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Total primary energy intensity (CSI 028/ENER 017) - Assessment published Sep 2010

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Generic metadata


Energy Energy (Primary topic)

gdp | soer2010 | energy consumption | csi | energy | energy intensity
DPSIR: Response
Typology: Performance indicator (Type B - Does it matter?)
Indicator codes
  • CSI 028
  • ENER 017
Temporal coverage:
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, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom

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

Key messages

Between 1990 and 2007, economic growth in Europe required increasing but less and less energy inputs. Total energy consumption increased until 2004 and stabilized all the way through 2006. In 2007 there was an absolute decoupling of economic growth and energy consumption, with the latter decreasing by 1.1% compared to 2006 while GDP continued to grow.  Over the period 1990-2007, GDP grew at an annual average rate of 2.2% and total energy consumption at an annual average rate of 0.5%. As a result, total energy intensity in the EU fell at an annual average rate of 1.7%.

Key assessment

  • Total energy consumption in the EU-27 grew at an average annual rate of 0.5 % over the period from 1990 to 2007, while Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in constant prices grew at an average annual rate of 2.2 % during the same period. As a result, total energy intensity in the EU-27 fell at an average rate of 1.7 % per year (see Figure 1). 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 (see ENER 19) as well as in some end-use sectors such as industry and services (see ENER 02) contributed to the reduced overall energy intensity. For trends on final energy consumption intensity by sector please see also ENER 21.
  • In 2007, for the first time an absolute decoupling appears to have taken place. The energy consumption in 2007 dropped by 1.1 % compared to 2006 while GDP continued to grow by 2.8%.  As a result, the total energy intensity dropped by 3.8 % in 2007 compared to 2006.

Specific policy question: What are the key differences among European countries as well as between European countries and other countries and regions in the world?

Total energy intensity 1995-2007 (index 1995=100), relative energy intensity (as PPS) and per capita consumption

Note: Total energy intensity 1995-2007 (index 1995=100), relative energy intensity (as PPS) and per capita consumption

Data source:

EEA, Eurostat, IEA, IMF, United Nations Statistics Division.

Eurostat. Gross inland energy consumption, Gross domestic product: Eurostat (historical data)

Eurostat. Supply, transformation, consumption - all products - annual data.

IEA. Total Primary Energy Supply non European countries: IEA 

UNSD (World Bank, World Development Indicators (WDI)). Gross Domestic product at 2000 market prices non European countries:

IMF. Gross Domestic product at current prices non European countries:    

Ameco: GDP growth rates used in the estimation of missing Eurostat data from European Commission. 

Downloads and more info

Specific assessment

  • There are significant differences in total energy intensity within the EU-27 Member States, with the highest values in Bulgaria, Estonia and Slovakia – due to the presence of large energy intensive industries like steel and cement industries and the lowest in Ireland, Italy and Denmark (when compared at Purchasing Power Standards) - partly explained by a relatively large services sector and small industry sector (see Table 1 and also ENER 16).  
  • Of all the EEA countries, Iceland is the only country that shows an increase of the energy intensity over 1995-2007. This is most likely caused by an increase of energy intensive industries on the island, like the aluminium industry. The other non- EU EEA countries show similar trends as the EU countries.
  • The average EU citizen uses 3.6 tonnes of oil equivalent per year but this varies widely across countries, as shown in the Table 1 below.

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

2009 2.9.1 (note: EEA internal system)


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