Sunday, March 17, 2013

Energy efficiency—low hanging fruit?

I have been flashing charts like the one below in front of anyone I could get to look since the 1980s.  One time someone said with a completely straight face, "Well the Japanese and Germans have proved that you can have a highly industrialized economy that is much more energy efficient.  Their example proves that when it comes to efficiency, there is a lot of low-hanging fruit in the USA economy."

Well, NO!  The difference between USA and someplace like Germany is that the Germans have spent every day for the last century worrying about energy efficiency.  This isn't about replacing a few light bulbs.  This is about building to extremely high efficiency standards, employing strict land-use laws to achieve high urban densities, investing in mass transit, etc.  There are obvious ways to achieve German energy efficiencies but none that suggest picking some low-hanging fruit (unless you consider rebuilding our cities to triple population densities or getting folks to use public transportation for at least half their trips "low-hanging.")  Far from easy, such a project could easy require several decades and that is assuming everyone was on board.

Obama Wishes America Would Be More Like Germany (When It Comes To Energy)

Rob Wile | Mar. 15, 2013

Everyone knows America's first girlfriend was France, who helped us beat up the British.

But lots of people forget that we also had a side-thing going with Germany at our founding, in the form of General Von Steuben.

And a new White House report on the challenges facing America in balancing energy and climate concerns shows the Executive branch has fallen in love with Germany all over again.

It starts out with the following chart comparing energy intensities — the amount of energy needed to generate a dollar’s worth of goods and services — among developed countries:

White House

We're doing okay, the White House says.

But Germany is looking pretty good these days, thanks to their huge ... building codes:
U.S. energy intensity is still one-third higher than that of part because Germany... [has] automobiles and building codes that are more energy efficient, as well as smaller homes set more densely.
But that's not even the best thing Germany has going for it. Even as they use less fuel, they're making way more stuff than we are:
In neither Germany nor Japan is the lower energy intensity due to having less manufacturing than the United States. In fact, manufacturing (an energy-intensive sector) is almost twice as high as a share of GDP in Germany as it is in the United States.
The White House ends up concluding that the best strategy to improve energy intensity and reduce CO2 emissions is to focus on services with inelastic demand. That why, the report argues, short-term price increases can more predictably yield longer-term energy savings. more

1 comment:

  1. Well, being an American I really wish this to be true. Thank you for highlighting this important issue. India is also closely following Germany in the long run.
    energy efficiency products