Indicator 53. Rate of primary energy intensity improvement

Rationale and definition:

This indicator is used as the proxy for energy efficiency, one of the pillars of the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) framework. The indicator can be used to track the extent to which economic growth is decoupled from energy use – a key requirement for sustainable energy and decarbonization.

Energy efficiency is defined as the ratio between the gross consumption of energy and gross domestic product (GDP). Typically, the gross energy consumption is reported across five major sources of energy: solid fuels/biomass, oil, gas, nuclear, and renewable resources. The indicator is expressed as the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of energy intensity of GDP, measured in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms.1


By sector.

Comments and limitations:

Energy intensity is an imperfect proxy indicator because it is affected by external factors such as fluctuations in the volume and sectoral structure of GDP. However, there are statistical decomposition methods that allow these types of effects to be stripped out.2 Statisticians will need to specify whether the indicator is expressed as a moving average over multiple years or whether growth is reported year-on-year. Final energy intensity could be a better indicator because it is more comprehensive, but reporting is much more complex and ignores energy losses in transformation and delivery.

Preliminary assessment of current data availability by Friends of the Chair:


Primary data source:

Administrative data.

Potential lead agency or agencies:


  1. Sustainable Energy for All (2013). Global Tracking Framework Report.

  2. Sustainable Energy for All (2013). Global Tracking Framework Report.