Energy Availability, Production and Consumption


Driver description
Interactions with the Environment Domain
Interactions within the Social Domain
Interactions with the Economy Domain
Interactions with the Technology Domain
Impacts on Mobility and Transport

Driver description

  • “Energy is a basic need for production, heating, households and transportation.” (Ref: CO_5048)
  • “Energy trends, particularly with respect to the availability of different types of energy, have a considerable impact, not only on the transport sector but also on society as a whole.” (Ref: CO_5048)
  • “Worldwide demand for energy is growing at an alarming rate. The European “World Energy Technology and Climate Policy Outlook” (WETO) predicts an average growth rate of 1.8% per annum for the period 2000-2030 for primary energy worldwide.” (Ref: CO_0018)
  • “By 2030, projections suggest, world energy use will probably have increased by more than 50 per cent.” (Ref: CO_0091)
  • “[Worldwide] Coal has met almost half of the increase in global energy demand over the last decade. Whether this trend alters and how quickly is among the most important questions for the future of the global energy economy. Maintaining current policies would see coal use rise by a further 65% by 2035, overtaking oil as the largest fuel in the global energy mix.” (Ref: CO_0152)
  • “[In Europe] In absolute numbers, energy demand fell by 22 million tonnes of oil equivalent (TOE) between 2000 and 2009. Looking closer, energy demand increased by 77 million TOE from 2000 and 2008 and then sharply dropped by 99 million TOE to 2009. As consumption of fossil fuels, crude oil and nuclear energy fell, the rise in energy demand was met with an increase in natural gas and renewable energy consumption.” (Ref: CO_0197)
  • “2009 is the first year in the period that the EU used less energy than in 2000. This 1.2% decrease is likely due to the economic crisis.” (Ref: CO_0197)

Figure 1‑66 Gross inland energy consumption, by fuel, EU-27


Source: Sustainable development in the European Union (Ref: CO_0197)

  • “In comparison with the 1990s, small changes in the fuel mix have occurred since 2000. After plummeting from 27 % to 18.5 % in the previous decade, the share of solid fuels in total consumption fell to 15.7 % in 2009. The share of crude oil and petroleum products also decreased slightly from 38 % to 36.5 % between 2000 and 2009. Natural gas consumption, on the other hand, increased from 23 % to 24.5 %, and renewables consumption went up from 6 % to almost 9 % during the same period. Nuclear energy was the only energy source that experienced a trend reversal: after growing from 12 % to 14 % in the 1990s, consumption fell slightly to 13.5 % in 2009.” (Ref: CO_0197)
  • “Energy dependence shows how much an economy relies on imports to meet its domestic energy demand. Between 2000 and 2009, EU dependence on energy imports grew from 46.8 % to 53.9 %.” (Ref: CO_0197)
Figure 1‑67 Energy dependence, EU-27

Source: Sustainable development in the European Union (Ref: CO_0197)

  • “In 2009, 17 out of the 27 EU Member States showed dependence rates over 50 %. Dependence was close to 100 % in the small countries Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta. Eight Member States, mainly from northern and eastern Europe, had energy dependence levels well below 50 %. The lower import share reflects the larger availability of indigenous energy sources in these countries, ranging from coal (Poland, Czech Republic and Romania) to oil and gas (Denmark, UK and Netherlands) and renewable resources like biomass and hydro power (Sweden, Estonia).” (Ref: CO_0197)
  • “Differences among countries can be explained by a number of factors, including the carbon intensity of fossil fuel production (i.e. fossil fuel mix), the penetration of renewables, the existence of nuclear power for electricity generation, the efficiency in the transformation of primary energy into useful energy as well as the penetration of combined heat and power, the actual energy demand of end users, and energy efficiency improvements (and savings) linked to that demand.” (Ref: CO_0140)
  • “In 2009 dependence was highest for crude oil with an import share of 83.5 %, followed by natural gas (64 %) and hard coal (62 %).” (Ref: CO_0197)
Figure 1‑68 Energy dependence, by country, 2009

Source: Sustainable development in the European Union (Ref: CO_0197)

  • “Europe’s external context will also continue to be characterised by growing external energy dependency, especially in the field of fossil energy sources (oil, gas, coal), but also in that of nuclear energy sources (uranium).” (Ref: CO_1023)
  • “Two factors have the potential to bring about fundamental changes in energy production systems in the timescale up to 2050: energy resource scarcity and technological development.” (Ref: CO_5048)
  • “One of the objectives of the EU Sustainable Development Strategy is ‘reaching an overall saving of 9 % of final energy consumption[1] over nine years until 2017’ as set in the Directive on energy end-use efficiency and energy services. Furthermore, the Europe 2020 Strategy includes ‘moving towards a 20 % increase in energy efficiency’ by 2020 as one of its five headline targets.” (Ref: CO_0197)
  • “(...) in the forecasts from the International Energy Agency up to 2030 (...) nuclear energy maintains a constant share of energy production worldwide. Also the Commission's assessment of the energy future in EU notes that nuclear energy is being dismantled in some of the EU countries and presently the expansion plans are stalled in other countries. Therefore, the forecast for nuclear energy up to 2030 in EU is a slight decrease.” (Ref: CO_5048)
  • “Despite uncertainty over the prospects for short-term economic growth, demand for energy in the New Policies Scenario grows strongly, increasing by one-third from 2010 to 2035. The assumptions of a global population that increases by 1.7 billion people and 3.5% annual average growth in the global economy generate ever-higher demand for energy services and mobility. A lower rate of global GDP growth in the short-term than assumed in this Outlook would make only a marginal difference to longer-term trends.” (Ref: CO_0152)
  • “(...) the road transport energy paradigm can be split into three main parameters: Eroad transport = (vehicle fuel efficiency) x (vehicle travel) x (the vehicle population) where the vehicle fuel efficiency is determined by the technical energy efficiency; vehicle travel denotes the type of travel/driving and the number of miles driven; and the vehicle population is the number of vehicles on the road..” (Ref: CO_0247)
  • “Road transport represents the largest energy consumer, accounting for 73 % of total demand in 2009. It has also been the least affected by the downturn, falling by only 2.8 % between 2007 and 2009. Because the recent changes are so closely associated with the economic downturn, the long‑term trend is still expected to be an upward one; total transport energy consumption has increased by 32 % between 1990 and 2009.” (Ref: CO_5030)

[1]    The final energy consumption by sector expresses the sum of energy supplied to the final consumer’s door for all energy uses, broken down by consuming sector (transport, industry, households, services, agriculture, other).

Figure 1‑69 Transport energy consumption (EEA-30)

Source: Laying the foundations for greener transport.  TERM 2011: transport indicators tracking progress towards environmental targets in Europe (Ref: CO_5030)

Interactions within the Environment Domain

Climate change impacts

  • “(...) climate change is mentioned as one of the main threats to sustainable development, and energy use is explicitly linked to this by proposing limitation of climate change and increase in the use of clean energy together as a priority objective.” (Ref: CO_1027)
  • “Climate change is likely to be exacerbated by meeting the growing demand for energy. Over 75% of the global increase in energy use from 2007-2030 is expected to be met through fossil fuels, especially coal, and an estimated 77% of the power stations required to meet demand are yet to be built.” (Ref: CO_0024)
  • “Transport accounted for about 26% (IEA, 2009b) of all energy-related CO2 emissions in 2007 and is likely to account for a higher share in the future unless strong action is taken.” (Ref: CO_0153)

GHG mitigation

  • “The burning of fossil fuels (coal, lignite, oil and natural gas) is the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions, and the extraction of coal, oil and gas as well as leaks from gas pipelines are among the main sources of energy-related methane emissions. Therefore, most measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in some way target energy consumption and the fuel mix. One such measure is shifting from solid fuels, which are high-carbon sources of energy, to lower-carbon sources such as natural gas. This, however, has been one of the underlying causes of greater energy dependence in the EU.” (Ref: CO_0197)
  • “The greenhouse gas intensity of energy consumption[1] in the EU steadily decreased between 2000 and 2009, mainly due to the switch from solid fuels to gas and, to a lesser extent, renewable energies.” (Ref: CO_0197)
  • “Current trends in energy supply and use are unsustainable – economically, environmentally and socially. Without decisive action, energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will more than double by 2050 and increased oil demand will heighten concerns over the security of supplies.” (Ref: CO_5032)
  • “Analysis for the European Commission 2050 roadmap indicates a reduction of 70 % on present levels of oil consumption in transport will be needed by 2050 in order to achieve the long-term GHG reduction target.” (Ref: CO_5030)
  •  “Urban infrastructure – in particular energy (electricity and gas) networks, and water and sanitation systems – is critical in shaping the current and future trajectories of GHG emissions.” (Ref: CO_0147)

[1] The greenhouse gas intensity of energy consumption is the ratio between energy-related greenhouse gas emissions and gross inland energy consumption.

 Scarce resources of fossil fuels

  • “Electricity production accounts for 32% of total global fossil fuel use and around 41% of total energy related CO2 emissions. Improving the efficiency with which electricity is produced is therefore one of the most important ways of reducing the world’s dependence on fossil fuels, so helping both to combat climate change and improve energy security.” (Ref: CO_0183)
  • “Without a significant change in policies, global electricity generation will continue to be largely based on fossil fuels to 2050 and beyond.” (Ref: CO_0153)
  • “We can attain energy security only if we move from fossil fuels to fossil free alternatives.” (Ref: CO_0091)
  • “The age of fossil fuels is far from over, but their dominance declines. Demand for all fuels rises, but the share of fossil fuels in global primary energy consumption falls slightly from 81% in 2010 to 75% in 2035; natural gas is the only fossil fuel to increase its share in the global mix over the period to 2035.” (Ref: CO_0152)

Interactions with the Social Domain

Households structure and distribution

  • “Global energy use in the household sector increased between 1990 and 2005 by 19% to reach 82 EJ[1]. Households are the only major end-use sector where the increase in energy consumption since 1990 has been greater in OECD countries (+22%) than in non-OECD countries (+18%).” (Ref: CO_0183)
  • “The household sector includes those activities related to private dwellings. It covers all energy-using activities in apartments and houses, including space and water heating, cooling, lighting and the use of appliances. It does not include personal transport (...).” (Ref: CO_0183)
  • “Per capita CO2 emissions in OECD countries are on average more than five times higher than in non-OECD countries. This difference can be explained by a combination of lower per capita household energy use in non-OECD countries and a lower carbon intensity of the energy mix, due to a high share of renewable energy.” (Ref: CO_0183)

[1]    Exajoule


  • “The energy consumed to operate residential, commercial and public service buildings accounts for around 25-40% of final energy consumption in OECD countries.” (Ref: CO_5009)
  • “Yet affordable energy is an essential driver of the development engines of many cities.” (Ref: CO_0147)
  • “Cities uniquely concentrate energy demand and rely on energy sources beyond their boundaries.” (Ref: CO_0210)
  • “Water resource issues will (...) put pressure on peri-urban development, particularly in arid climates and/or areas vulnerable to flooding. Renewable energy sources such as biomass are often sited in peri-urban areas, and may start to influence the pattern of development.” (Ref: CO_0097)
  • “But cities have the potential to either dissipate the distribution of energy or optimise their efficiency by reducing energy consumption and adopting green energy systems including renewable micro-generation, district heating, and combined heat and energy plants.” (Ref: CO_0210)


  • “The energy infrastructure which will power citizens’ homes, industry and services in 2050, as well as the buildings which people will use, are being designed and built now. The pattern of energy production and use in 2050 is already being set.” (Ref: CO_0245)
  • “Higher energy prices and rising congestion require central and municipal planners to develop mass transit systems to cope with inner city and suburban traffic such as: bus rapid transit, urban trams and relatively cheap light railway systems, in addition to subways for larger, higher density metropolitan centres. Such systems lead to large gains in energy efficiency and reduced emissions as passengers transfer from private cars to public transport.” (Ref: CO_2024)


  • “The social dimension of the energy roadmap is important. The transition will affect employment and jobs, requiring education and training and a more vigorous social dialogue. In order to efficiently manage change, involvement of social partners at all levels will be necessary in line with just transition and decent work principles.” (Ref: CO_0245)

Interactions with the Economy Domain

GDP trends

  • “Secure, reliable and affordable energy supplies are fundamental to economic stability and development.” (Ref: CO_0153)
  • “Many macroeconomic projections of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions rely on historical data to estimate price and income elasticities for energy demand and then use projections of GDP and energy prices to generate energy and emissions projections.” (Ref: CO_0105)
  • "Achieving significant energy savings will require a stronger decoupling of economic growth and energy consumption as well as strengthened measures in all Member States and in all economic sectors.” (Ref: CO_0245)
  • “The economic downturn (...) implies in the short term less economic activity and consumption. This causes a reduction of energy consumption, but also a reduced investment and capital turnover which slows energy efficiency progress.” (Ref: CO_2028)

Regional differences in economics

  • “The dynamics of energy markets are increasingly determined by countries outside the OECD. Non-OECD countries account for 90% of population growth, 70% of the increase in economic output and 90% of energy demand growth over the period from 2010 to 2035.” (Ref: CO_0152)

Market regulations

  • “Significant restructuring of the energy system will require energy-sector reform, including: removal of subsidies to reflect the true cost of energy supply, internalization of the costs of externalities (such as local and regional air pollution) through markets, taxes, or subsidies; establishment of credible legal and regulatory frameworks that provide the stability on rules and prices that will induce investments into financially viable products.” (Ref: CO_2019)

Energy availability and prices

  • “The progressive depletion of the North Sea resources and the increase of oil and gas prices at world scale with the possibility of oil peaking will make the issue of Europe’s energy security a central pillar in its future foreign and security policy.” (Ref: CO_1023)

Intensified competition for scarce resources use

  • “The majority of Russia’s exports continue to go westwards to traditional markets in Europe, but a shift towards Asian markets gathers momentum. Russia gains greater diversity of export revenues as a result: the share of China in Russia’s total fossil-fuel export earnings rises from 2% in 2010 to 20% in 2035, while the share of the European Union falls from 61% to 48%.” (Ref: CO_0152)
  • “China’s emergence as a net coal importer in 2009 led to rising prices and new investment in exporting countries, including Australia, Indonesia, Russia and Mongolia.” (Ref: CO_0152)

Fiscal policy

  • “(...) taxes and subsidies on the use of energy or other resources can be used both to steer behaviour leading to reduced and more efficient consumption and to help restructure public finances away from labour taxation, which benefits job creation and economic growth.” (Ref: CO_0195)

Interactions with the Technology Domain

Information systems

  • “The information and communication technologies have an important role to play in improving the efficiency of major emitting sectors. These technologies offer potential for a structural shift to less resource-intensive products and services, for energy savings in buildings and electricity networks as well as for more efficient and less energy consuming intelligent transport systems.” (Ref: CO_0257)
  • “Innovation can play a major role in reducing energy consumption. Intelligent transport systems (ITS) for example call on information and communication technologies to smooth and speed up transport and services by road, rail, air and water.” (Ref: CO_0269)

Renewable energy production

  • “In 2050, the EU's total primary energy consumption could be about 30% below 2005 levels. More domestic energy resources would be used, in particular renewables. Imports of oil and gas would decline by half compared to today, reducing the negative impacts of potential oil and gas price shocks significantly.” (Ref: CO_0194)
  • “Between 2006 and 2008 the share of renewables in gross final energy consumption grew steadily. If growth were to be sustained at the rate observed over this short period, the EU would meet its 2020 target.” (Ref: CO_0197)

Figure 1‑70 Share of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption, by country (%)

Source: Sustainable development in the European Union (Ref: CO_0197)

  • “The analysis of all scenarios shows that the biggest share of energy supply technologies in 2050 comes from renewables. Thus, the second major prerequisite for a more sustainable and secure energy system is a higher share of renewable energy beyond 2020.” (Ref: CO_0245)
  • “Nuclear energy will be needed to provide a significant contribution in the energy transformation process in those Member States where it is pursued. It remains a key source of low carbon electricity generation.” (Ref: CO_0245)

Energy efficiency

  • “The most important contribution to reaching energy security and climate goals comes from the energy that we do not consume.” (Ref: CO_0152)

Impacts on Mobility and Transport

The energy factor has recently grown in importance in the transport sector…

  • “The transport sector has grown over recent years to become the largest energy-consuming sector in the EU27, accounting for around one third of final energy consumption in 2008 (EEA, 2010e).” (Ref: CO_0134)
  • “Between 1990 and 2007, annual transport energy consumption in the EEA member countries showed continual growth. However, this upward trend reversed in 2008 (with the economic recession likely to be the primary reason) and the most recent data for 2009 indicates an accelerating decline. Total energy demand in 2009 has fallen by over 4 % from its peak in 2007. Energy use for aviation, rail transport and domestic navigation also fell by 4.9 % to 5.6 %.” (Ref: CO_5030)

… but it is not easy to assess the intensity of the phenomenon

  • “While there was agreement that electricity will have a role in transport, opinions diverged on how large its potential is. Some see a broad scope, arguing that electricity is the way forward even if electricity production releases carbon, simply because electric engines are more efficient than internal combustion engines. This view was challenged on the grounds that the additional electricity produced for transport will come from carbon-intensive fuels until the extra demand is large enough to justify investments in other sources.” (Ref: CO_0284)

Adequate policies will help reversing the trend of increasing consumption

  • “Global energy use in the transport sector is forecast to increase on average by 1.6% annually up to 2030, unless significant policy action is taken (IEA, 2009a).” (Ref: CO_0247)
  • “The main factor driving increased passenger transport energy use is the level of underlying activity. Passenger travel in the IEA18[1], as measured by passenger kilometres, increased by 30% between 1990 and 2005. Passenger air transport increased most quickly, followed by car travel.” (Ref: CO_0183)

[1] IEA18 member countries are: Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States

However the role of energy efficiency in securing energy will play a major role

  • “There will be a broad range of possibilities for future transport energy provision and it is clear that the private economic cost of transport fuels will be far higher than those of today, whatever mix of sources, carriers, and conversion systems there may be in the future. Therefore, the role of efficiency becomes critical, not only in terms of environment, but also in terms of the affordability of mobility.” (Ref: CO_0017)

Many improvements are expected in railway stock

  • “Railway services, including urban rail systems, run mainly on electricity, which will remain the major source of power for railways. Further electrification of rail tracks wherever feasible will contribute to CO2 emission reduction as will the use of sustainable fuels for energy. Power generation is on a path of decarbonisation through the ‘Emission Trading System’ and renewable energy targets also apply to railway services.” (Ref: CO_0234)
  • “Reducing the energy used in rail travel will depend on the introduction of more efficient rolling stock, modernizing infrastructure and optimizing operations.” (Ref: CO_0248)
  • “Most urban rail systems are powered by electricity. Electric motors are very efficient, so improving them will be challenging. As urban rail rolling stock is frequently accelerating and decelerating, reducing its weight is one of the most important ways of improving efficiency. Using regenerative breaking devices will also help reduce energy needs.” (Ref: CO_0248)