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An excellent report on energy efficiency

By Joe Romm on September 29, 2008 at 6:23 pm

"An excellent report on energy efficiency"

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The American Physical Society has released a major study on the crucial role that energy efficiency must play to achieving energy security and reducing global warming.

According to the APS, Energy Future: Think Efficiencydiffers from other energy efficiency reports in its emphasis on scientific and technological options and analysis.” The report has three overarching conclusions:

  • Improving energy efficiency is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to significantly reduce the nation’s demand for imported oil and its greenhouse gas emissions without causing any loss of comfort or convenience.
  • Numerous technologies exist today to increase the efficiency of U.S. vehicles and buildings in ways that could save individual consumers money. But without federal policies to overcome market barriers, the U.S. is unlikely to capitalize on these technologies.
  • Far greater increases in energy efficiency are available in the future, but realizing these potential gains will require a larger and better focused federal research and development program on energy efficiency than exists today.

The two biggest quantitative conclusions concern the transportation and building sectors:

The report concludes that the average light-duty vehicle should have a mileage of at least 50 miles per gallon by 2030 and that widespread construction of homes that require no fossil fuels should be possible in most areas by 2020.

The Study Group Members include some of the country’s leading experts on energy efficiency and clean energy:

  • David Goldstein, Natural Resources Defense Council
  • David Greene, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Dan Kammen, University of California, Berkeley
  • Mark Levine, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • Maxine Savitz, The Advisory Group

If I have any criticism, it is that the report does not appear to discuss the enormous savings possible from energy efficiency in industry (as Dow has shown) or power generation (i. e. Recycled Energy).

The bottom line, though, is that this is an excellent report for those who want a thorough introduction to energy efficiency in buildings and transportation.

Another resource is my ongoing series on energy efficiency:

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4 Responses to An excellent report on energy efficiency

  1. Robert says:

    In the UK loft insulation etc. is subject to building regulations. A new house must have 270mm of loft insulation. Excuse my ignorance, but is the US market regulated in the same way?

    We had full wall cavity and 270mm loft insulation installed a couple of years ago. It makes a huge difference and pays back in less than 2 years. People should do it for simple economic reasons.

  2. charlie says:

    I my experience, houses in Europe don’t have ANY insulation compared to the northern united states — mostly because it doesn’t get as cold.

    Joe, have you written much on microturbines and their potential for co-generation?

    [JR: Yes, I have written a couple of Journal articles on that and microcogen is part of a chapter in The Hype about Hydrogen. Microturbines never really panned out because they are electrical efficiency is too low. You have to be able to use pretty much all of their heat 42/7 year-round -- which very few buildings or factories can -- to get even a small carbon benefit.]

  3. Dano says:

    Excuse my ignorance, but is the US market regulated in the same way?

    States can choose to adopt the International/Uniform Building Code (IBC/UBC) if they wish, and their development regulations will adhere to whatever is adopted. I used to practice in WA State and they used the IBC, which was e.g. IIRC R-19 walls and R-28 (?) ceiling insulation. IIRC CA state had requirements for solar gain through windows, etc.

    Best,

    D

  4. charlesH says:

    “Numerous technologies exist today to increase the efficiency of U.S. vehicles and buildings in ways that could save individual consumers money. But without federal policies to overcome market barriers, the U.S. is unlikely to capitalize on these technologies.”

    Help me out here. Someone give me an example of a technology that would save consumers money if it were not for “market barriers”. I can believe ignorance but market barriers?