Energy efficiency improvement in Europe in 2018.
Global energy intensity (total energy consumption per unit of GDP) declined by 1.3% in 2018, slightly below its historical trend (-1.6%/year on average between 2000 and 2017).
Energy intensity levels and trends differ widely across world regions, reflecting differences in economic structure and energy efficiency achievements.
China’s energy intensity improved by almost 40% between 2000 and 2018, and 2.7% in the last year, driven by energy efficiency policies focused on energy-intensive industries.
Over time, China has developed and applied energy intensity reduction targets in response to significantly high energy-intense industries, bringing with it a strong demand for energy efficiency services.
Energy intensity in the United States increased in 2018 (+0.6%) compared to a decreasing trend (-1.9%/year) over the years 1990-2017.
Energy efficiency improvements continued in the European Union, the region with the lowest energy intensity in the world, with a higher rate (-3.1% in 2018) compared to the annual rate of reduction -1.8%/year measured over the 2000-2017 period. Contributing to this result, however, were the weather conditions (mild winter)
The energy intensity in the CIS region has decreased continuously since 2000 (-2.7%/year) but remains the highest in the world (75% above the worldwide average).
The high energy intensity in the CIS, the Middle East, China and other Asian developing countries is explained by the dominance of energy-intensive industries, commodity exporting-based economies and low energy prices that do not encourage energy efficiency.
According to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China energy intensity, which measures the amount of energy needed to generate one unit of GDP, decreased by 2.6% in 2019, which was lower than the Chinese government target of 3% cut. The country felt short of its energy efficiency goals in 2019 due to the fast growth in the economic sector of steel, building materials, non-ferrous metals, chemicals, and the services. However, the NDRC also announced that the country carbon intensity (the amount of carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP) decreased by 4.1% against a target of 3.6%.
Emissions under the South Korean emission trading scheme (ETS) have decreased by 2% in 2019 to 589 MtCO2, representing the first drop since the ETS entered into operations in 2015. Emissions have been driven down by the power sector (-8.6%) to 245 Mt due to temporary shutdowns of coal-fired power plants combined with a shift from coal to LNG. Conversely, emissions from the steel sector grew by 7.1% to 113 Mt fostered by higher production.
According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), US energy-related CO2 emissions decreased by 2.8% in 2019, to 5,130 MtCO2, i.e. 15% below their 2007 peak of 6,003 MtCO2 and offsetting a 2.9% surge in 2018 that was due to increased energy consumption (warmer weather spurred air conditioning demand). In 2019, energy-related emissions fell faster than energy consumption (-0.9%) and the CO2 intensity (CO2 emissions per unit of GDP) improved noticeably, in a context of economic growth (+2.3% of GDP). Most of the decrease in CO2 emissions occurred in the power sector (-8.2% in 2019, i.e. -145 MtCO2), as renewable power generation continued to rise and to reduce coal consumption: CO2 emissions from coal fell by 14.6%, while CO2 emissions from the use of natural gas increased by 3.3% (limited increase in gas-fired power generation).
According to the European Commission, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions covered by the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) declined by 8.7% in 2019. GHG emissions from stationary installations fell by 9% to 1.527 GtCO2eq, despite a growing EU economy (+1.5% of GDP). GHG emissions contracted by 15% in the power sector, in line with the substitution of coal-fired power generation with renewable and gas-fired generation, and they dipped by 2% in industry, including in energy-intensive branches such as iron and steel, cement, refineries and chemicals. Meanwhile, GHG emissions from aviation rose by 1% to to 68.14 GtCO2eq; the aviation sector benefited from 31.3 million free allowances, covering 46% of their emissions, while 54% had to be acquired from auctions or other sectors.