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Energy sufficiency policy: how to limit energy consumption and per capita dwelling size in a decent way

Panel: 1. Foundations of future energy policy

This is a peer-reviewed paper.

Authors:
Stefan Thomas, Wuppertal Institute for Climate Environment and Energy, Germany
Lars Arvid Brischke, Ifeu-Institut, Germany
Johannes Thema, Wuppertal Institut, Germany
Leon Leuser, Ifeu-Institut, Germany
Michael Kopatz, Wuppertal Institut, Germany

Abstract

Energy sufficiency has recently gained increasing attention as a way to limit and reduce total energy consumption of households and overall.

This paper presents selected results of a research project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research that examined the potentials and barriers for energy sufficiency, how household members perceive sufficiency practices, and how policymakers could support and encourage these. Bottom-up calculations for an average 2-person household in Germany yielded a total electricity savings potential from energy efficiency and sufficiency of theoretically up to 75%.

The continuous growth of per capita living space was identified as one important driver for additional energy consumption both for heat and electricity. The paper will present findings of a representative survey of 600 persons responsible for the housework. It revealed that a part of the households is already practicing sufficiency options or are open towards these. Up to 30 % of these households can imagine, given the right conditions and policy support, to move to a smaller dwelling or to share an apartment with others when they are older.

Results of a first comprehensive analysis of an energy sufficiency policy to encourage and support households to sufficiency practices form the second part of the paper, with a focus on the feasibility and potential effectiveness of instruments for limiting the growth in average living space per person. This includes a case study on fostering communal housing projects as a measure to reduce living space. Further, the feasibility of a cap scheme for the total electricity sales of a supplier to its customers was examined. Instruments supporting energy-efficient and sufficient purchase and use of equipment complete the integrated energy sufficiency and efficiency policy package.

The paper will finally present the project’s conclusions on an integrated energy sufficiency policy package resulting from this analysis.

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