Energy Efficiency

What happened to global energy efficiency between 2010 and 2012?

Progress in reducing global primary energy intensity over the tracking period was substantial, though still only two-thirds of the pace needed to reach the Sustainable Energy For All (SE4All) objective.

  • The annual rate of efficiency improvement, as measured by primary energy intensity, equaled 1.7 percent over the tracking period, considerably more than in the base period 1990–2010. Still, the rate of improvement is nearly a full percentage point slower than the SE4All objective of an average annual 2.6 percent improvement between 2010 and 2030 (see figure 1).
  • Avoided primary energy use as a result of the incremental change in energy intensity from 2010 to 2012 alone, totaled some 20 exajoules (EJ) in 2012, or more energy than Japan used that year.
  • Of end-use sectors, industry is the largest contributor to reduced energy intensity, followed closely by transport.
  • Electricity transmission and distribution losses are falling, and many countries are using more-efficient gas-fired plants.
  • Average thermal efficiency of fossil power generation stagnated as a results of continued expansion of coal-fired capacity

Figure 1: Rate of change in global energy intensity (CGAR, PPP) compared with target

Energy Efficency

Tracking Energy Efficiency

SE4All objective
BulletDouble the rate of improvement of energy efficiency


Central indicator
BulletCompound annual growth rate of total primary energy supply to gross domestic product (GDP) at purchasing power parity (PPP)


Indicator baseline 1990-2010


Indicator status 2010-2012


Indicator target 2010-2030