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Energy Efficiency in the Spotlight

“Between 2001-2011, residential energy demand dropped the most - by 5%, largely due to increased efficiency. Over that period, 18 countries reduced energy use more than the amount consumed by the US and Germany combined in 2012.” News

On Oct. 9, reported on A First: More Invested in Efficiency Than Renewable Energy. Quoting from the International Energy Agency (IEA)’s Energy Efficiency Market Report 2014 (PDF) and other sources, wrote, “For the first time, investments in efficiency are higher than those for renewable energy, and growing. In 2012, as much as $360 billion was invested worldwide in efficiency, compared to $213 billion for renewable energy (a low year).”

Climate Progress also discussed the IEA report under the headline, Efficiency Gains Over The Last Decade Saved More Energy Than China Consumed In 2011. Climate Progress also noted that a previous IEA analysis “found that improvements in health outcomes, industrial productivity, and other benefits from energy efficiency can deliver savings that are several times the cost of the upgrades.”

Not all the news is good; or, rather, energy efficiency disinformation is not good when presented as news. Climate Progress’ Joe Romm took issue with a New York Times’ Oct. 8 op-ed, “The Problem With Energy Efficiency” and its claim that “growing evidence that low-cost efficiency often leads to faster energy growth.”1

“Based on the New York Times piece, however, you’d think that the IPCC and the IEA were quite devastated by their analysis of the rebound effect and had become sour on energy efficiency as a climate-mitigation tool for policymakers,” Romm counters. “In fact, the reverse is true. Based on their review of the literature, both the IEA and IPCC strongly endorse energy efficiency measures!”

Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time op-ed authors Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus have taken a contrarian view of sustainability and renewable energy. The op-ed declares that the two authors “are co-founders of the Breakthrough Institute, an energy and environmental research center.” Romm wrote of them back in 2009, Debunking Breakthrough Institute’s attacks on Obama, Gore, and top climate scientists. In 2012, Grist reported that the Breakthrough Institute gets it wrong on climate economics — again. In 2013, Clean Technica asked, The Breakthrough Institute – Why The Hot Air? “aimed at discrediting renewable energy on the one hand and on the other preaching about nuclear energy as the solution for the global energy crisis of the 21st century.”

IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven states definitively that, “Energy efficiency is moving from a niche interest to an established market segment with increasing interest from institutional lenders and investors.”

Energy efficiency certainly sounds like a winning strategy to save money and the planet. You can learn more about new technologies in efficiency with Residential Energy Management or Facility Management Technology at Ecotech Institute.

“If the world wants to avoid a temperature increase of 5 or 6 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, then ambitious programmes of energy efficiency have to be launched in all sectors and in all countries.”
IEA Executive Director, Maria van der Hoeven.

Kyle G. Crider (MPA, LEED AP ND) is a professional science and sustainability “story teller.” In his spare time he is pursuing his Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary (Environmental Health) Engineering and traveling the highways and by-ways of home state with his wife Beverly in search of fact, fiction, and folklore for Strange Alabama.