Energy intensity

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-7-en
Also known as: CSI 028 , ENER 017
Created 01 Oct 2015 Published 05 Nov 2015 Last modified 17 Oct 2016, 03:42 PM
Topics: ,
Between 1990 and 2013, energy intensity (the ratio of gross inland energy consumption and GDP)  decreased by 1.7% per year in the EU28 countries and by 1.6% per year in the EEA countries. In 2013, energy intensity was 32% below the 1990 level in the EU28 and 30% below in the EEA countries. During this period, the rate of decrease of energy intensity in the EU28 has been rather constant. The period 1990-2005 is characterised by relatively high economic growth and the more modest growth of gross inland energy consumption. The period 2005-2013 is characterised by much smaller economic growth and decreasing gross inland energy consumption. The resulting rate of decrease of energy intensity is rather similar in these periods. All EEA member countries [1] show a decrease of energy intensity between 2005 and 2013, except for Norway (annually +1.6%), Estonia (+0.3%) and Turkey (annually +0.3%). The largest decreases were observed in central European countries (e.g. Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia) because of changes in their economic structure. [1] The 33 EEA member countries include the 28 European Union Member States together with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey.

Key messages

Between 1990 and 2013, energy intensity (the ratio of gross inland energy consumption and GDP)  decreased by 1.7% per year in the EU28 countries and by 1.6% per year in the EEA countries. In 2013, energy intensity was 32% below the 1990 level in the EU28 and 30% below in the EEA countries.

During this period, the rate of decrease of energy intensity in the EU28 has been rather constant. The period 1990-2005 is characterised by relatively high economic growth and the more modest growth of gross inland energy consumption. The period 2005-2013 is characterised by much smaller economic growth and decreasing gross inland energy consumption. The resulting rate of decrease of energy intensity is rather similar in these periods.

All EEA member countries [1] show a decrease of energy intensity between 2005 and 2013, except for Norway (annually +1.6%), Estonia (+0.3%) and Turkey (annually +0.3%). The largest decreases were observed in central European countries (e.g. Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia) because of changes in their economic structure.

[1] The 33 EEA member countries include the 28 European Union Member States together with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey.

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

Total energy intensity, relative energy intensity and per capita consumption

Table
Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Energy intensity in the EU-28

  • Between 1990 and 2005, a relative decoupling occurred in the EU28. Since the 2005-2006 peak in EU28 gross inland energy consumption, there has been an absolute decoupling between economic growth and gross inland energy consumption. In 2013, gross inland energy consumption in the EU28 was 8.7% lower than in 2005, while the economy grew by 5.7% during this period.
  • In 2013, gross inland energy consumption in the EU28 was at almost the same level as in 1990 (see ENER 026), while Gross Domestic Product (GDP), measured in 2005 constant prices, grew by 1.7% per year. As a consequence, energy intensity in the EU28 fell by 1.7% per year during this period (see Figure 1).
  • Between 2005 and 2013, gross inland energy consumption in EU28 decreased by 1.1% per year, while GDP increased by 0.7% per year. As a consequence, energy intensity in the EU28 decreased by 1.8% per year (on average) during this period. 
  • In 2013, energy intensity in the EU28 was 32% below the 1990 level. About one third of this reduction was observed between 1996 and 2000, a period dominated by economic growth and a more modest energy consumption. Average per capita gross inland energy consumption in the EU28 was 3.3 tonnes of oil equivalent (TOE) in 2013 (see Figure 2 (Table: Total energy intensity, relative energy intensity (as PPS) and per capita consumption).
  • In the EU28, the observed reduction of energy intensity was influenced by improvements in energy efficiency - both for final users and for power generation - as well as by the increase of renewable energy in the power mix and by structural changes within the economy. The latter included an increase in the contribution of services to GDP and a shift within the industrial sectors from energy intensive industries towards less energy intensive industries that have a higher value added.

 

Energy intensity in EEA member countries

  • Except for Norway (+1.6%), Estonia (+0.3%) and Turkey (+0.3%), all EEA member countries show a decrease of energy intensity between 2005 and 2013. The largest decreases were observed in central European countries (e.g. Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia) because of the changes in their economic structure resulting from the closure of energy inefficient industries in the early 1990s, followed by economic growth in relatively energy extensive sectors during the 2000s.
  • In 2013, significant differences in energy intensity[1] were observed between the EU28 Member States. The highest energy intensity was observed in Estonia, Finland, Czech Republic and Bulgaria. The lowest energy intensity was observed in Ireland, Malta, Denmark and Italy (see Figure 2 (Table: Total energy intensity, relative energy intensity (as PPS) and per capita consumption) and also ENER 016).
  • In 2013, the lowest values for gross inland energy consumption per capita were observed in Turkey, Romania and Croatia (less than 2 TOE per capita in 2013), while the highest values were observed in Luxembourg (8.1 TOE per capita), Norway (6.7 TOE per capita) and Finland (6.3 TOE per capita).

[1] To enable the comparison, energy intensity was measured, in this case, in purchasing power standards relative to the EU28 average.

Indicator specification and metadata

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), 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

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 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.

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 a 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

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

 Technical information

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Methodology of data manipulation: 
Energy intensity is defined as gross inland energy consumption (GIEC) divided by GDP at constant 2005 prices (i.e. to illustrate trends in economic energy intensity) and it 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 of 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), climatic factors such as colder winters, etc. The coding (used in the Eurostat database) and specific components of the indicator are:
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.
Qualitative information
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 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.

Rationale uncertainty

 

Data sources

Generic metadata

Topics:

Energy Energy (Primary topic)

Tags:
gdp | energy | soer2015 european | soer2015
DPSIR: Response
Typology: Performance indicator (Type B - Does it matter?)
Indicator codes
  • CSI 028
  • ENER 017
Dynamic
Temporal coverage:
1990-2013
Geographic coverage:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Mihai Florin Tomescu

EEA Management Plan

2015 1.3.2 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100