Photo: Sydney City, via Energy Efficiency Council
"The International Energy Agency estimates that energy efficiency will deliver 65 per cent of worldwide carbon cuts in the energy sector by 2020, and 54 per cent by 2030. This means that in 2020 energy efficiency could have almost twice the impact of renewable energy, nuclear power and clean coal combined."
Such were findings of the Energy Efficiency Council (EEC) of Australia, who late last month released report entitled Energy Efficiency: Australia's Low Carbon Opportunity, with the subhead of Boost Profits, Cut Emissions, Create Jobs. The EEC believe that increasing the uptake of energy efficiency could save more greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 than taking every Australian car off the road.The Energy Efficiency Council also point out that Australian electricity prices are about to rise up to 42% in the next three years, as energy utilities gear up to spend $40 billion AUD over five years expanding the grid. The EEC say customers will wear the flow on of this, the single largest ever investment in the electricity grid. A cost that could be avoided were energy efficiency given more importance.
They cite, for example, one company who has discovered they can save so much energy at one plant that it would equal to powering 100,000 homes. And that's butt one business. The report notes that "just 220 companies, mainly in manufacturing, mining, and construction, use more than 40 per cent of the energy consumed in Australia." As the Sydney Morning Herald points out this is "almost twice as much power as all households combined."
Not that any of this would be news to the Rocky Mountain Institute's co-founder, Amory Lovins, who way back in 1989 introduced the term Negawatt, as a measure of energy efficiency, being a unit in watts of energy saved.
More than twenty years on, with energy costs rising and our home planet under stress we still don't appear to be listening to such sage advice. Yet we call ourselves Homo sapiens sapiens, or wise wise man. What's the Latin for 'stupid dumb arse?'
Let's hope we don't need to find out and households, businesses and governments finally see the rightness of energy efficiency and start acting appropriately.
The Energy Efficiency Council suggest such action could begin with cutting energy use by 20% below business as usual by 2020 and introducing a National Efficiency Scheme (NES). And that's just the first two of seven actions.
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