Energy Efficiency

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Energy efficiency is biggest opportunity for advancing sustainable energy

Energy Efficiency



Quick facts

Energy efficiency is the only area that came moderately close to the pace of improvement to meet 2030 objectives but progress remains short of what is needed. Global primary energy intensity improved at 2.1 percent a year in 2012–14, still short of the SEforALL objective of a 2.6 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over 2010–30. Given the underperformance in energy intensity improvement since 2010, the effective target rate for 2014–30 is now higher, at 2.8 percent a year.
The top 20 energy consuming economies globally –or high impact countries –accounted for more than 75 percent of global Total Primary Energy Supply (TPES). Four countries, China, the United States, India and Russia, accounted for nearly 50 percent of global TPES, with 22 percent attributed to China alone.
15 out of 20 high impact countries reduced their intensity over 2012-14. The United Kingdom, Nigeria, China, Italy, Australia, Russia and Mexico reduced their energy intensity by more than 2 percent annually.
Low Income Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have the highest energy intensity in the world at 10.3 MJ/2011 PPP$ in 2014 due to their strong reliance on inefficient traditional biomass. This is compared to the SEforALL objective for global energy intensity of 5.5 MJ/2011 PPP$.
Estimates suggest that energy efficiency investment would need to increase by a factor of 3-6 from current levels of $250 billion a year to reach the 2030 objective.


  • Energy efficiency offers a huge and growing opportunity for the world to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. The International Energy Agency estimates that global investment in energy efficiency was $221 billion in 2015, an increase of 6 percent from 2014 and 60 percent greater than investment in conventional power generation.
  • Investing in energy conservation measures has the potential to cut fuel import bills, boost the economy and create numerous jobs, and is also essential to address climate change. Energy efficiency measures in International Energy Agency member countries generated energy savings of 450 million tonnes of oil equivalent in 2015 and reduced total energy expenditure by $540 billion. Even for the least developed countries increasing energy productivity now is a smart concept, as emphasized by multiple Nationally Determined Contributions including Bangladesh, Burkina Faso or Uganda.
  • There has been some decoupling of growth and energy demand over 2012-14. In North America, GDP continued to grow while energy demand was falling, notably because of fuel switching from coal to more efficient natural gas in the US power sector. This decoupling effect was evident in the European Union as well as much of the developing world, except for Latin American and the Arab region.
  • The intensity of final energy consumption in industry, agriculture, services, and transport are on a long-term downward trend with energy savings seen across the board. The residential sector on the other hand is a large and fast growing segment of energy consumption and is becoming more energy intensive. Improvements in the efficiency of thermal power generation and power networks have been relatively slow.


NOTES: 1. The dotted line represents approximately the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir by India and Pakistan. The final status of Jammu and Kashmir has not yet been agreed upon by the parties.
2. This map was produced by SEforALL. It is based on the UN Map of the World, which can be found here: The boundaries, colors, denominations and any other information shown on this map do not imply, on the part of SEforALL, any judgment on the legal status of any territory or any endorsement or acceptance of such boundaries.

SOURCES: International Energy Agency (IEA) and the World Bank. 2017. “Progress Towards Sustainable Energy: Global Tracking Framework 2017” (April), World Bank, Washington, DC. Data extracted from on 06/20/2017.DC.

Goal 7 target

Energy efficiency