When it comes to reducing the use of fossil fuels, energy efficiency tends to take a back seat to technologies like wind and solar.
The idea behind energy efficiency is to take measures to reduce the overall amount of power we use and thereby reduce the need to develop new sources of energy. So for instance, a large residential building could put weather stripping on all the windows, preventing heat loss which will drastically lower the amount of energy used by the building. The cost of weather stripping is nothing compared to the amount of money saved in electrical and/or gas usage.
A new study out today by the Energy Efficiency Council of Australia finds that, "energy efficiency will deliver 65 per cent of worldwide carbon cuts in the energy sector by 2020, and 54 per cent by 2030. This means that in 2020 energy efficiency could have almost twice the impact of renewable energy, nuclear power and clean coal combined."
So energy efficiency seems like a no-brainer, but it has been slow on the uptake over the years, for a couple of reasons, I think. The first is that compared to cool technological advances in wind, solar, tidal and geothermal, energy efficiency isn't very sexy - politicians would much rather stand in front of a wind farm than they would hold up a roll of weather stripping.
A second reason is that energy efficiency is a simple solution, one that I think the public dismiss as too simple to meet the massive challenges we face like climate change.
I am obviously simplifying a complex set of issues, but I think these two reasons lie at the core of the problem.
In the long run though I am optimistic, because as politicians around the world begin to toil with the decision of whether to approve new dirty coal and nuclear plants, energy efficiency will become more and more attractive as a solution to the growing energy crisis.
You can go here to download the free energy efficiency report [pdf] by the Energy Efficiency Council of Australia.
For more analysis on the report check out: Energy Efficiency: Twice the Impact of Renewables, Nuclear and Clean Coal. Combined.
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