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Total primary energy intensity (CSI 028/ENER 017) - Assessment published Apr 2012

Indicator Assessment Created 11 Apr 2012 Published 30 Apr 2012 Last modified 30 Apr 2012, 02:03 PM
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Generic metadata


Energy Energy (Primary topic)

gdp | soer2010 | energy consumption | energy | energy intensity
DPSIR: Response
Typology: Performance indicator (Type B - Does it matter?)
Indicator codes
  • CSI 028
  • ENER 017
Temporal coverage:
Geographic coverage:
Middle East, Earth, Africa, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States

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

Key messages

Total energy intensity decreased by 1.6% from 1990 to 2009 in the EU-27.   Since 2005 the intensity decrease more rapidly, by 2.2%/year on average.

In 2009, the global economic crisis led to a significant drop in total energy consumption (-5.5%) in the EU-27 with the GDP decreasing by 4.3%: this resulted in a 1.3% decrease in the total primary intensity

In non EU EEA countries the primary energy intensity has been on average quite stable over the period 1990-2009;  it however increased in the recent years, by 1.4%/year over 2005-2009 (+1.4%/year).

Key assessment

  • Total energy consumption in the EU-27 grew at an average annual rate of 0.1 % over the period from 1990 to 2009, while GDP in constant prices grew at an average annual rate of 1.8 %. As a result, total energy intensity in the EU-27 fell at an average rate of 1.6 % per year during the same period (see Figure 1). In 2009, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the EU-27 decreased by 4.3% because of the global economic crisis. In the same time, total energy consumption fell by 5.5%, in particular due to a significant decrease in the final energy consumption of the industrial sector (see ENER 21). It resulted in a 1.3% decrease in total primary energy intensity.
  • In 2009, the total primary energy intensity of the EU-27 was 27% below the 1990 level. About half of this reduction was observed between 1996 and 2000 (-12%, corresponding to -3.1%/year), period characterised by a strong economic growth (3.2%/year) and a rather flat energy consumption. On the other hand, the energy intensity only decreased on average by 0.1%/year over the period 2000-2003 with energy consumption increasing by 1.4%/year. From 2005 to 2009, the total primary energy consumption decreased by 1.7%/year while GDP increased only by 0.5%/year; as a consequence, the energy intensity decreased significantly during this period (-2.2%/year). During the 2009 crisis, the energy intensity decreased slightly by 1.3% with the economic slowdown -4.3%).
  • In non EU-EEA countries, the primary energy intensity mainly decreased during the period 2005-2009 by 1.4%/year, due to a growth in consumption by 3%/year and GDP by 1.6%/year.
  • 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 and a shift within the industrial sector from energy intensive industries towards higher value added less energy intensive industries

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

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

Data source:

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

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

IEA.Primary energy and GDP (mrd dollar) for not European countries. Website:


Downloads and more info

Specific assessment

  • In 2009, there were significant differences in primary energy intensity among the EU-27 Member States. The highest values were observed in Estonia, Finland and Bulgaria, due to the presence of energy intensive industries (e.g. pulp and paper in Finland) and the lowest values were observed in Malta, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Denmark and UK  - partly explained by a milder climate for southern countries (e.g. Malta, Italy, Spain, Greece and Portugal), and a larger share of the services sector and small industry sector (e.g. UK, Ireland or Denmark) (see Table 1 and also ENER 16).
  • In 2009, opposite trends were observed for twelve countries with an increasing trend in the energy intensity, by more than 4% in Turkey, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.
  • The non- EU EEA countries show rather similar trends as the EU countries. Since 2005 energy intensity increased by 0.4%/year in Norway, by 2.1%/year in Turkey but decreased in Switzerland (-0.7%/year).
  • Per capita gross primary energy consumption was 3.4 toe for EU-27 in 2009 and 3.2 toe in EEA countries (see Table 1). The lowest values are observed in Latvia, Romania and Turkey (less than 2 toe/capita in 2009.

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

2011 2.8.1 (note: EEA internal system)


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