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Energy Snapshot of the Week

Energy consumption per capita and energy intensity for selected countries, 1990-2012

Energy intensity measures the amount of energy (Total Primary Energy Supply, or TPES, in tonnes of oil equivalent, or toe) a country needs to generate a unit of gross domestic product (GDP), while energy consumption per capita represents TPES divided by the population of the country. 

Energy intensity has decreased over the last 22 years for the vast majority of countries. The drop has been larger for China, Russia and India than for the United States (US), the European Union (EU) or Japan (masked by the EU on the graph). Several reasons explain this decline: faster growth of GDP than energy demand, the services sector having a growing share of the economy, energy efficiency programmes, etc.

But there are two opposite trends in terms of energy consumption per capita. For countries with a higher GDP/capita (US, EU, Japan), the indicator decreases (less industry, more services; energy efficiency gains). For China, India and other emerging economies, however, the growth in GDP/capita, electrification and similar development programmes have led to an increase in the energy consumption per capita. Placing the two indicators on the same graph reveals a possible convergence of all countries to a same zone.

The 2014 versions of the Energy Balances of OECD Countries and Energy Balances of Non-OECD Countries databases contain time series of energy data for more than 130 countries from 1971 to 2012. Statistics are available for supply and demand balances, trade, transformation and end-use consumption. The databases also provide statistics on oil, natural gas, coal, renewables and electricity as well as a series of key indicators.