Global efficency investment tops $220bn a year

Global investment in energy efficiency is now worth $221bn annually. This is two-thirds greater than investment levels in conventional power generation, according to the International Energy Agency’s 2016 annual market report on energy efficiency.

In an upbeat summary of worldwide trends, the Paris-based agency records a very positive picture for energy saving, even at a time when international fuel prices-driven by oil- have been falling dramatically. “Energy efficiency is the only energy resource possessed by all countries,” it says.

In his foreword, IEA director, Fatih Birol, stresses “all of the core imperatives of energy policy -reducing bills, decarbonisation, air pollution, energy security, and access to fuel- are made more attainable if led by strong energy efficiency policy

The IEA states that “public policy has been the key driver of efficiency improvements.” In particular, the Agency stresses the progress made via the adoption of purposeful codes and standards, whether for buildings or for products. Even so, universal adoption of even average standards could up efficiency levels by 30 per cent. Following best practice could increase effectiveness by between 50 and 60 per cent.

Birol adds: “Despite lower energy prices, progress is being made, but not fast enough.” He stresses that ”strong, well-designed policy can mitigate the threat” of limited price signals.

Total oil consumption from national minimum vehicle fuel economy standards on light-duty vehicles is 2.3m barrels per day -equivalent to 2.5 per cent of global oil supply - or the entire oil production of Brazil. There are no such minimum standards operational in the UK.

In Europe as a whole, the IEA estimate that every person is saving around $600 each year as a result of regulations designed to save energy. These include national building regulations, as well as the A to G eco-design directive standards for products agreed within the European Union, but likely to come to an end in the UK post-Brexit.

The market for energy services is currently worth $24bn. This market is dominated by China and the USA. In contrast Europe’s market share is only 11 per cent, worth just $2.7bn, and has not increased for several years.

Birol concludes: “There is no realistic, or affordable, energy development strategy that is not led by energy efficiency. For the IEA, it is the first fuel.”

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