Friday, May 16, 2008

Report Focuses On Energy Efficiency Accomplishments & Future

May 15: A major new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) shows that U.S. energy consumption (as measured per dollar of economic output) will have been slashed by the end of 2008 to half of what it was in 1970, from 18,000 Btus to about 8,900 Btus. ACEEE indicated in a release that, "It's the U.S. energy boom that no one knows about. Energy efficiency may be the farthest-reaching, least-polluting, and fastest-growing energy success story of the last 50 years. But it also is the most invisible, the least understood, and in serious danger of missing out on needed future investments."

ACEEE said the report, The Size of the U.S. Energy Efficiency Market: Generating a More Complete Picture, is the first attempt to quantify the overall impact of the hidden U.S. energy efficiency boom. The report concludes that "…our nation is not aware of the role that energy efficiency has played in satisfying our growing energy-service demands…the contributions of efficiency often go unrecognized. The contributions of energy efficiency often remain invisible..."

The report also notes that although efficiency is a proven resource, it remains underdeveloped. "In short, the evidence suggests that efficiency can make an even larger contribution towards stabilizing energy prices and reducing greenhouse gas emissions -- should we choose to fully develop it." The ACEEE report was prepared with major support from the Civil Society Institute (CSI). Additional support was provided by the Kendall Foundation and the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association.

Key report findings include:
  • Given the right choices and investments in the many cost-effective but underutilized energy efficiency technologies, the United States can cost-effectively reduce energy consumption by an additional 25-30% or more over the course of the next 20-25 years.
  • Annual investments in energy efficiency technologies currently support 1.6 million U.S. jobs. The $300 billion invested in energy efficiency in 2004 was three times the amount invested in traditional energy infrastructure.
  • Investments in energy efficiency technologies are estimated to have generated approximately 1.7 quads of energy savings in 2004 alone – roughly the equivalent of the energy required to operate 40 mid-sized coal-fired or nuclear power plants.
  • Since 1970, energy efficiency has met about three-fourths of the demand for new energy-related services while conventional energy supply has covered only one-fourth of this demand.
  • Total investments in more energy efficiency technologies could increase the annual energy efficiency market by nearly $400 billion by 2030, resulting in an annual efficiency market of more than $700 billion – and total additional investments over the period 2008-2030 of nearly $7 trillion.

The report also identifies energy efficiency by industry. The size of energy efficiency investments varies considerably across U.S. sectors. In the buildings sector, investments in energy efficiency totaled about $178 billion, or nearly 60% of total energy efficiency investments in 2004. Of these investments, nearly half (49%) were made in energy-efficient appliances and electronics, while 29% were made in energy-efficient commercial building structures and 22% were made in energy-efficient residential building structures.

In the industrial sector, investments reached roughly $75 billion in 2004, representing one quarter of total efficiency investments for the year. In the transportation sector, investments represented approximately 11% of total efficiency investments, or $33 billion in 2004. Interestingly, this pattern of investments does not mirror the patterns of energy use across sectors. While the buildings sector accounts for 39% of total U.S. energy consumption, it received 62% of total efficiency investments. Within the buildings sector, investments in appliances and electronics (48%) far exceeded the proportion of energy consumed by these devices (8%). In the industrial sector, the proportion of investments was lower than the proportion of energy use (25% and 34%, respectively). Notably, the transportation sector also proved to be significantly unbalanced, representing only 11% of efficiency investments but 28% of overall energy use.

Access a release and link to the complete 58-page report (
click here). [*Energy]