IEA Report Highlights Need for Energy Efficiency
THE urgent need for improvement in energy efficiency globally has been dramatically highlighted by the International Energy Agency's (IEA) annual report released Wednesday.
The rapid expansion of renewable technologies is one of the few bright spots in an otherwise bleak assessment of global progress towards low-carbon energy, the IEA said in an annual report to the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM).
“The drive to clean up the world’s energy system has stalled,” IEA Executive Director, Maria van der Hoeven told the CEM, which brings together ministers representing countries responsible for four-fifths of global greenhouse-gas emissions. “Despite much talk by world leaders, and despite a boom in renewable energy over the last decade, the average unit of energy produced today is basically as dirty as it was 20 years ago.”
To illustrate this inertia, the report, Tracking Clean Energy Progress, introduces the Energy Sector Carbon Intensity Index (ESCII), which shows how much carbon dioxide is emitted, on average, to provide a given unit of energy. The ESCII stood at 2.39 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of oil equivalent (tCO2/toe) in 1990, and had barely moved by 2010, holding at 2.37 tCO2/toe.
“As world temperatures creep higher due to ever-increasing emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide – two thirds of which come from the energy sector – the overall lack of progress should serve as a wake-up call,” Van der Hoeven said. “We cannot afford another 20 years of listlessness. We need a rapid expansion in low-carbon energy technologies if we are to avoid a potentially catastrophic warming of the planet, but we must also accelerate the shift away from dirtier fossil fuels.”
While noting that progress remains alarmingly slow for a majority of technologies that could save energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions consistent with international climate goals, the IEA’s report did find some recent, positive signs globally as far as renewable energy is concerned.
From 2011 to 2012, solar photovoltaic and wind technologies grew by an impressive 42 percent and 19 percent, respectively, despite ongoing economic and policy turbulence in the sector.
Van der Hoeven emphasized the ongoing, significant potential of energy efficiency measures, in a world that continues to rely heavily on fossil fuels.
The report gives policy recommendations, technology by technology. At the highest level, it stresses that the true cost of energy must be reflected in consumer prices, through carbon pricing and the phase-out of fossil-fuel subsidies. More stringent and broader energy performance standards, building codes and fuel economy standards can drive energy efficiency.
“The CEM governments represent 4.1 billion people and three-quarters of global GDP,” Van der Hoeven said. “Together, they have the power to set the clean energy transition in motion, and now it is time for them to use it.”
Image supplied by IEA.
Friday 19th April 2013