eceee, ACEEE and AEEE joint 12 strategies paper for urgent global action on energy efficiency

A drastic reduction in global energy use will be essential for an affordable and manageable transition to a renewables-based clean energy future, according to a joint 12-strategies report submitted by the European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (eceee), the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), and the India-based Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE) to the International Energy Agency’s High-Level Commission for Urgent Action on Energy Efficiency. 

“Urgent action is needed” the three organisations say, noting that global trends are going in the wrong direction. Global growth in energy use is largely outpacing decarbonisation and in 2018, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reports that primary energy intensity–an important indicator of how much energy is used by the global economy–improved by just 1.2%, the slowest rate since 2010.

This slowing rate of improvement is alarming and in stark contrast to IEA’s call to governments to commit to a global annual improvement in energy intensity of 3% a year. In order to get energy efficiency progress back on track, the IEA has convened a high-level commission with senior politicians and business leaders. This report offers recommendations to the commission, which is expected to deliver its recommendations in the middle of 2020.Principles to support efficiency.

The three organisations promote a number of principles that support the energy efficiency strategies. Among these are energy sufficiency and circular economy, but equally important is a focus on the multiple benefits of energy and consistent work to track progress.

Energy codes and strict energy performance requirements are needed, and the paper points at the need to ensure proper design from the beginning in order to avoid expensive mistakes.

International knowledge transfer is an important element to quickly implement the most effective and actionable policies over the world.

12 strategies for global urgent action on energy efficiency

The 12 strategies offer a comprehensive coverage of necessary policies to deliver efficiency around the globe. For each of the policies, the three organisations provide a brief overview of what is needed to realise that particular strategy.

  • Net Zero-energy, water, waste and carbon buildings and homes are an increasing trend in regulations for new buildings, but cannot happen without proper support and building code updates.
  • Home and building retrofits are very important since most homes and commercial buildings that will be standing in 2050 have already been built, making efficiency retrofits critically important.
  • Cooling is the fastest-growing end use in buildings as its energy demand more than tripled between 1990 and 2018. Low energy cooling is crucial to counter that trend.
  • Smart buildings and homes. Sensors, automated controls, and other smart software can optimize energy use and reduce it by 15% or more if applied correctly.
  • Electrification of space and water heating can often reduce both energy use and emissions in regions with substantial space and water heating loads.
  • Appliance and equipment standards deliver large savings. In Canada, China, EU and the US appliance and equipment energy performance standards now cover more than 50 product types; these standards should be regularly updated and other countries follow suit.
  • Industrial efficiency – According to the IEA, overall manufacturing energy intensity could improve by 44% between now and 2040 with 70% of the energy savings potential in less energy-intensive manufacturing sectors.
  • Vehicles have substantially increased in energy efficiency in recent years, driven primarily by ambitious fuel economy standards. Electric vehicles generally reduce energy use and often reduce emissions. More ambitious standards and closed loopholes are needed.
  • Reducing vehicle distance travelled and modal shift. Improved vehicle fuel economy will not adequately address energy use over the long term in the transportation sector if growth in vehicle distance travelled goes unchecked.
  • The freight sector can save energy through mode switching, providing seamless transitions among various modes; the digitization of logistics; “green corridors” and using collaborative shipping arrangements to optimize vehicle loads and avoid empty back hauls. Improved management of supply chains also can reduce and shorten freight shipments.
  • Aviation efficiency and long-distance travel. Energy use and emissions are growing rapidly in aviation. Increased access to trains and virtual meetings can help offset this trend. In aviation, improved engines, operational efficiency by air traffic control, airlines and pilots, and reductions in the amount of travel can cut aviation energy use and emissions by about 50%.
  • New electric grid technologies can reduce power losses in the grid (as well as in homes and buildings). Better grid design, smart metering, integration of demand-side management (DSM) and demand-response (DR) interventions and theft prevention efforts can further reduce losses.