Published (reviewed and quality assured)
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 exerted by energy production and consumption on the environment. This indicator identifies to what extent there is decoupling between energy consumption and economic growth. Relative decoupling occurs when energy consumption grows, albeit 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 from energy production and consumption.
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.
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.
Gross inland energy consumption is measured in 1000 tonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe), while GDP is expressed in million Euros 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 the table in Figure 2 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
- 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 being to make a significant contribution to meeting the EU’s 2020 energy efficiency target.
- The Energy Roadmap 2050 for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050 (COM(2011) 112 final) presents a roadmap for action in line with an 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) identifies energy efficiency as a key priority.
- 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 emissions allowance trading scheme of community Directive 2009/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the geological storage of carbon dioxide.
- 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 emissions allowance trading within the community.
- Regulation (EC) no 443/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council setting emissions 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) reviews short, 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.
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 a 20% reduction in primary energy consumption 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.
Related policy documents
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 2009/29/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.
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.
Action Plan for Energy Efficiency
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
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 2009/28/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 23 April 2009 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources and amending and subsequently repealing Directives 2001/77/EC and 2003/30/EC
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.
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.
Key policy question
Has there been absolute decoupling between economic growth and energy consumption in Europe?
Methodology for indicator calculation
- Geographical coverage:
The EEA member countries. These are the 28 European Union Member States plus Turkey, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Norway. Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein are not covered or only partly covered in this factsheet due to lack of data for recent years.
- 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:
Numerator: 100900 Gross inland consumption (of energy).
Denominator: B1GM GDP 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 the EU28 is not available in Eurostat before 1995 due to a lack of data for some countries. The GDP growth rate published by the World Bank (reference World Development Indicators 2012) was used as an additional data source for gap filling 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 needs to be corrected to take into account differences in the general price levels. 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 EU15 countries: after adjustment, the energy intensities of these countries is almost twice as low, on average, than the values measured with exchange rates, and are more in line with other EU countries.
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.
No methodology references available.
EEA data references
- No datasets have been specified here.
Data sources in latest figures
There is no GDP available from Eurostat for the EU28 before 1995. Moreover, data was not available for a particular year for certain EU28 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 has 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 point 3 of Technical information presented above. Methodological information related to GDP can be found on Eurostat’s website.
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.
Responsibility and ownership
EEA Contact InfoMihai Florin Tomescu
Frequency of updates
Typology: Performance indicator (Type B - Does it matter?)
For references, please go to http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/indicators/total-primary-energy-intensity-2 or scan the QR code.
PDF generated on 04 Dec 2016, 09:45 AM