© Roger Dohmen

Net inland energy consumption in the private sector

Net inland energy consumption by the private sector rose by 2 percent in 2016 compared to 2000, while GDP increased by 21 percent. This means there was a relative decoupling of energy consumption and economic growth. Energy consumption decreased over the period 2004-2014, but has increased again slightly since 2014.

Net inland energy consumption is equal to the total amount of energy used in an economy through production and consumption activities. This includes all final energy consumption for energy and non-energy applications plus conversion losses. Net energy consumption by the private sector refers to total consumption by industry and excludes households. Energy consumption is calculated in accordance with the relevant definitions in the National accounts. This includes all energy consumption Dutch economic activities, including international transport by Dutch carriers.

The issue

Energy is essential to the economy as input for production processes and as a consumer commodity. The production and use of non-renewable energy often have a negative impact on the environment (emissions of CO2 and other air pollutants) and are directly related to the depletion of these energy resources. Therefore, improving energy efficiency and decoupling energy consumption from economic growth are key objectives for green growth.

Analysis

Between 2000 and 2008, economic growth was the driving force behind the increase in energy consumption by the private sector. This increase was only partially slowed down by more energy-efficient production processes. Net energy consumption has been stable since 2008. The economic crisis was only one of the factors responsible for this.

All these developments have resulted in a 15 percent decrease in energy intensity (energy consumption per euro of value added) since 2000. Energy intensity has mainly improved in agriculture, metal manufacturing, the machinery industry, energy supply and construction.

The effects of higher energy standards for buildings, vehicles and installations have become visible in an improved energy intensity. In 2015 and 2016, energy consumption by the private sector increased, particularly in agriculture, the chemical industry and in electricity generation.

International comparison

The Netherlands ranks average in terms of energy intensity compared to other OECD countries. The Dutch economy is relatively energy-intensive: there are relatively many industries with production processes that require a lot of energy, such as refineries, the chemical industry, greenhouse horticulture and the transport sector. However, the energy intensity of many production processes has decreased over the years due to various energy-saving measures. Countries with higher energy intensity include Iceland, Sweden, Finland and Norway, where more energy is needed to heat buildings because of the colder climate. Compared to the Netherlands, the United States and Australia have lower energy saving standards and energy efficiency processes in production and energy supply. Spain, Italy and Greece have a lower energy intensity, mainly because of the warmer climate. The energy intensity of Germany and the United Kingdom is lower because their economies are characterized by relatively fewer energy-intensive activities. In 2015, the Netherlands took 14th place in the European rankings in terms of energy intensity. This is slightly better than in 2013, when it occupied 17th place.