The International Energy Agency (IEA) has released a report suggesting that efficiency has great potential as a resource and brings a wide range of benefits with it. The report suggests that efficiency has often been overlooked but is beginning to step into the limelight. Among the many benefits cited are improved health, increased industrial productivity, and stabilizing energy prices. However, the report also suggests that the full potential of energy efficiency as a resource will not be realized unless policy goals are adjusted.
Why Energy Efficiency Is The Most Important Fuel We Didn’t Know We HadClimate Progress, September 9, 2014
Energy efficiency has graduated from the “hidden fuel” to the “first fuel.”
That’s the word from a new analysis the International Energy Agency published Tuesday, looking into the benefits of investments in energy efficiency upgrades. Those gains can be hard to measure, as they lie in energy not used and costs not encountered — hence the “hidden fuel” moniker. This tends to result in energy efficiency being chronically undervalued, a problem the study sought to remedy by taking a “multiple benefits” approach that accounted for the full sweep of effects across health, economics, energy, pollution, etc.
The numbers IEA found were massive. Thanks to their efficiency investments, the energy use avoided by IEA’s member countries in 2010 was bigger than the demand met by any other single energy supply — including oil, coal or gas. The total amount of investment in energy efficiency across those countries as of 2011 was an estimated $300 billion, which is equal to their aggregate investments in coal, oil and natural gas.