Mapping global energy intensity: Opportunities will arise from the development of energy efficient technologies

Amid concerns about energy security and environmental pollution, countries are changing consumption habits and economic growth patterns to reduce energy intensity.

For emerging economies in Asia Pacific, the issue is particularly acute as their export-oriented manufacturing industries are highly energy-intensive and dependent on imported oil and gas.

Global energy intensity: 2009
US$ per tonne of energy consumed

Source: Euromonitor International from national statisticsNote: Energy intensity indicates the value of GDP produced per tonne of oil equivalent of energy consumed.

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  • Energy intensity, measured by the value of GDP produced per tonne of oil equivalent of energy consumed, indicates the energy efficiency of a nation’s economy. Energy intensity can vary significantly across regions and depending on stages of economic development;
  • Developed economies in Western Europe tend to be highly energy efficient as they use less energy to produce higher economic output. This is thanks to higher energy efficiency standards as well as the deployment of energy efficient technologies in Western Europe. In 2009, Denmark led the world in energy efficiency as the country generated US$17,761 worth of GDP per tonne of oil equivalent of energy consumed;
  • Developing countries, on the other hand, tend to achieve lower output with the energy they consume as many of these countries, especially the emerging economies of Asia Pacific, rely on energy-intensive manufacturing industries to drive exports and economic growth. China, for example, generated US$2,261 of GDP per tonne of oil equivalent of energy consumed in 2009, compared with US$2,161 in 2008;
  • In addition, a number of Eastern European countries and the former Soviet republics are also highly energy intensive, partly because oil and gas in some of these countries are artificially low priced thanks to government subsidies, and partly because these countries suffer from harsh weather conditions (e.g. Russia). In 2009, Ukraine generated US$903 of GDP per tonne of oil equivalent of energy consumed whilst Turkmenistan generated US$587 and Uzbekistan only US$570;
  • In an effort to reduce energy intensity, and to enhance energy security as well as the competitiveness of the economy, many governments actively promote energy efficiency through a range of measures such as new legislations, research funding, and grants to businesses for upgrades to more efficient equipment. Companies (as well as households) can make use of such grants and subsidies to improve energy efficiency, which does not only cut costs in the long run (through future energy savings) but also helps insulate themselves from future energy price shocks. Meanwhile, many investment, business and job opportunities will arise from the development and deployment of energy efficient technologies.