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Total primary energy intensity (CSI 028/ENER 017) - Assessment published Apr 2006

Indicator Assessment Created 05 Apr 2006 Published 12 Apr 2006 Last modified 07 Jul 2011, 02:50 PM
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Generic metadata


Energy Energy (Primary topic)

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

Key policy question: Has there been a complete decoupling in Europe between economic growth and energy consumption?

Key messages

Economic growth is requiring less additional energy consumption, mainly as a result of structural changes in the economy. However, total energy consumption is still increasing.

Total energy intensity, EU-25

Note: Some estimates have been necessary in order to compute the EU-25 GDP index in 1990

Data source:

Eurostat and Ameco database, European Commission.

Downloads and more info

Total energy intensity by country

Note: The year for the reference index value is 1995 because GDP was not available for all EU countries in 1990

Data source:


Downloads and more info

Key assessment

Total energy consumption in the EU-25 grew at an average annual rate of just below 0.8 % over the period 1990 to 2003, while Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew at an estimated average annual rate of 2 %. As a result, total energy intensity in the EU-25 fell at an average rate of 1.2 % per year. Despite this relative decoupling of total energy consumption and economic growth, total energy consumption increased by 10.9 % over the period.

Since 2000, the rate of decrease in energy intensity has slowed, and even increased between 2002 and 2003. This was due to a slowdown in the rate of GDP growth, while energy consumption continued to rise strongly.

In most EU-25 Member States total energy intensity has fallen. The average annual decrease in the new EU Member States was around 3 times higher than that in the pre-2004 EU-15 Member States. Despite this converging trend, total energy intensity in the new Member States was on average still 1.5 times above that in the pre-2004 Member States. Estonia, Slovakia, Finland and the Czech Republic had the highest energy intensities in 2003, while Ireland, Italy and Malta showed the lowest intensities (based on GDP in purchasing power standards).

Reductions in energy intensity were influenced both by structural changes of the economy and improvements in the technical efficiency of appliances or processes or better insulation in buildings. Much of the reduction was due to structural changes in the economy, particularly during the first half of the 1990s. These included a shift from industry towards services which are typically less energy-intensive, a shift within the industrial sector from energy-intensive industries towards higher value-added, less energy-intensive industries, and one-off changes in some Member States. The steep decrease in the new Member States was influenced by the opening up of the economies and changes in ownership structures (through increasing privatisation). Rises in the price of raw materials and energy also increased the priority for efficiency in industry.

Trends in final energy consumption intensity by sector during 1990-2003 suggest that there have been substantial improvements in the energy intensity in the industry and services sectors. In contrast, the transport sector showed only limited decoupling of energy consumption from economic growth. In the household sector, there was no decoupling of final energy consumption from population growth. The lack of improvement in final energy intensity in the household sector is influenced by rising living standards, leading to a larger number of households, lower occupancy levels and increased use of household appliances.

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

User not found: pastocin


EEA Management Plan

2010 (note: EEA internal system)


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