It is rather peculiar that we do not get our energy priorities in the right order; it would make sense to attend to the most affordable, accessible energy source, then move on to the next. Instead, almost all our efforts are directed towards more production of fossil fuels, while we neglect the cheapest cleaner source of them all; energy efficiency.
In a world of scarce depleting fossil fuel resources, where population grows by about the size of the U.S.A. every year, we have no choice but energy conservation, energy efficiency and commercialization of renewable sources. It is not a question of “whether”, but rather a question of “when”.
Assuming continuation of the same world energy consumption trend (1.6% annual increase), it is expected that consumption would drastically increase by two thirds in 2030 (≈16.5Billion T.O.E). On the investment side, the funds available for investing in energy by then would not be sufficient to meet the potential demand, when more than seven Saudi Arabia(s) would be needed to satisfy that demand.
Considering different energy sources, energy efficiency turns out to be the cheapest source of energy supply after energy conservation. Not only does energy efficiency expand the lifetime of existing fossil resources but also reduce the need for energy imports. From an investor perspective, short payback periods (3 months to 2.5 years) and opportunities of green energy trade and green certificates (CDMs) would be a tempting drive. Pollution reduction and mitigation of greenhouse gases are also among the important factors supporting the adoption of energy efficiency. Even with the increasing role of renewable energy, the need for energy efficiency still exists, as global emissions of carbon dioxide are expected to grow slightly faster than energy demand throughout the coming decades.
From Table (1) below – Energy Efficiency Savings (1995-2004) – we can see that the countries which experienced the most benefits from energy efficiency were the U.S.A. and China.
Table 1: Energy Efficiency Savings Over [1995- 2004]
Energy Quantity Savings
Economic Value of CO2 Savings
Billion Ton of CO2
Everyone can easily relay why the USA supercede other countries, but what’s really impressive, is China’s ability to save around 1.5 trillion US$ from energy efficiency on the economic and environmental levels collectively. China, by effectively implementing energy efficiency programs, succeeded to make impressive achievements in energy efficiency while at the same time experiencing the world’s fastest economic growth.
For developing countries, energy efficiency is not an alternative any more, instead it is a Must given the fact that developing countries will represent 75% of the world future demand increase of energy.
Despite the above a number of challenges that hinder the effective implementation of energy efficiency programs pose a number of questions that still need to be addressed. On the top of these challenges are lack of government incentives, existence of no price differentials between different energy sources, and the difficulty of removing subsidies on petroleum products or applying a pricing structure based on actual energy cost.
Other challenges include; lack of awareness to most energy efficient tools and technologies as well as the slow pace of technology transfer to those developing countries which raise many questions as to who is going to fund energy infrastructure and technology investments relevant for effective energy efficiency implementation.
Pursuing the challenge Egypt can save around $370 million or 1.5 million metric ton annually by only improving its energy efficiency by 3% annually. One way to achieve this is through enhancing the House Keeping Programs (which is the first level of any energy efficiency program).
Proven by numbers, let us all seize the opportunity of energy efficiency aiming at a cleaner and greener world of prolonged energy supply.
1 Arab Oil and Gas Directory-2006
2 Based on 2005/06 Egypt’s energy consumption of 50 million Metric tons.
- Energy Information Administration Studies
- International Petroleum Encyclopedia, 2005.
- “Energy & Climate Change: The Way Forward” 2007, WEC Papers.
- Ministry of Energy & Mineral Resources Annual Report, 2005, Jordan.
- Egypt Energy Report 2006, PICO Energy R&A.