New energy efficiency improvement in the USA in 2019, after slight rise in 2018.
Global energy intensity (total energy consumption per unit of GDP) improved by 2.1% in 2019, i.e. faster than its historical trend (-1.6%/year on average between 2000 and 2018 and -1.2% in 2018). However, this improvement remains far from the 3.5%/year decrease required to achieve the 2°C scenario.
Energy intensity levels and trends differ widely across world regions, reflecting differences in economic structure and energy efficiency achievements.
China’s energy intensity reduction continued in 2019 (-2.8%, close to its historical trend): in 2019, its energy intensity stood 44% below its 2000 level, still 17% above the world average.
Since 2000, the USA and the EU have cut their energy intensity by more than 30% thanks to energy efficiency efforts, to changes in the power mix (higher share of renewables and gas) and to a lesser extent to a structural shift toward less energy-intensive industry branches and the growing share of services in the GDP. Energy intensity in the EU was 33% below the world average in 2019, with reductions accelerating in 2019 compared to historical trends.
The high energy intensity in the CIS, the Middle East, China and some developing Asian countries is explained by the dominance of energy-intensive industries, commodity exporting-based economies and low energy prices that do not encourage energy efficiency. In 2019, energy intensity decreased in Asia (especially in India, Japan and South Korea), in Canada and in Mexico. It stayed stable in Russia (+0.4%, almost no change since 2010), where it remains twice as high as the global average, and increased in most Middle East countries.
According to the European Union (EU) Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER), the amount of cross-border capacity available for trade among Member States remains insufficient to meet the minimum EU target of 70% by 2020. Cross-zonal capacity increased by 3% in 2019 compared to 2018 due to border-specific improvements (Poland-Czech Republic/Germany/Slovakia, Austrian borders, Greece-Italy, Bulgaria-Romania and Germany-Denmark). Moderate decreases, compared to 2018, were observed at the Swiss and Norwegian borders (-6%) and at a smaller scale in Italy North and Nordic regions (-2%). In addition, several Member States continue to use national capacity mechanisms, even if they do not always face an adequacy problem.
According to the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, global CO2 emissions from energy combustion increased by 0.9% to 38 GtCO2 in 2019, driven by China (+3.4%, accounting for 30% of global emissions) and India (+1.6%, 7% of global emissions). Meanwhile, Japan (3% of global emissions) reduced its energy-related CO2 emissions by 2.1%, the United States (13% of total emissions) by 2.6% and Russia (5% of total emissions) by 0.8%.
According to the European Commission, primary energy consumption declined by 0.7% in 2018 (-0.1% only for final energy consumption), which is insufficient to meet the 2020 targets. The highest annual reductions in primary energy consumption were posted in Belgium, Austria and Greece, whereas the largest increases were observed in Estonia, Latvia and Luxembourg. Between 2005 and 2018, primary energy consumption decreased in all Member States except Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia and Poland. Primary energy intensity fell in all Member States between 2005 and 2018; however, it grew in Denmark, Estonia and Luxemburg in recent years (between 2015 and 2018).
According to the Swiss government, final energy consumption in Switzerland slightly increased in 2019 (+0.3%) due to cooler temperatures, economic growth (+0.9%), demographic growth (+0.7%) and increasing fleet of motor vehicles (+0.8%). This rising trend was offset by continued energy efficiency and substitution effects.