Progress on energy efficiency in Europe

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-352-en
Also known as: ENER 037
Created 21 Jan 2019 Published 20 Feb 2019 Last modified 20 Feb 2019
30 min read
Topics: ,
Over the period 1990-2016, the energy efficiency of end-use sectors improved by 30 % in the EU-28 countries at an annual average rate of 1.4 %/year. These improvements were driven by improvements in the industry sector (1.8 %/year) and the households sector (1.6 %/year). However, half of the efficiency gains achieved through technological innovation in the household sector were offset by the increasing number of electrical appliances and by larger homes. The rates of improvement were lower in the transport sector (0.9 %/year) and services sector (1.1 %/year).

Key messages

Over the period 1990-2016, the energy efficiency of end-use sectors improved by 30 % in the EU-28 countries at an annual average rate of 1.4 %/year.

These improvements were driven by improvements in the industry sector (1.8 %/year) and the households sector (1.6 %/year). However, half of the efficiency gains achieved through technological innovation in the household sector were offset by the increasing number of electrical appliances and by larger homes.

The rates of improvement were lower in the transport sector (0.9 %/year) and services sector (1.1 %/year).

Is final energy consumption in Europe becoming more efficient?

Energy efficiency index (ODEX) for final consumers in the EU

EU-28
Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Table
Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Energy consumption by end use per dwelling, 2016

Chart
Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Table
Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Heating energy consumption in the EU as a whole

Chart
Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Table
Data sources: Explore chart interactively

The effect of building codes in the EU

Chart
Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Table
Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Cooling energy consumption

Chart
Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Table
Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Energy consumption of electrical appliances

Chart
Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Table
Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Drivers of change in annual average energy consumption per household

Chart
Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Table
Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Primary energy consumption of new residential buildings

Chart
Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Table
Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Energy efficiency improvements for final consumers

  • Between 1990 and 2016, the energy efficiency of end-use sectors improved by 30 % in the EU-28, at an annual average rate of 1.4 %/year, as measured according to the ODEX indicator[1] (Figure 1). All sectors contributed to this improvement, with the largest gains registered in the industry sector (1.8 %/year) and the households sector (1.6 %/year). From 2005 to 2016, energy efficiency improved at the same yearly rate of nearly 1.2 %/year.
  • Energy efficiency in industry has increased by 38 % in the EU-28 over the period 1990-2016, at an annual average rate of 1.8 %/year. Greater progress was achieved in the 1990s (2.6 %/year over the period 1990-2000). Since 2005, there has been a net slowdown in energy efficiency improvement in industry[2] (1.2 %/year), against 2.2 %/year from 1990 to 2005. Improvements took place in all industrial branches, however, improvements have been lower in most energy intensive branches[3]. The specific energy consumption, i.e. energy consumption per unit of physical output, has been reduced by 27 % for steel and by 14 % for paper and cement since 1990. However, for chemicals, the reduction has been much larger (50 % since 1995)[4].
  • Energy efficiency in the households sector increased by 35 % between 1990 and 2016 at an average rate of 1.6 %/year. Most of the progress in this sector was because of energy efficiency improvements for space heating (more efficient new buildings and heating appliances, as well as renovation of existing dwellings), which registered an improvement of 1.8 %/year, and the diffusion of more efficient large electrical appliances (1.7 %/year). Since 2005, energy efficiency improved at a faster pace, by 2.4 %/year. The figure was 1.4 %/year from 1990 to 2005. This was the result of the various EU directives (especially Ecodesign in 2005 and 2009, the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive in 2002 and 2010, the Effort Sharing Decision in 2006 and the Energy Efficiency Directive in 2012) and different national initiatives.
  • In the transport sector, energy efficiency increased by 20 % between 1990 and 2016 in the EU as a whole, at an annual average rate of 0.9 %/year. Most of this progress is because of the increased efficiency of aeroplanes[5]  (2.2 %/year) and cars[6] (0.7 %/year). For trucks and light vehicles, energy efficiency improvements are more limited (0.5 %/year). Details for the transport sector can be found in the TERM Indicator on final energy consumption by mode of transport.
  • In the services sector, energy efficiency improvements reached 26 % in 2016 compared with 1990, or 1.1 %/year. The lower gains observed in this sector are mainly because of the increasing electricity consumption per employee until 2005 (+1 %/year), which was mainly because of the large diffusion of information and communication technologies and other office equipment and, in southern countries, an increased use of air cooling (AC). During recent years, this increasing trend has slowed (+0.3 %/year from 2005 to 2016 at EU level) or reversed in some countries, with the diffusion of more efficient equipment. For fossil fuels only, the energy consumption per employee is, however, decreasing rapidly (-1.7 %/year on average from 1990 to 2005 and -1.1 %/year since 2005[1]), because of more efficient buildings. Space heating represents the majority of the use of fossil fuels (around 85 %).

[1] The energy efficiency index, called ODEX, is calculated by sector by weighting the trends observed in the various indicators of specific energy consumption by sub-sector or end-use with their share in the sector’s energy consumption. ODEX represents a better proxy for assessing energy efficiency trends by sector (industry, transport, households and tertiary) and for all final consumers than the usual monetary indicators.

[2] During the economic crisis, factories and industrial equipment did not operate at full capacity and had a lower efficiency.

[3] The four most energy intensive branches (chemicals, steel, cement and paper) represented around 55 % of industrial energy consumption in 2016.

[4] For chemicals, consumption is related to the industrial production index, which is a proxy of the variation in the physical production.

[5] Following Eurostat accounting, international air transport is included in the transport sector.

[6] For cars, energy efficiency is measured by the energy consumption per unit of traffic (e.g passenger-kilometer). For air, the indicator is the energy consumption per passenger.

[7] At normal climate

 

Is energy consumption in buildings decreasing in the EU?

  • In 2016, final energy consumption reached 1 108 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) in the EU-28. Buildings (households and services) consumed about 40 % of this final energy (26 % for households and 14 % for services)[1]. In 2016, the energy consumption of buildings was 13 % above its 1990 value.
  • The total floor area of buildings represented about 26 billion square meters in the EU in 2016. The household sector represented about 76 % of total floor area.
  • At the EU level, the average annual specific energy consumption per square metre for all types of building was around 215 kWh/m2 in 2016[2]. Non-residential buildings are, on average, 70 % more energy intensive than residential buildings (300 kWh/m2 compared with 178 kWh/m2).

 Energy efficiency improvement for households

  • The average energy consumption of households per dwelling reached 1.4 toe/dwelling in 2016 (or 178 kWh/m2) (at normal climate). There are large discrepancies among countries in the level of consumption per dwelling, from less than 0.9 toe/dwelling in Malta, Portugal, Bulgaria and Spain to around 1.8 toe/dwelling in Belgium, Finland, Norway and Luxemburg (Figure 2). These differences are explained mainly by different climatic conditions.
  • Space heating represents a decreasing share of household energy consumption; 67 % in 2016, compared with 69% in 2005 and 72 % in 1990. Electrical appliances and water heating represent around 15 % and 13 % respectively (against 8 % and 13 % in 1990). Cooking stands at 5 % and lighting at 1.6 %. Air Cooling only represents 0.4 % of household energy consumption but 2.8 % of the specific electricity from households[3] (0.7 % in 1990).
  • Space heating energy consumption decreased at an average rate of 0.8 %/year between 2005 and 2016, whereas it was increasing slightly before that (+0.3 %/year from 1990 to 2005[4]). As a result, in 2016, space heating consumption was only 4 % below its 1990 level. The total floor area of dwellings has increased by 1.3 %/year, much more than the number of dwelling (+0.9 %/year). As a result, the space heating consumption per m2 has decreased more rapidly than space heating consumption per dwelling (respectively by 1.2 %/year and 1 %/year since 1990) reaching 118 kWh/m2 in 2016[5] (Figure 3); the difference is due to a slight increase in the average size of dwellings (+0.2 %/year). Significant disparities exist among EU countries, from less than 80 kWh/m2 in southern countries with lower heating needs (Spain, Bulgaria, Greece, Malta and Portugal) to more than 160 kWh/m2 in colder countries such as Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Luxemburg, Poland and Czechia[6].
  • Energy efficiency improvements in space heating occurred as a result of the better thermal performance of new buildings encouraged by mandatory efficiency standards, an increase in condensing boilers and heat pumps, and thermal retrofitting of existing dwellings. Standards for new buildings contributed to reducing the average unit consumption of the dwelling stock for the EU as a whole by 0.7 %/year on average between 1990 and 2016, which represents about 2/3 of the total savings for household space heating (Figure 4).
  • Energy consumption of households for AC increased by around 8 %/year on average at EU level since 1990 (+4.1 %/year since 2005). The diffusion of AC equipment is progressing, but the EU average is still marginal (0.8 % in 1990, 1.5 % in 2005 and 2.9 % in 2016). In particular, it has increased in southern countries where more than 80 % of dwellings are equipped in Cyprus and Greece, 60 % in Malta and Spain, and around 35% in Bulgaria, Croatia and Italy. Because of sales of more efficient air conditioning equipment in Europe[7], the specific consumption per m2 with AC has decreased since 2002 at EU level (Figure 5).
  • The specific consumption per dwelling from electrical appliances increased on average by 1.2 %/year over the period 1990-2016. The increasing amount of equipment in households (including multiple IT equipment) has been partly offset by the diffusion of more efficient and newer equipment, mainly large appliances[8], as a result of EU Directives on mandatory labelling for the main large appliances and Eco design standards[9]. The specific electricity consumption per dwelling for all large appliances has decreased by 1 %/year since 1990, and even more since 2005 (-1.6 %/year), of which around 1.8 %/year since 1990 for refrigerators and washing machines (Figure 6). On the other hand, the average specific consumption per dwelling for all small appliances has increased by 3.6 %/year, although there has been a slowdown since 2005 (+2.2 %/year). The number of TVs has almost doubled in the EU, with around 1.9 TVs per household in 2016. After having increased in the early 2000s, the specific consumption of TV has decreased since 2011 mainly because of the diffusion of efficient equipment. Today’s high-definition equipment, such as LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) and plasma flat-screen models, consume less energy but are also larger. Screen size is directly related to the average active mode power consumption of a television: the larger the screen, the greater the power consumption.
  • Lighting consumption per dwelling has decreased by 1.2 %/year since 1990, because of the deployment of efficient lighting equipment.
  • Figure 7 presents energy consumption per dwelling for the EU as a whole, which decreased by 0.8 %/year between 1990 and 2016. This was the result of two opposing factors. On the one hand, lifestyles, i.e. more appliances per dwelling and larger homes contributed to raising household consumption per dwelling by 1.2 %/year between 1990 and 2016. On the other hand, energy efficiency improvements[10] in the various end-uses, contributed to decreasing this household consumption per dwelling by 1.6 %/year over the same period.
  • Ambitious requirements for energy performance in buildings have been introduced in EU countries to encourage the renovation of buildings to meet nearly-zero energy buildings (nZEB) levels. In addition, by 2020 all new buildings in the EU should be nZEB according to the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). The required decrease in energy consumption of 'low energy buildings' will range from 30 to 50 % of what is presently required for new buildings under  existing regulations. Figure 8 illustrates the primary energy consumption per m2 for nZEB (new buildings). There is no single and harmonised definition of nZEB across Europe: different nZEB approaches and criteria are used in EU countries and the number of end-uses included varies also[11], which doesn’t allow a fair comparison in countries to be made. For most countries, nZEB new buildings are expected to consume less than 50 kWhm2/year). For some other countries, primary energy consumption is much higher: this is the case, for instance, of Latvia, Cyprus, Romania and Austria.

 Energy efficiency improvements in the service sector

  • Space heating represented around 46 % of energy consumption in the service sector in 2016. This share is decreasing rapidly with the improvement of the energy performance of buildings (63 % in 1990, against 51 % in 2005). Energy used for information and communication technologies, and electrical appliances and lighting arrived in second position with a share of 39 % in 2016. Cooking and water heating have a minor role and represent respectively 6 % and 5 % of this consumption. AC only represented 5 % of energy consumption in the service sector (3 % in 1990).
  • Energy consumption per employee (measured at normal climate) was rather stable until 2005 at EU level but has tended to decrease since 2005 (-0.4 %/year between 2005 and 2016). For electricity, the consumption per employee has increased rapidly in almost all EU countries, mainly over the period 1990-2005 (+1.8 %/year). The EU average reached 5100 kWh/employee in 2016. Since 2005, this growth has been much slower (0.3 %/year). Most EU countries have a specific consumption between 5 000 and 7 000 kWh per employee.

[1] Transport 33 %, industry 25 % and agriculture 2 %

[2] All fuels included.

[3] Specific electricity from households represents the electricity consumption for electrical appliances and lighting.

[4] At normal climate.

[5] At normal climate.

[6] According to the ODYSSEE definition, the floor area corresponds to the average dwelling size. However, in some countries the consumption in heated common areas in multi-family buildings is included in the heating consumption of households, which overestimates the indicator (e.g. by 20 % in Finland).

[7] Latest information freely available: the share of the most efficient new air conditioners (A++, A+++) has increased significantly across Europe from 11 % in 2011 to 27 % in 2014 driven by the Energy Label for AC applied since January 2013 (Source GFK from topten.eu).

[8] Large appliances mean refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, dishwashers and dryers.

[9] Latest information freely available: the share of the most efficient appliances (A+, A++ and A+++) has increased significantly: from 9 % in 2005 to 98 % in 2015 for refrigerators (of which 30 % of A++/A+++ in 2015) and from 18 % to 97 % for washing machines (of which 55 % of A+++ in 2015) (source GFK from topten.eu). (https://www.ademe.fr/sites/default/files/assets/documents/market-monitoring-2016-report.pdf)

[10] Energy efficiency is based on ODEX.

[11] In France, for instance, it includes 5 end-uses: space heating, water heating, AC, ventilation and lighting.

Indicator specification and metadata

Indicator definition

The ODEX index measures progress in energy efficiency by major sector (industry, transport, households and services), as well as for all final consumers.

For each sector, the index is calculated as a weighted average of sub-sectoral indices of progress in energy efficiency, observed over a given period. Sub-sectors refer to industrial or service sector branches or end-uses for households or transport modes. The sub-sectoral indices are calculated from variations of unit energy consumption indicators, measured in physical units (for instance tons of steel, tonne-km for transport of goods, kWh/appliance, m² for offices, etc.). ODEX provides a better 'proxy' of energy efficiency progress from a policy evaluation viewpoint than the more commonly used monetary indicators.

Units

The ODEX index (Fig.1), energy consumption for space heating and cooling (Fig. 3 and 5) and the energy consumption of electrical appliances (Fig.6) are represented in percentage change compared with 1990 levels. For the calculation of percentage change in energy consumption for space heating per square metre (sqm) by households (climate corrected) the unit is the kWh/m2; and energy consumption for space cooling is represented both in kWh/sqm of average floor area and kWh/sqm of air conditioned space. Improvements in energy consumption by end use per dwelling (Fig.2) are expressed in toe/dwelling. The effects of the main drivers influencing progress in energy efficiency (Fig.3) and the effect of building codes (Fig. 4) are expressed in percentage change per year.


Policy context and targets

Context description

Energy Efficiency Directive (EED)

The EED was approved by the European Parliament on 11 September 2012. It includes a set of new measures to meet the EU’s 2020 energy efficiency target to reduce EU primary energy consumption by 20 %. Related documents are available at: http://ec.europa.eu/energy/efficiency/eed/eed_en.htm. The legal definition and quantification of the EU energy efficiency target is the 'Union's 2020 energy consumption of no more than 1 474 Mtoe primary energy or no more than 1 078 Mtoe of final energy'. With the accession of Croatia, the target was revised to '1 483 Mtoe primary energy or no more than 1 086 Mtoe of final energy'. Under Article 3 of the EED, each Member State had to submit a report to the Commission including an indicative national energy efficiency target for 2020 (http://ec.europa.eu/energy/efficiency/eed/reporting_en.htm).

National Energy efficiency Action Plan (NEEAP)

NEEAPs are intended to set energy savings targets and propose concrete measures and actions that would contribute to meeting the targets. They are submitted every 3 years: the third NEEAPs were submitted in April 2014.

Regulation on emissions for new cars (2009/443) and new light commercial vehicles (2011/510)

Mandatory CO2 standards for new passenger cars were introduced in 2009. The 2009 regulation set a 2015 target of 130 g/km for the fleet average of all manufacturers combined.

Individual manufacturers were allowed a higher CO2 emission value depending on the average vehicle weight of their fleet. The heavier the average weight of the cars sold by a manufacturer, the higher the CO2 level allowed. A similar CO2 standard for new light-commercial vehicles was introduced in 2011. It set a target of 175 g/km for 2017. In July 2012, the European Commission put forward two regulatory proposals to set mandatory CO2 standards for new cars and vans in 2020. Target values of 95 g/km of CO2 for the new car fleet and 147 g/km of CO2 for vans for 2020 have been set.

Energy Performance of Buildings Directive: recast version in 2010 (2010/31/EU) EPBD, 2002/91/EC

The Directive on Energy Performance in Buildings (EPBD) is the main legislative instrument affecting energy use and efficiency in the building sector in the EU. The Directive tackles both new build and existing housing stock. Originally approved in 2002, this Directive is now being replaced by a recast Directive that was approved on 19 May 2010.

Energy Labelling Directive: recast version in 2010 (2010/30/EC) Directive 92/75/EEC

The Energy Labelling Directive 2010/30/EU is a framework Directive that facilitates the labelling of products so that the power consumption of one make and model can be compared to another, allowing consumers to make informed purchasing decisions.

Ecodesign Directive: recast version in 2009 (2009/125/EC)/(2005/32/EC)

The Ecodesign Directive sets a framework for performance criteria for energy-using and energy-related products, which manufacturers must meet in order to legally bring their product to the market. Minimum requirements have to be fulfilled by appliances to get the European Commission label and to be introduced in the European market.

The first Directive was adopted in 2005. Its scope was expanded in 2009 to all energy-related products. From September 2015, the Ecodesign Directive will concern heating equipment and the production of hot water, defining new levels of performance and features to meet new energy labels.

Energy Services Directive: (ESD) 2006/32/EC

This directive sets out targets for annual energy savings of 1 % per year for each Member State between 2008 and 2012. For the same period, strong incentives were given to Member States by the directive to ensure that suppliers of energy offer a certain level of energy service.

A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050 (COM(2011) 112 final)

The Roadmap presents actions in line with the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95 % by 2050.

Energy 2020, A strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy COM(2010) 639 final

The Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions prioritises four types of action for an energy-efficient Europe:

  • Action 1: Tapping into the biggest energy-saving potential — buildings and transport.
  • Action 2: Reinforcing industrial competitiveness by making industry more efficient.
  • Action 3: Reinforcing efficiency in energy supply.
  • Action 4: Making the most of National Energy Efficiency Action Plans.

 

Adoption of the 'energy-climate'' package on December 2008 (also called the '20-20-20 plan)

This package sets legally binding targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 20 % below 1990 levels and to increase the share of renewable energy to 20 %, both by 2020 (10 % in transport). It will also help achieve the EU's objective of improving energy efficiency by 20 % within the same time frame.

The climate and energy package consists of four legislative texts:

-        A directive revising the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), which covers some 40 % of EU greenhouse gas emissions;

-        An Effort Sharing Decision setting binding national targets for emissions from sectors not covered by the EU ETS;

-        A directive setting binding national targets for increasing the share of renewable energy in the energy mix; and

-        A directive creating a legal framework for the safe and environmentally sound use of carbon capture and storage technologies.

Energy efficiency: delivering the 20 % target - COM(2008) 772 final

European leaders committed themselves to reducing primary energy consumption by 20 % compared with projections for 2020. Energy efficiency is the most cost-effective way of reducing energy consumption while maintaining an equivalent level of economic activity. Improving energy efficiency also addresses the key energy challenges of climate change, energy security and competitiveness.

Targets

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. 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. However, this indicator does not monitor progress at EU level towards the energy efficiency target (different methodologies may be applied for this purpose particularly if the emphasis is on energy savings), but it does provide an indication of progress to date in achieving energy efficiency (in this context energy efficiency means mainly improvements in technological performance).

Related policy documents

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

  • Figure 1: Energy efficiency index

The ODEX index (Fig.1) measures progress in energy efficiency by major sector (industry, transport, households and services), as well as for all final consumers.

For each sector, the index is calculated as a weighted average of sub-sectoral indices of progress in energy efficiency observed over a given period. Sub-sectors refer to industrial or service sector branches or end-uses for households or transport modes. The sub-sectoral indices are calculated from variations of unit energy consumption indicators, measured in physical units (for instance tons of steel, tonne-km for transport of goods, kWh/appliance, m² for offices, etc.). ODEX provides a better 'proxy' of progress in energy efficiency from a policy evaluation viewpoint, than the more commonly used monetary indicators.

Methodology for gap filling

To calculate the ODEX (Figure 1), data submitted to the ODYSSEE project by countries on a voluntary basis are used. Not all countries submit the necessary data. Therefore, for the EU-28, data extrapolations based as far as possible on Eurostat supporting data (e.g. growth rates, shares of various energy forms in final energy consumption, etc.) are used. In this way, some consistency between the top-down calculations and the bottom-up calculations made for specific countries is ensured (also country data make use of Eurostat where possible).

To calculate the effect of new building codes (Figure 2), the theoretical unit consumption of new dwellings for the EU as a whole is based on an extrapolation from 11 representative countries (Italy, France, Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Poland, Czechia, Hungary and Slovakia). The theoretical consumption for new dwellings by country is weighted according to annual construction, so results can be produced at EU level.

Methodology references

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

Indicators used in the ODYSSEE database are comparable over time and space.

The ODYSSEE database contains data on energy consumption and its drivers provided by energy agencies or their representatives in all EU countries. Quality control checks are performed to ensure the quality of the database and improve transparency, consistency, comparability, completeness and accuracy of data retrieved in the ODYSSEE database. Examples of quality control checks include: checking for transcription errors in data inputs, checking of source reliability, checking inner consistency of data (e.g. sum of energy consumption by end-use in the household sector is coherent with total residential consumption), consistency with other sources (e.g Eurostat) and checking that indicators are calculated correctly (though graphical representation over years to check discrepancies between countries or outliers).

Data sets uncertainty

The ODYSSEE database contains data on energy consumption and its drivers, which are provided by energy agencies or their representatives in all EU countries and Norway. Quality control checks are performed to ensure the quality of the database and to improve the transparency, consistency, comparability, completeness and accuracy of data retrieved from the ODYSSEE database. Examples of general quality checks include checking for transcription errors in data inputs, checking source reliability, checking the inner consistency of data (e.g. the sum of energy consumption by residential end-use is coherent with total residential consumption), consistency with other sources (e.g Eurostat) and checking that indicators are calculated correctly (through graphical representation over years to check discrepancies between countries or outliers).

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Data sources

Metadata

Topics:

information.png Tags:
, , , ,
DPSIR: Response
Typology: Efficiency indicator (Type C - Are we improving?)
Indicator codes
  • ENER 037
Temporal coverage:
,

Dates

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year

EEA Contact Info

Stephanie Schilling
Document Actions