South Central Power | South Central Power

The world turns more energy efficient

September 30, 2016

Efficiency trends are expected to continue for decades.

People aren’t just talking about energy efficiency. It’s actually happening across the globe – and there is a way to measure it.

It’s called energy intensity, and it is calculated by comparing energy consumption to the measure of a country’s economic production—its Gross Domestic Product. In other words, energy intensity measures how much energy it takes to produce a dollar of economic activity.

world-energy-intensity-400In the past 25 years, energy intensity worldwide has dropped by one-third, says the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA). There can be a lot of reasons for a decline in energy intensity: more efficient lighting options, energy use habits, standards for vehicle fuel economy and building codes, and economies based more on services and less on industrial production.

“Energy intensity has decreased in nearly all regions of the world,” says EIA, “with reductions in energy intensity occurring both in the more developed economies … and in the emerging nations.”

EIA predicts energy efficiency will continue to improve.

The agency’s International Energy Outlook 2016 forecasts that over the next 28 years studied in the report, world energy intensity will decline almost 2 percent a year, from 5.8 thousand British Thermal Units of energy for each dollar of Gross Domestic Product in 2012, to 3.5 by 2040.

According to EIA, more economically developed countries tend to have lower energy intensities because they “have transitioned from relying on energy-intensive manufacturing to using more services-based economic activities which are less energy intensive.”

EIA says that in 2015, developed economies used 12 percent less energy per dollar than developing countries.