The ability of the structural intensity (STI) to predict changes in the sound radiation of structures due to geometric modifications is investigated using the academic example of plate-rib models. All models consist of the same plate and are modified by attaching a rib, whose position, orientation, and length are varied. Various scalar quantities are derived from the STI and quantitatively compared to the equivalent radiated sound power (ERP) for each model. Based on this comparison the relation between the STI-based scalars and the ERP is studied to determine an STI-based scalar that can serve as the objective function for numerical structural optimizations. The influence of the rib parameters on the most promising STI-based scalar is analyzed by means of a variance-based sensitivity analysis. The STI pattern of those models with very high and very low ERP values are additionally analyzed to describe the characteristics of STI. The results of this study indicate that the STI pattern of models with low ERP has paths and vortices that can be more clearly identified compared to those in models with high ERP. The angular orientation of the rib has by far the highest influence on changes in STI and ERP. The results reveal a correlation between the energy flow into a specific region of a structure, an STI-based scalar, and the ERP. Therefore, the vibrational energy flow can indeed serve as an objective function for numerical structural optimizations aiming at reducing the sound radiation.