Leaders discuss how they are using ambitious policies and incentives to harness the potential of energy efficiency
Energy efficiency is the only area that came even moderately close to the requisite pace of improvement over 2012-2014, but the rate of progress remains short of what is required to meet the 2030 objective. There are significant energy savings to be realized in industry, power generation, buildings and transport, with energy efficiency offering the biggest opportunity to make fast progress. However, to achieve these savings, global investment in energy efficiency needs to rise by a factor of 3-6 times the current level of investment.
Total Primary Energy Supply (TPES) peaked for high income countries in 2007, and has been in decline since 2012. The top twenty energy consuming economies globally – defined as high-impact countries – accounted for more than 75% of global TPES, with only four countries (China, the United States, India and Russia) accounting for nearly 50% of TPES. How rapidly these countries reduce their energy intensity has a major impact on global outcomes. 15 out of 20 high impact countries reduced their intensity between 2012 and 2014. Low Income Countries in Africa have the highest energy intensity worldwide (predominantly due to the use of traditional biomass).
Policies have been a key driver of the energy intensity gains, however, more needs to be done. The Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy (RISE) highlights the need to attach greater political and policy priority to energy efficiency, with most RISE countries having few or no policies in place and many only engaging at a relatively superficial level. More than three-quarters of countries score well on the legal framework for renewable energy, while only 9% do for their energy efficiency mandates and incentives for utilities. There are however, some success stories:
- Tunisia aims to reduce dependence on imported fuels through energy efficiency plans that target the public sector and demand side management. Mandatory efficiency standards and labeling systems are supported by stringent verification and enforcement and there are tax incentives, on-bill financing options, and World Bank supported credit lines for investments.
- China started introducing energy efficiency measures in the 1980s to minimize energy imports and now has the largest policy coverage of any country in the world, which focuses on mandatory standards and targets for industry.