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Total primary energy intensity (CSI 028/ENER 017) - Assessment published Apr 2008

Indicator Assessment Created 28 Nov 2007 Published 28 Apr 2008 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 has required less additional energy consumption over the 1990s, although total energy consumption is still increasing. Thus, there has been a relative decoupling but not an absolute decoupling. The average EU citizen uses 3.7 tonnes of oil equivalent per year, although this varies widely across countries.

Total energy intensity in the EU-27 during 1990-2005, 1990=100

Note: Some estimates have been necessary for computing the EU-27 GDP index in 1990

Data source:

European Environment Agency and Eurostat

Downloads and more info

Key assessment

Total energy consumption in the EU-27 grew at an annual rate of just over 0.8 % over the period from 1990 to 2005, while Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in contant prices grew at an average annual rate of 2.1 % during the same period. As a result, total energy intensity in the EU-25 fell at an average rate of -1.3 % per year. Despite this relative decoupling, total energy consumption has increased by 12.0 % overall in the period 1990-2005 (i.e. 0.8 % per year on average).

The reduction of total energy intensity has been influenced both by improvements in energy efficiency and structural changes within the economy. The latter included a shift from industry towards services, which are typically less energy intensive, and a shift within the industrial sector from energy intensive industries towards higher value added less energy intensive industries. Furthermore, improvements in the efficiency of power generation (i.e. less energy input to produce the same energy output) as well as in the intensity in some end-use sectors (industry and services) contributed to the reduced overall energy intensity.

There are significant differences in total energy intensity within the EU-27 Member States, with the highest 'economic' intensities (i.e. intensities in terms of GDP) in Bulgaria, Estonia and Slovakia and the lowest in Ireland, Italy and Denmark (when compared at Purchasing Power Standards. The average EU citizen uses 3.7 tonnes of oil equivalent per year but this varies widely across countries, as shown in the table below.

Energy intensity is a measure of total energy consumption in relation to economic activity. Total energy consumption by fuel (see relevant core set indicator) is needed in addition for understanding the resulting pressures on the environment, since these pressures are very different for the various fuels and the use of renewable energy sources, with relatively low environmental pressures, in total energy consumption varies widely across EU countries. Therefore, comparing energy intensities across countries has to be put in the wider context of the fuel mix used in the production of the energy needs of a country.

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Cinzia Pastorello


EEA Management Plan

2010 (note: EEA internal system)


Filed under: ,


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