Progress has been made on reducing energy consumption in the EU, according to a new progress report published by the European Commission on 18 November. Final energy consumption decreased by 7% between 2005 and 2013. Primary energy consumption decreased by 8 % in the same period and early estimates suggest a continuation of the decline in consumption in 2014.
Final energy consumption is the energy supplied to industry, transport, households, services and agriculture excluding deliveries to the energy transformation sector and the energy industries themselves. Primary energy consumption includes final energy consumption plus energy consumption in the energy transformation sector, generation and transformation losses and network losses.
In 2005 the EU consumed a total of 1186 Mtoe in final energy, dropping to 1102 Mtoe in 2012. However the level increased to 1105 Mtoe in 2013, mainly due to increases in energy consumption in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, Slovakia and the UK, the report says.
The largest cut in energy consumption was made in industry, where energy use was cut by 15% between 2005 and 2013. This was linked to the effects of the economic crisis, changes in the structure of industry and energy efficiency measures, the report detailed.
In the residential sector energy consumption decreased by 3% in 2013 compared to 2005, while in the transport sector a 6% reduction was made. In the services sector, final energy consumption increased by 6% from 2005 to 2013, but the economic output of this sector increased by 11 % over the same period of time which resulted in an improved energy intensity.
However, the report stated that EU countries will need to do more if the 20% energy efficiency target for 2020 is to be met. Currently, the sum of all national indicative targets set by all EU countries will add up to a saving of 17.6% in primary energy consumption, it said.
The report noted that Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia and Spain set more ambitious national targets for final energy consumption in their 2014 National Energy Efficiency Action Plans compared to 2013. Only Malta and Poland have set less ambitious final energy consumption targets, according to the progress report.
For primary energy consumption, Cyprus, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Malta, Spain and Sweden have set more ambitious indicative targets in their 2014 National Energy Efficiency Action Plans compared to their initial targets. Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovakia have reduced their level of ambition.
Finally, the report stated that the objective of energy efficiency is to break the link between a rise in energy consumption and a rise in economic growth due to efficiency gains. Given this, it said, “the level of the indicative targets set by Croatia, Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Romania are not ambitious enough as final energy consumption is projected to be higher than the forecast GDP development from 2014 to 2020.”
For primary energy consumption, Croatia, Finland, Greece and Romania have set indicative primary energy consumption targets for 2020 which would allow an increase of primary energy consumption, at a rate higher than their expected average GDP growth in 2014-2020.