Indicator Assessment

Total energy intensity - outlook from EEA

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-73-en
  Also known as: Outlook 049
Published 08 Jun 2007 Last modified 11 May 2021
11 min read
This page was archived on 12 Nov 2013 with reason: Content not regularly updated

Expected 11% increase in the primary energy consumption by 2030 is much lower than the GDP growth over the same period (71%). Thus, energy intensity (i.e. ratio between primary energy consumption and GDP) improves by 1.7 % per year up to 2030 after having seen an improvement of 1.4% per year during 1990 - 2005, including a period of rapid improvements in the 1990s (1.8% per year). There has been a slowing down of energy intensity improvements in the earlier years of this decade, following sluggish economic growth with lower capital turn-over towards energy efficient equipment. Energy intensity improvements are driven by structural change towards services and lighter industries as well as by efficiency improvements in all sectors.

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Energy Intensity - Gross Inland consumption per GDP, EU 27

Energy intensity gains in 1990-2030 are projected to reach 47%. It is expected, that the energy intensity (primary energy demand per unit of GDP) of the EU-27 energy system will improve at a rate of 1.7% per annum in 2000-2030 (compared to 1.4% pa in 1990-2000). Energy intensity will reach 107 toe per million Euro in 2030 from 203 in 1990. However, the pace of improvement is significantly different between the EU-15 and the NM12. Following a substantial improvement in energy intensity of 3.6% pa during the last decade, driven by the economic restructuring of Eastern Europe, energy intensity in NMS is projected to further improve at rates well above the EU-25 average over the projection period reaching 203 toe per million Euro in 2030 compared to 690 toe per million Euro in 1990. The energy intensity improvement in EU-15 is less pronounced with a decrease from 173 toe per million Euro in 1990 to 97 in 2030. Nevertheless, energy intensity for NM12 remains, even by 2030, more than twice that of the EU-15 (compared to 4 times higher in 1990 and 3 times higher in 2000).

Sector overview:
- The Baseline scenario projects a continuation of the decrease in energy intensity of industrial value added, by 1.4% per year on average during 2005-2030. This is driven by the use of more efficient technologies and by increased electrification of processes. It is also explained by projected changes in the composition of aggregate industrial value added reflecting a shift in favour of less energy intensive products.

- The fast turnover of capital in offices buildings during the period 1990 to 2005, marked by the massive construction of modern structures, enabled significant progress of energy efficiency in the services sector. As a matter of fact, the ratio of final energy per unit of useful energy, which is an indicator of energy conversion efficiency, decreased between 1990 and 2005 by 15% in total, which corresponds to a decrease rate of 1% per year. Energy per unit of value added also decreased over time as a result of total factor productivity improvement. The combined effect has resulted into a steady decrease of energy intensity (final energy per unit of value added) by 1.47% per year in the period 1990 to 2005. In the projection period to 2030, useful energy follows the evolution of services output at an output elasticity of 0.8 given the importance of energy for quality and productivity in the services sector. The ratio of final energy per unit of useful energy is found to decrease at an average yearly rate of 0.88%. The combined result of these two effects is a decrease of energy intensity in the services sector by 1.32% per year over the period 2005 to 2030.

- Energy intensity of agriculture has decreased substantially between 1990 and 2005 (1.5% per year), as a result of a restructuring of activities towards higher value added products and an increasing trend towards industrialisation of production, which involves optimisation of inputs to production at a larger scale. The Baseline scenario takes the view that further energy efficiency progress is possible in the future but at lower rates than in the past. Energy intensity is shown to decrease on average by 0.9% per year in the period 2005 to 2030, and energy consumption in agriculture is projected to grow by 0.3% per year, in contrast with the decrease of 0.7% per year experienced in the period 1990- 2005.

- The implied energy intensity improvement in the residential sector will reach -1.6% pa in 2005-2030 compared to -1.1% pa observed in the last decade (1990-2005). Among of the reasons is a fact that useful energy (utility) from the increasing use of electric appliances has increased twice as much as electricity consumption for appliances. The effects on electricity consumption are partly offset by the increasing number of new varieties of appliances used and by the larger size of the average appliance.

Supporting information

Indicator definition

Definition: Energy intensity is a ratio between the Total Energy Consumption and Gross Domestic Product calculated for a calendar year. Energy intensity can be provided as a list of energy intensity indicators: for industry, residential, tertiary and transport. The indicator can be presented measured in relative index where 1990th energy intensity level is measured as a point 100.

Model used: PRIMES

Ownership: European Environment Agency

Temporal coverage: 1990 - 2030

Geographical coverage: EU 15 : Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom; EU 12 : Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia


In absolute terms: toe/MEuro


Policy context and targets

Context description

Even though no target exists directly for total energy intensity, reducing energy intensity and increasing energy efficiency is a central objective for environmental integration in the energy sector. These aspects of improving energy efficiency are highlighted in a wide range of international policies.

Pan-European policy context

The recent pan-european policies concerning different aspects of energy efficiency, consumption and, therefore, intensity have been developed under different international fora. 

The Committee on Sustainable Energy seeks to reform energy prices and subsidies and ways how to carry out it to meet more sustainable energy production and consumption in the region (UNECE Guidelines).

Kiev Declaration "Environment for Europe" (2003) aims at supporting further efforts to promote energy efficiency to meet environmental objectives.

EU policy context

On 23 January 2008 the European Commission adopted the 'Climate Action and Renewable Energy' package. The Package sets a number of targets for EU member states with the ambition to achieve the goal of limiting the rise in global average temperature to 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times including: GHG reduction of 20% compared to 1990 by 2020. (under a satisfactory global climate agreement this could be scaled up to a 30% reduction); 20% reduction in energy consumption through improved energy efficiency, an increase in renewable energy's share to 20% and a 10% share for sustainably produced biofuels and other renewable fuels in transport. With these goals in mind, each Member State will by June 30th 2010 submit a National Renewable Energy Action Plan to the Commission.

EECCA policy context

EECA regions has a several number of declarations that do not have indicative and numeral targets and provide some issues relating to improvement of management and integration in energy sectors as well as their implementation into climate change policies. The main policy where this concepts are highlighted is EECCA Environmental Strategy.


No direct target exists for reducing total energy consumption intensity. However, several energy and environment targets are indirectly influenced by or directly influence changes in energy intensity, in particular:

Pan-European level:

  • To improve energy efficiency (Kiev Declaration)
  • Reforming energy prices and subsidies to achieve more sustainable energy consumption (UNECE Guidelines)

EU level

  • The directive on energy end-use efficiency and energy services (COM(2003) 739 final), which sets indicative targets for Member States to save 1 % per year of all energy supplied between compared with business-as-usual. The directive was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council on 14 March 2006.
  • The indicative target for final energy consumption intensity in the EU, set in the 1998 Communication 'Energy Efficiency in the European Community: Towards a Strategy for the Rational Use of Energy', COM(98) 246 final, of 1% per year improvement in the intensity of final energy consumption from 1998 'over and above that which would otherwise be attained'.
  • The EU and new Member States targets under the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The EU indicative Combined Heat and Power target set in the Community Strategy on cogeneration to promote Combined Heat and Power, COM(97) 514final, of an 18% share of CHP electricity production in total gross electricity production by 2010.
  • The EU Directive 2004/8/EC on the promoting of cogeneration based on a useful heat demand in the internal energy market. The purpose of this Directive is to increase energy efficiency and improve security of supply by creating a framework for promotion and development of high efficiency cogeneration of heat and power based on useful heat demand and primary energy savings in the internal energy market.

EECCA level

  • Improve integration of energy efficiency and environment into energy policies (EECCA Strategy)
  • Incorporate energy efficiency into climate change policies (EECCA Strategy)

Links to other policies

     EECCA Environmental Strategy

     UNECE Guidelines 

Related policy documents



Methodology for indicator calculation

The indicator of the Total energy intensity is produced using the PRIMES model. The model covers the horizon from 1990 to 2030 with 5 years periods. A fundamental assumption in PRIMES is that producers and consumers both respond to changes in prices.


Overview of the PRIMES Model

PRIMES is a partial equilibrium model for the European Union energy system developed by, and maintained at, The National Technical University of Athens, E3M-Laboratory. The most recent version of the model used in the calculations covers each of the EU Member States, EU candidate countries and Neighbouring countries, uses Eurostat as the main data source, and is updated with 2000 as the base year. The PRIMES model is the result of collaborative research under a series of projects supported by the Joule programme of the Directorate General for Research of the European Commission.

The model determines the equilibrium by finding the prices of each energy form such that the quantity producers find best to supply match the quantity consumers wish to use. The equilibrium is static (within each time period) but repeated in a time-forward path, under dynamic relationships. The model is behavioural but also represents in an explicit and detailed way the available energy demand and supply technologies and pollution abatement technologies. It reflects considerations about market economics, industry structure, energy/environmental policies and regulation. These are conceived so as to influence the market behaviour of energy system agents. The modular structure of PRIMES reflects a distribution of decision-making among agents that decide individually about their supply, demand, combined supply and demand, and prices. Then the market-integrating part of PRIMES simulates market clearing. PRIMES is a general purpose model. It conceived for forecasting, scenario construction and policy impact analysis. It covers a medium to long-term horizon. It is modular and allows either for a unified model use or for partial use of modules to support specific energy studies.

For more information see here.


Methodology for gap filling

No methodology for gap filling has been specified. Probably this info has been added together with indicator calculation.

Methodology references



Methodology uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Data sets uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Data sources

Other info

DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • Outlook 049
EEA Contact Info


Geographic coverage


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