Energy-saving efforts continue to deliver vast gains, but their develop is slowing and will need at least a doubling of investment to reach global sustainability goals, according to the International Energy Agency’s new Energy Efficiency 2018 market report, released last week.
The sixth annual report by the IEA, a Paris-based organization formed and led by 30 developed countries, includes striking data on the value of energy efficiency. While global energy use has grown by a third since 2000, the figure below shows that the increase would have been more than 50% greater without efficiency.
The International Energy Agency’s new Energy Efficiency finds that much more efficiency savings are possible in its “Efficient World Scenario” (EWS), which includes improved efficiency policies and increased investments. In the EWS, as illustrated below, global energy efficiency savings increase more than three-fold relative to 2017 savings. The largest savings are in the transport sector, but substantial savings can also be found in the buildings and industrial sectors. The scenario only includes current technologies but assumes very aggressive implementation of them; on balance it seems a reasonable projection of the achievable global potential savings.
In transportation, the agency recommends a focus on vehicle fuel economy and electric vehicles. In industry it notes that the bulk of potential energy savings are in less energy-intensive sectors because these sectors have historically paid less attention to sustainability. And in buildings it notes that energy use can be reduced about 40% on average through more efficient new construction as well as retrofits of existing buildings.
They show the importance of these energy efficiency actions to meeting the global goals of the Paris Agreement and that the world is not getting the savings it needs from energy efficiency to develop economies and reduce climate change. While energy efficiency has contributed a lot, far more investment and policy support are needed for a sustainable future.