A new report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), really jumped out at us, not just because it points to a paradigm shift in the way we think about energy efficiency, but because of the enormous potential that exists in this area. A few highlights from the report illustrate what we mean:
- "System efficiency opportunities produce energy savings that dwarf component-based efficiency improvements by an order of magnitude"
- "If homeowners and businesses were to take advantage of currently available information and communications technologies that enable system efficiencies, the United States could reduce its energy use by about 12-22% and realize tens or hundreds of billions of dollars in energy savings and productivity gains"
- "A 2007 report by American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research found that widespread adoption of high-speed Internet and related services could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1 billion tons over ten years (similar to the above 2008 WWF report), the equivalent of nearly 1.5 million barrels of oil per day.
- The bottom line, the report concludes, is that "America now has a major new source of energy that could rival the contribution made to the economy by natural gas, coal, and nuclear power."
- The key to understanding the rise of “intelligent efficiency” is to stop thinking about energy efficiency simply in terms of individual devices (e.g., autos or refrigerators) and to start thinking about it in terms of complex systems (e.g., entire cities, transportation systems, and other networks) connected through Internet and computer technologies.
The bottom line conclusion is powerful and exciting: "The promise of intelligent efficiency is great, offering a path to achieving major, long-term energy reductions, increased productivity, and job creation in every region of the country...[it] represents a pivotal opportunity in a time of constrained resources to step up our energy efficiency game, and to lay the foundation of a thriving U.S. economy." We strongly recommend that everyone - particularly policymakers - read this fascinating report.