A new report, the Energy Vision Update 2010 – Towards a More Energy Efficient World, by the World Economic Forum, found that energy efficiency can contribute most towards a new, green energy mix that is affordable. In fact, it concludes that efficiency is at the core of several energy related issues.
The report also finds that energy efficiency seems to be misunderstood in its crucial role and needs some sort of “rebranding” in order to launch its full potential. “Efficiency is often incorrectly associated with sacrifice,” noted Daniel Yergin, Chairman, CERA, Executive Vice-President, IHS, USA. But in reality efficiency means getting out more of the things we use by improving efficiency and productivity of energy use. It means that we preserve or even enhance our lifestyle but need less energy due to technical or behavioral innovation. Efficiency can therefore contribute “supply” while at the same time help reducing cost and emissions as well as improving energy security.
Modern and global challenges like growing energy demand, dependence on energy imports and environmental issues such as global warming have moved efficiency to the top of agendas for both governments and businesses. Yet companies and individuals tend to prefer products that they can “see, feel and touch”, and governments have an intresest in measures that generate jobs and technologies for export. The intangibility of efficiency therefore presents a challenge to be overcome in order to fully exploit its potential. It’s a way of thinking.
John Krenicki, Vice-Chairman, GE and President and Chief Executive Officer, GE Energy, USA, recommends to start improving efficiency with the foundation of electricity supply – the grid. Rather large quantities are lost through transmission and distribution of power from generation sources to load sources. In the U.S., those losses are around 6% of total energy generated, in India such losses can reach up to 25%! Distributing utilities will have to consider investment in technology that optimizes reactive power flows and system voltage, for example Integrated Volt/VAR Control (IVVC), a chance to reduce voltage by about 4. In the U.S., this measure alone could save up to 28 billion kWh a year, 16 million tons of CO2, by 2030. Transmission losses can by reduced to a similar extend through Flexible AC Transmission Systems (FACTS). In fact, , a useful way to think about the smart grid is a fusion of information technology with the transmission system to improve efficiency and productivity.
Gavin Newsom, Mayor of the City of San Francisco, USA insists that crises breeds opportunity! San Fransisco has been presented with an opportunity to be creative . They have responded with the development of innovative solutions that reduce energy use and emissions, save money, create jobs and protect human health in a city of 800,000 people that is the heart of California’s Bay Area. The development of the Power Savers Program has saved participating businesses more than US$ 3.5 million on their electricity bills by offering some 4,000 hard-to-reach owners of small businesses such as grocery stores, retail and restaurants free energy audits and coordinated lighting retrofit installation, as well as buy-downs of the cost of lighting retrofits.
On the commercial side, the Peak Energy Program provided rebates to small and medium-size businesses to install energy efficient lighting and equipment. They also offered on-going technical assistance and performance-based incentives. It was possible to reduce electricity by 18 MW, enough to power 18,000 homes.
The report concludes that information and knowledge about investment-grade energy efficiency positively influences consumer behavior and that technological innovation allows companies and policy-makers to create the distinctive “infrastructure” that is essential to reaching energy efficiency goals.
In reality, the findings of this report don’t surprise me – now it’s time for decision makers to accept and implement the solutions offered. I believe such policies will bring about perfect opportunities for substantial commercial and environmental progress.