There have been two strategies used to reduce energy consumption in times of fuel deficiency: energy conservation and energy efficiency. Both terms have different meanings; energy conservation usually means reduced energy consumption through the lower quality of energy services. However, energy efficiency means getting the most out of every unit of energy produced or consumed. It is mainly a technological process caused by stock turnover where more efficient technologies replace old equipment.
Why energy efficiency?
More efficient solutions are expected to perform as well as, if not better than, those they replace. Improving energy efficiency will lead to lower national energy consumption and will consequently reduce carbon emissions, reduce demand for energy imports, and lower household and economy-wide level costs. Improving energy efficiency is cheaper than implementing renewable energy solutions and it is often the most immediate way to reduce fossil fuels. The additional benefit of investing in energy efficient solutions means a lower use of natural resources compared to expanding the energy production capacity either through fossil or even through renewable sources. Also, the average cost of saving a KW of energy is significantly lower than the cost of producing it.
Energy efficiency opportunities
Every sector has enormous opportunities for efficiency improvements, whether it is buildings, transportation, or industry.
1. Building efficiency
Generally, refers to the productive usage of resources like energy and water to provide heating, cooling, lighting, and run appliances and equipment installed or used in the building. Such efficient building are environmentally cautious concerning materials selection, water use, and waste management. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), low-carbon and energy-efficient heating, cooling, building shells, and lighting, coupled with system control technologies for buildings, have the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 5.8 Gt by 2050, lowering emissions by 83% below business-as-usual for the buildings sector.
2. Transportation efficiency
It enables the mobility of people and goods while reducing time, cost, and energy and offers to reduce the massive demand for oil and fuel. IEA estimates that advanced technologies and alternative fuels (hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles, and fuel-cell vehicles) can reduce the energy intensity of transport by 20 to 40% by 2050. Nowadays, efficient transportation is encouraged on three levels: system efficiency, travel efficiency, and vehicle efficiency. Three fundamental strategies to follow to improve energy efficiency for these levels:
- Avoiding increased transport activity and reducing the current demand for transport.
- Shifting demand to more efficient modes of transportation.
- Increase the number of electric cars.
3. Industrial Energy Efficiency
This means the energy efficiency derived from commercial technologies and projects to improve energy efficiency or to produce or transfer electric power and heat, including electric motor efficiency improvements, demand response, direct or indirect combined heat and power, and waste heat recovery. Industrial energy efficiency is divided into three groups:
- Industrial end-use energy efficiency includes implementing a broad range of energy-efficient technologies and management practices in the manufacturing sector to reduce energy consumption.
- Industrial demand response e includes changes that might involve a reduction in electricity demand, a shift in need, or even an increase in the electricity demand.
- Industrial combined heat and power (CHP), also known as cogeneration, is the concurrent production of electric and thermal energy from a single fuel source. The CHP system has both types of energy; electricity and thermal energy (e.g., hot water or steam).
Generally, the combination of adopting new technologies and applying the needed expertise can help companies achieve energy efficiency to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.