Energy efficiency technologies offer major savings

Dec 09, 2009

Energy efficiency technologies that exist today or that are likely to be developed in the near future could save considerable money as well as energy, says a new report from the National Research Council. Fully adopting these technologies could lower projected U.S. energy use 17 percent to 20 percent by 2020, and 25 percent to 31 percent by 2030.

Achieving full deployment of these efficiency technologies will depend in part on pressures driving adoption, such as high prices or public policies designed to increase energy efficiency. Nearly 70 percent of in the United States occurs in buildings. The from attaining full deployment of cost-effective, energy-efficient technologies in buildings alone could eliminate the need to add new capacity through 2030, the report says. New facilities would be needed only to address imbalances in regional energy supplies, replace obsolete facilities, or to introduce more environmentally friendly sources of electricity.

Many cost-effective efficiency investments in buildings are possible, the report says. For example, replacing appliances such as air conditioners, refrigerators, freezers, furnaces, and hot water heaters with more efficient models could reduce energy use by 30 percent. Opportunities for achieving substantial energy savings exist in the industrial and transportation sectors as well. For example, deployment of industrial energy efficiency technologies could reduce energy use in manufacturing 14 percent to 22 percent by 2020, relative to expected trends. Most of these savings would occur in the most energy-intensive industries, such as chemical manufacturing, petroleum refining, pulp and paper, iron and steel, and cement.

Although there is great potential, many barriers exist to widespread adoption of energy efficiency technologies, the report points out. The upfront costs can be high, which can deter investment despite the possibility of long-term cost savings. Volatile energy prices can cause buyers to delay purchasing more efficient technology due to a lack of confidence that they will see an adequate return on their investment. In addition, there is a shortage of readily available, trustworthy information for consumers hoping to learn about the relative performance and costs of energy-efficient technology alternatives. Investments in energy-efficient infrastructure are particularly important, as these can lock in patterns of energy use for decades. Therefore, taking advantage of windows of opportunity for infrastructure is crucial.

Overcoming these barriers will require significant public and private support, and sustained effort. Many energy efficiency initiatives have been successful, such as the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star labeling program. Efforts undertaken by California and New York have yielded large energy savings for those states. These experiences provide valuable lessons for national, state, and local policymakers on enacting effective policies.

This is the final report in a series from the National Academies' America's Energy Future project, which was undertaken to stimulate and inform a constructive national dialogue about the nation's energy future.

Source: National Academy of Sciences (news : web)

Explore further: After Fukushima, Japan gets green boom—and glut

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New standards for Energy Star fridges

Aug 04, 2007

The U.S. Department of Energy is increasing the energy efficiency criteria required for refrigerators carrying the Energy Star label.

U.S., China sign energy agreement

Sep 17, 2007

The U.S. Department of Energy has joined with China in agreeing to increase cooperation to heighten energy efficiency in China's industrial sector.

Recommended for you

European grid prepares for massive integration of renewables

21 hours ago

Today, the ancient city of Rome welcomed an important new initiative for the large-scale integration of grids and of renewables sources into Europe's energy mix, with nearly 40 leading organisations from research, industry, ...

Preparing for a zero-emission urban bus system

Oct 30, 2014

In order to create a competitive and sustainable transport system, the EU must look to alternative fuels to replace or complement petrol and diesel. Not only will this reduce transport emissions but it will ...

Exploring the value of 'Energy Star' homes

Oct 30, 2014

The numbers in neat columns tell—column by column, page by page—a story spread out across Carmen Carrión-Flores' desk at Binghamton University. It's a great story, she says; she just doesn't know how ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.