  7. Strengths and weaknesses (at data level)
    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

    Gross domestic product (GDP) is the central aggregate of National Accounts. Methodological information related to GDP can be found on Eurostat’s website.
  8. Reliability, accuracy, robustness, uncertainty (at data level):
    Indicator uncertainty (historic data):
    The intensity of energy consumption is relative to changes in real GDP. Cross-country comparisons of energy intensity based on real GDP are relevant for trends but not for comparing energy intensity levels in specific years and specific countries. This is why the indicator is expressed as an index. In order to compare the energy intensity between countries for a specific year, two additional columns are included showing energy intensity in purchasing power standards (PPS) and energy intensity per capita. PPS are currency conversion rates that convert to a common currency and equalise the purchasing power of different currencies. They are an optimal unit for benchmarking country performance in a particular year. Energy intensity should therefore always be put in the broader context of the actual fuel mix used to generate the energy. 
  9. Overall scoring – historical data (1 = no major problems, 3 = major reservations):
    Relevance: 1
    Accuracy: 1
    Comparability over time: 1
    Comparability over space: 1



Methodology for gap filling

No gap filling is necessary.

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

There is no GDP available from Eurostat for the EU-28 before 1995. Moreover, data was not available for a particular year for some EU-28 Member States. The intensity of energy consumption is relative to changes in real GDP. Cross-country comparisons of energy intensity based on real GDP are relevant for trends but not for comparing energy intensity levels in specific years and specific countries. This is why the indicator is expressed as an index. In order to compare the energy intensity between countries for a specific year, two additional columns are included showing energy intensity in purchasing power standards (PPS) and energy intensity per capita. PPS are currency conversion rates that convert to a common currency and equalise the purchasing power of different currencies. They are an optimal unit for benchmarking country performance in a particular year. Energy intensity should therefore always be put in the broader context of the actual fuel mix used to generate the energy.

Data sets uncertainty

Strengths and weaknesses (at data level)

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

Gross domestic product (GDP) is the central aggregate of National Accounts. Some estimates have been necessary using the procedure described in 6. Methodological information related to GDP can be found on Eurostat’s website.

Rationale uncertainty

 

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

Mihai Florin Tomescu

Ownership

European Environment Agency (EEA)

Identification

Indicator code
CSI 028
ENER 017
Specification
Version id: 2
Primary theme: Energy Energy

Permalinks

Permalink to this version
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Permalink to latest version
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Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled every 1 year in July-September (Q3)

Classification

DPSIR: Response
Typology: Performance indicator (Type B - Does it matter?)

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Data references used

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