Energy Efficiency

The first global study by the International Energy Agency (IEA), says that investment in energy efficiency is large and growing: $300 billion in 2011 by companies and governments in 11 countries. That is the same as total investment in electricity generation from oil, gas and coal, though less than investment in renewable electricity plus renewable-energy subsidies. But it saves more in emissions of carbon dioxide than all the spending on renewables, and pays for itself.

Reducing energy consumption and eliminating energy wastage are among the main goals of the European Union (EU). EU support for improving energy efficiency will prove decisive for competitiveness, security of supply and for meeting the commitments on climate change made under the Kyoto Protocol. There is significant potential for reducing consumption, especially in energy-intensive sectors such as construction, manufacturing, energy conversion and transport. At the end of 2006, the EU pledged to cut its annual consumption of primary energy by 20% by 2020.

Energy efficiency offers a powerful and cost-effective tool for achieving a sustainable energy future. Improvements in energy efficiency can reduce the need for investment in energy infrastructure, cut fuel costs, increase competitiveness and improve consumer welfare. Environmental benefits can also be achieved by the reduction of greenhouse gases emissions and local air pollution. Energy security can also profit from improved energy efficiency by decreasing the reliance on imported fossil fuels.

The McKinsey Global Institute stated that energy efficiency is the easiest and most cost-effective way to reduce green-house gases. The International Energy Agency estimated that each $1 spent on more efficient electrical equipment, appliances and buildings avoids more than $2 investment in electricity generation.