European Review of Economic History

North versus South: Energy transition and energy intensity in Europe over 200 years

a1 Faculty of Economics, Economic History, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
a2 Department of Economic History, Box 7083, 220 07 Lund, Sweden
a3 Institute of Studies on Mediterranean Societies (Italian National Council of Research) Italy
a4 Department of Economics and Business, University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain

Article author query
gales b   [Google Scholar] 
kander a   [Google Scholar] 
malanima p   [Google Scholar] 
rubio m   [Google Scholar] 


This article examines energy consumption in Sweden, Holland, Italy and Spain over 200 years, including both traditional and modern energy carriers. The analysis is based on totally new series of energy consumption including traditional carriers along with modern sources. Our main purposes are a closer examination of the process of the energy transition in Europe and a revision of the prevailing idea of there being, over the long run, an inverted U-curve in energy intensity. Changes in energy consumption are decomposed into effects from population growth, economic growth and energy intensity. The results on energy intensity challenge the previous suggestions of most scholars. An inverted U-curve does not exist whenever we include traditional sources of energy in our analysis.