Energy Intensity Indicators: Coverage

This system of energy intensity indicators for total energy covers the economy as a whole, according to the diagram below, and each of the sectors identified in the diagram. The treatment of these four sectors—transportation, industry, commercial buildings, and residential buildings—assumes that electricity losses are distributed to the end-use sectors. Coverage for each of the four sectors can be seen by moving to the linked sectors. At the current stage of development, all sectors except commercial buildings are complete. Further enhancements to the commercial sector data will be completed later.

The top box in Figure 1, below, refers to aggregate energy trends and intensity trends for the economy from 1985 to 2004. The boxes with the word "Sector" in the title show the structure of each of the four end-use sectors, as used in this site.

An alternative way to view the economy is to treat the electricity generating sector separately, attributing all losses to this sector rather than allocating them to the end-use sectors. This makes a considerable difference to the energy intensity trends in the industrial and buildings sectors, but has virtually no effect on either the aggregate index or on the transportation sector. This approach is used in the Five Sector Indicators section (see Highlights—Delivered Energy).

The indices of energy intensity are constructed at the end-use sector level, and they attempt to isolate contributions of energy intensity, output or activity, and other selected explanatory factors (e.g., weather, shifts in output). Indices generated are normalized to a reference year just as implicit price deflators and real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) are reported based on reference years in the GDP accounts of the Bureau of Economic Analysis. This system of energy intensity indicators is designed to be updated periodically and relies on interpolated data where data are only reported in selected years.

The intensity indicators on this website differ from, but complement, the Energy Information Administration's (EIA) indicator work and products. They differ from EIA indicators in several key ways because they

  • identify other explanatory factors at each level of aggregation; this allows these other effects to be identified in a way that EIA does not attempt
  • provide more detailed sector disaggregation, enabling nesting of intensity indices up and down sector and subsectors in a way that allows the integrity of the intensity index to be maintained
  • assure that other explanatory factors at lower levels of aggregation are accounted for and integrated at higher levels of aggregation

These "other explanatory factors" vary by end-use sector, so discussion of these are provided on other sections of the website that examine trends at the end-use sector level (See Highlights - Total Energy).

Targeted Users
Intended users of this website include the general public. Additional targeted users include energy analysts, energy program administrators, policy analysts, energy economists, and researchers who undertake analyses to support policy and program decision making in the public and private sector.

Website Credits
The methodology and data for the energy intensity indicators were developed by a laboratory-university team comprised of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Stanford University's Energy Modeling Forum, Argonne National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory under contract to the U.S. Department of Energy.