Gains in the rate of energy efficiency savings are sustainable in future, a study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has found.

The study by Steven Nadel (pictured), the ACEEE’s executive director, found that energy efficiency improvements have reduced energy use by 0.6% to 2% per year since 1980 in large energy-consuming countries such as India, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, the UK, Canada, Germany, South Africa, Taiwan, the US and, more recently, China.

The study takes into consideration the ‘rebound effect’, whereby businesses and consumers can negate energy efficiency gains by increasing their energy use, in order to estimate the global potential for energy efficiency savings to 2040-2050. According to the study, the rebound effect can affect energy efficiency gains by as much as 20%-30%.

Nadel estimated that, in future, compound energy efficiency savings of 1%–1.4% per year ‘appear to be feasible’, while savings of 2%–2.6% per year ‘might be possible, but have been infrequently demonstrated in practice’.

‘At a minimum,’ he said, ‘it appears that recent rates of energy efficiency improvement can be sustained for many years. Some studies suggest that even higher rates of energy efficiency improvement might be achieved, but for the most part, these levels of savings have not yet been achieved in practice.

‘Still,’ he noted, ‘given objectives of fostering economic growth and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, striving to take efficiency improvements to a new level is a worthy objective.’

The full paper is available here

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