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Overall energy intensity of the Brussels Region

The energy intensity is the relationship between the amount of energy a sector consumes and a variable that represents this sector. On a national or international level, a country's energy intensity is often calculated in relation to the GDP or to the number of inhabitants.
In the BCR, the total energy intensity (per inhabitant) has progressively decreased over the last few years: 18.4 MWh/inhabitant in 2013 versus 24.3 in 2005 and 22.1 in 1990.

Context

The energy intensity is the relationship between the amount of energy a sector consumes and a variable that represents this sector. Hence, a higher energy intensity corresponds to:

  • Either a greater consumption of energy per unit of the variable considered,
  • Or a reduction in the representative variable used (decrease in the value of the denominator in the ratio calculated).

On a national or international level, a country's energy intensity is often calculated in relation to the GDP or to the number of inhabitants. Incidentally, the use of these indicators is also widespread in comparisons between regions or countries.

Overall energy intensity of the Brussels Region

Evolution of the total energy consumption in the Brussels Region, with and without climatic correction, of the Brussels population and of the energy intensity
Source : Regional energy balances and BISA according to the figures from the DGSIE (population on 1 January)

As a reminder: the climatic correction is aimed at identifying the influence of  the meteorological characteristics for the relevant year and therefore at giving an idea of the evolution of the energy consumption at a constant climate (in comparison to the climate of 1990 in this case).


Overall, the total energy consumption in Brussels has seen a decrease since 2004 (for additional information see the indicator for Brussels' energy consumption). The population of Brussels, on the other hand, has steadily increased since 1997.
Hence, the total energy intensity per inhabitant has gradually improved in the past years:

It should be noted however that, for any entity subject to this calculation, the indicator should be analysed with caution as it will inevitably be strongly influenced by its socio-economic characteristics.

The Brussels-Capital Region is therefore a city characterised among other things by:

  • The lowest average income of the 3 Belgian Regions, with a more uneven distribution (the median income is also lower) (according to the tax data of Statbel, published by the Brussels Institute for Statistics and Analysis (BISA)). One third of the Brussels population therefore lives on an income which is lower than the at-risk-of-poverty threshold (the threshold set at 60% of the equivalent median available income in Belgium, according to data from the European survey "Statistics on Income and Living Conditions" EU-SILC);
  • A housing stock characterised by a significant proportion of tenants (61% according to the Census 2011), which has an influence on the potential for the energy enhancement of the existing building stock;
  • A significant number of commuters (~365,000 according to the most recent estimates made in the 2012 Labour Force Survey by Statbel), which implies that a proportion of the energy consumption for transport or for economic activities is associated with people who live outside the Region;
  • A dominant tertiary activity, and a limited industrial fabric (according to data from the Institute of National Accounts (INA)).

As such, a decrease in the total energy intensity (per inhabitant) does not necessarily mean that every inhabitant of the BCR consumes less and less energy, even though that may provide a partial explanation. Other factors, which are not necessarily attributable to inhabitants of the BCR, can explain this decrease, such as:

  • evolutions in the office stock (better insulation, less consumption);
  • evolutions in industrial activity (the decline of certain types of activities, a shift towards other activities);
  • changes relating to transport (including distances driven).

Moreover, an increase in the population, regardless of any evolution in the socio-economic fabric or the energy quality of buildings and transport, etc., may lead to an improvement in the energy intensity which is potentially at the detriment of quality of life.

A more detailed supplementary analysis is therefore required (particularly per sector of energy consumption). This is presented in the indicators relating to intensity per sector. Moreover, the socio-economic characteristics of the Region (income of the population, types of activity, consumption habits, etc.) and the property stock are only taken into account from a very general perspective. More detailed supplementary analysis of the explanatory factors should consequently be undertaken before any conclusions are drawn.

Date de mise à jour: 13/11/2018