Energy efficiency to decouple energy consumption from economic growth

The challenge
The global energy challenge is linked to the excessive consumption of energy used every day around the world. Energy is used to heat our homes, power our systems and as a vital part of producing the goods we own. This intense energy consumption contributes to the massive CO₂ footprint we produce as a modern society, but it also increases heating, electricity and production costs, thereby affecting personal, regional and national budgets.

 

 

The future
When looking at our future energy systems, it is equally important to address our energy consumption patterns as well as the kind of energy sources we use. As many people advocateEnergy efficiency makes it possible to decrease energy consumption, which has a positive impact on the climate, while at the same time reducing the marginal cost for heating, production and electricity.
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Increasing consumption patterns place greater pressure on earth’s resources, especially energy. In order to decrease the global CO₂ footprint, it is important to look at how energy consumption is linked to growth. Instead of producing more with the same amount of energy, energy efficiency measures can produce the same, but with less energy. By optimising the amount of energy used for heating in buildings, industry production and for powering our systems, it is possible to decouple energy consumption from economic growth. As a result, it will be possible to ensure a sustainable use of energy over the next 10, 50 and 100 years.

Experiences with energy saving measures show that especially heating and cooling of buildings and industries requires an intensive use of energy, representing approximately 50 percent of the total energy consumption in Europe. Consequently, an important enabler to energy savings is to look at buildings and ensure energy efficiency through better insulation, smart energy management systems and natural ventilation. The heating and cooling system also provide a high energy saving potential by collecting the energy supply in district energy systems, which supplies multiple households at the same time. Avoiding heat loss in this distribution and managing the peak load are also ways to increase energy efficiency. Moreover, if the energy supply is produced at a Combined Heat & Power (CHP) plant, the efficiency levels are above 90percent.

The potential of energy efficiency is often competing with the potential of renewable energy sources. Why should you invest in energy savings if the energy is clean? In many cases, it becomes a question of ‘either or’ as both energy efficiency and renewable energy requires larger capital investments in infrastructure. However, when looking at the future energy system, it is evident that renewable energy and energy efficiency can be seen as mutually supportive technologies, as efficiency within energy consumption allows for a better integration of clean energy sources in the energy system. By enabling a lower peak demand through energy savings, the potential energy sources that can be integrated on the supply side are broadened. Consequently, clean energy sources like wind, solar and hydro can become the primary source of energy.

The business case for energy efficient technologies can be deployed widely, as there is a correlation between using less energy and reducing costs. Introducing energy efficiency measures decrease the marginal cost of energy and with energy consumption representing up to 40 percent of the total production cost in industries, this constitutes a huge potential for businesses. An investment in energy efficiency is an investment in future energy savings guaranteed through optimised technologies and solutions. These savings will be visible on the company’s bottom line in terms of reduced production costs, but they will also have a positive impact for citizens and the climate.

Connect with us: Charlotte Gjedde, Project Manager, cmg@stateofgreen.com