The first ever Energy Efficiency Market Report was just released by the International Energy Agency, and it clearly illustrates for the 11 countries* it examined that between 1974 and 2010, energy efficiency was the largest energy resource. In 2010, alone, (the most recent year for which data is available) savings from energy efficiency was greater than the output from any other single fuel source – including coal, oil, nuclear and gas. Who knew?
We already knew from a recently released NRDC report that energy efficiency – stretching our energy dollars to do more with less– is America’s greatest energy resource. And that despite it being our most productive and cost-effective resource, we keep forgetting it is a resource just like coal and oil but so much cleaner in terms of our air. (Efficiency isn’t even included on the list of the “all of the above” energy strategies being discussed in most public discourse.) This isn’t just an American phenomenon, but a global one that the IEA refers to as the “hidden fuel…hiding in plain sight.”
Photo of thermal imaging showing energy loss by iied.org, under Creative Commons
The IEA report makes a number of other very eye-opening findings with regard to energy efficiency, including:
The report also found that effective policies (necessary because of fuel subsidies, high transaction costs, information failures and a lack of institutional capacity) had a great deal to do with stimulating the energy efficiency market. These policies include efficiency standards and labeling, access to energy-saving information and financing, and energy efficiency standards on utilities.
Given its vast untapped potential and enormous benefits, we should not allow the world’s #1 fuel source to remain hidden anymore.
* The 11 countries IEA examined are: Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.