Signs continue to point to a dramatic shift in the workings of human civilization as we pivot towards a less energy intensive future.
Energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product – otherwise called “energy intensity” – has fallen by one-third around the world in the last 25 years, new government figures show.
The implications of that will be vast as utilities figure out the business they are in, and policy makers decide what energy initiatives need to be incentivized.
Economic might and national wealth in the past has been aligned with oil and gas extraction, coal exhumation, the march of gargantuan transmission networks across the landscape.
That may be less true in the future.
The decline in energy intensity dominates both the most developed countries – members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development – as well as poor, less-developed countries, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
“Historically, energy intensity levels in non-OECD countries have been higher than levels in OECD countries,” the EIA report said.
“In many non-OECD countries, economies have been industrializing and rely on more energy-intensive forms of energy use. In contrast, many OECD countries have transitioned from relying on energy-intensive manufacturing to using more services-based economic activities that are less energy intensive,” the EIA said.
Energy productivity soared a world-leading 133 percent in China between 1990 and 2015 as the increase in economic output more than doubled its increase in energy consumption. The United States energy productivity climbed 58 percent in that time – more than all other nations and regions tracked.
OECD Europe energy productivity jumped 37 percent during the 15-year period.