US ‘thinking too small’ about energy efficiency ...

US ‘thinking too small’ about energy efficiency
The US is better off ‘thinking big’ about energy efficiency instead of automatically focusing on the development of new energy sources, according to a new report from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE).
The report, The long term energy efficiency potential: what the evidence suggests, states that reducing US energy use by 60% could generate two million jobs for the country and could save US consumers around $400bn annually. It describes an America that ‘thinks too small’ about energy efficiency and crowds out investments in energy efficiency that are economical, instead focusing on ‘riskier and more expensive’ bids to develop new energy sources.
The report outlines three scenarios under which the US either continues on its current path or cuts energy consumption by the year 2050 by around 60%. It states that the secret towards gains from energy efficiency is a more productive investment pattern in the practice to lower energy expenditures in the residential, commercial, industrial, transportation and electric power sectors.
The report identifies several areas for potential large-scale efficiency savings, including:
Electric power - the current system of generating and delivering electricity to US homes and businesses runs at 30% efficiency, it says, a level that has remained unchanged since 1960.
Transportation - the fuel economy of conventionally fuelled vehicles grows while hybrid, electric, and fuel cell vehicles gain large shares, totalling nearly three-quarters of all new light-duty vehicles in 2050 in the report's middle scenario. Aviation, rail, and shipping energy use declines substantially in this scenario through a combination of technological and operational improvements. In the most aggressive scenario, there is a shift toward more compact development patterns, and greater investment in alternative modes of travel.
Buildings - in residential and commercial buildings, potential reductions of space heating and cooling needs as the result of building shell improvements are achievable of up to 60% in existing buildings, and 70-90% in new buildings.
Industry - in the industrial sector, energy efficiency opportunities reduce 2050 energy use by up to 50%, coming less from equipment efficiency and more from optimisation of complex systems.
The full report is available from www.aceee.org

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