Report from US EE Global Conference

13 May 2010Archived News Climate Change Matters

In May 2010, Jonathan Jutsen (Energetics’ Founder and Executive Director) attended EE Global: the Energy Efficiency Global Forum in Washington DC attended by almost 1000 international delegates. The conference is run by the US Alliance to Save Energy, with an Australian chapter currently being established in Australia (Australian Alliance to Save Energy, or A2SE).

For those that are interested in international developments and policy, Jonathan provided a short summary on topics that are presently being discussed by Government and corporate delegates at this conference and, more broadly, in the US:

  • Energy efficiency is the focal area for carbon mitigation in the USA. It is recognised as the most certain, economical and rapidly deployed way to cut emissions.
  • Energy efficiency in the US economy is currently less than 10 per cent, (on a par with Australia). This means that of all the fossil fuel energy burnt, only 10 per cent actually delivers the end services that our economy demands – i.e. light, warm air, cold beer, travelling from place to place…
  • Energy efficiency can drive over 50 per cent reduction on energy demand for the current economic output within twenty years, and over 20 per cent within ten years.
  • Technology needed to achieve this 50 per cent reduction is currently in use and fully commercialised, with further technology that make greater improvements in development.
  • Funding and regulation focus for carbon mitigation in the US is centred on energy efficiency.
  • US Government and corporate leadership is clear, with many major corporations reporting savings of between 30 and 60 per cent on a per unit output basis.
  • In California, well over $1 billion/year is spent by the utility industry on energy efficiency, with this investment saving $2 billion/year in deferred network investment costs.

It is worth contemplating the difference between Australia and the US. In Australia, Government could do a lot more to encourage business improvement in energy efficiency. The expectation of the government was that the CPRS would be sufficient to drive energy efficiency. A combined approach is needed; a price on carbon with strong incentives and regulations for energy efficiency. With no price on carbon in the near future, the Government and corporate Australia must push ahead with efficiency measures as a matter of urgency to enable us to achieve our modest 5 per cent carbon reduction target for 2020.

Australia’s transmission and distribution utilities will spend $40 billion in the next five years on network investment. The cost will flow through the economy in the form of energy price increases of up to 50 per cent. This investment is forging ahead without a thorough assessment into whether system needs could be met through energy efficiency improvements and encouraging customers to control their energy usage.

The Government’s current interest in renewable energy is pleasing, but the most feasible, short term option to achieve Australia’s carbon reduction targets is through energy efficiency. Compared to renewable energy, great efficiency can be delivered at a cost of only 10-20 per cent of the cost of renewable energy. This option must become a priority if Australia wishes to cut carbon emissions at the lowest cost to the economy and consumers. 


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