Energy Efficiency and Energy Savings

Summary——————–Overview

To phase out fossil fuels from the energy mix as fast as possible, energy consumption must decrease to allow renewables to take over quickly. Fossil fuels will otherwise continue to occupy a significant share of the energy mix for decades to come.

Unfortunately, energy demand is projected to be 30% higher in 2040 than it was in 2017. To limit the impacts of this increase, governments and companies around the world are betting on energy efficiency.

Energy Production Efficiency

Fossil Fuels

Extraction efficiency describes how much energy is extracted from a fuel source, compared to how much was consumed during the extraction process.

Collecting easily accessible oil, gas, or coal leads to high extraction efficiency, since little input energy is needed to retrieve the fossil fuel. As easily accessible sources dry out however, more energy is required to retrieve fossil fuels, which lowers extraction efficiency. This often leads to higher energy costs, which ensures that fossil fuel extraction remains profitable. With this mechanism and in the absence of a plan to phase out fossil fuels, millions of barrels of oil could continue to be extracted daily for many decades.

The drawback of this mechanism, aside from the obvious environmental consequences, is that fossil fuel energy costs increase considerably over time. And that increases the cost of products that either contain fossil fuels, or rely on fossil fuels at any point during their life-cycle.

Renewables

For renewables, efficiency and costs have improved considerably for many technologies. Increased investments into research and development can lead to further advances in the renewable energy sector. However, current technologies are already advanced enough, according to the IPCC. Integrating renewables and phasing out fossil fuels is no longer a technological challenge, it depends solely on political will.

That being said, efficiency gains for renewables have often been the result of more advanced materials being used, like rare earth metals. Appropriate measures such as reducing consumption and increasing recycling efficiency are needed to ensure renewables phase out fossil fuels quickly and with minimized drawbacks.

Energy Consumption Efficiency

Efficiency is also important after the energy has been produced. Carpooling, adjusting thermostats, and opting for second-hand products are just a few of the many solutions that can help individuals reduce energy consumption while maintaining good quality of life levels. However, systemic issues require systemic solutions. Individualized solutions such as those listed above have very minimal effects at the global scale. Improving policies is far more effective and will be crucial to quickly affect large scale change.

Nonetheless, individuals will play an important role in mitigating the environmental crisis and accelerating the transition to more sustainable societies. To find out how, check out CyclopediApp’s Main Sections.

The Rebound Effect

Energy efficiency doesn’t always lead to energy savings. The ‘rebound effect’ occurs when an efficiency gain enables higher consumption. Numerous examples exist, like fuel-efficient cars or energy-efficient lighting that both allow greater usage without increasing costs.

The rebound effect is welcome when it allows low-income individuals to increase their quality of life without increasing costs. After all, the transition to a more sustainable world is dependent on social justice. In other instances however, the rebound effect must be minimized to phase out fossil fuels as fast as possible. Energy savings are needed – not just energy efficiency.