Need for Energy Efficiency

The thinking in developing countries and transition economies on energy production and utilization is mostly on the pattern prevailing in Europe and North America. Many countries adapted a nearly identical path of large scale, supply-side-oriented energy development. However, despite decades of adherence to this path, these countries have not met even the basic energy needs of the majority of their people. In such circumstances, a different paradigm of energy development needs to be developed. This approach goes beyond the traditional supply side one, using energy as a catalytic force to bring about both social and economic development. This type of development embraces the following principles: (a) development oriented, (b) service based, (c) endogenous, (d) self-reliant, (e) environmentally sound and (f) socially acceptable. To achieve these goals, an efficient utilization of resources is necessary. This is a holistic view of how to provide the energy need of all without destroying ecological balance. This approach is not merely looking for consumption growth, but for consumer value and human development.

The paradigm with emphasis on EE could be turned into an engine of growth that truly enhances livelihood levels of people at the lowest end of the economic ladder. The driving concern of this paradigm has been

27 Goldemberg et al. 1988.

28 There is no intrinsic coupling between the EE approach and the livelihood levels of people or a catalytic force to social development. However, it fits well into such a development model.

that the human dimensions of energy are as important as the technological. This approach is rooted in the conviction that energy needs cannot be met in isolation from other human problems. The emphasis must be on energy services—not merely on energy consumption or supply as an end in itself. The focus has to be on energy services that improve the Human Development Index directly, such as cooking, safe water, lighting, transportation, as well as indirectly via employment and income generation. These needs have to be met through a combination of means using renewable resources, efficiency improvements and new technologies that can improve economic activities and at the same time reduce the risk of environmental degradation.

Although the 1990s saw a re-emergence of EE as an important policy goal, the relentless growth of economic activity and population still dominated the public agenda, causing a multiple increase in aggregate demand for energy resources. An increasing share of energy consumption is attributable to developing countries, including such densely populated countries as India and China.30 If we project these trends into the future, the world could experience a shortage of finite and non-renewable fossil fuels by the first half of the 21st century.

The energy sources that have sustained the civilized society for so long—fossil fuels—are becoming increasingly scarce. A much debated question is—what will happen when deposits run out? Judging by today's level of energy consumption and technological possibilities, the world's coal deposits may last a few centuries, natural gas for about 70 years and oil for more than 40 years.31 However, there is also an option of exploring other possibilities. There is a possibility of secondary and tertiary recovery, which can vastly increase oil recovery from oilfields. There are gigantic supplies of methane in geo-pressurized zones and clathrates. There are also tar sands, oil shales and deep-in-site gasification of fossil fuels. The mineral deposits may never be fully depleted if technological progress and changing energy structures make fossil fuels obsolete before the stocks run out. One should also take into account the self-regulation of the oil industry: if there are only 40 years of assured reserves, there will be a cut down on exploration, and so less new reserves will be found. Thus, the main question may not be about the time of depletion of coal, oil, and gas stocks, but about when these energy sources will be substituted by a combination of alternative energy

29 Reddy 2002.

30 ESCAP 2008.

31 Torkunov 2001.

sources, efficient technologies, lightweight materials and other advanced technologies.

An energy revolution driven by concerns about economics, sustainable development, and energy security has been called for by many experts since 1970. However, only in recent times the installation of EETs has become an urgent task for industrial organizations and governments alike. In many countries this process has barely begun because of the absence of technological know-how and political will. The reasons for not promoting EE may become quite sensible, if one takes election within the next few years as the main government perspective and shareholder value as those of energy companies. There is neither political will nor industrial initiatives to develop technologies and know-how, that cannot be sold on a large scale. However, for those who want to take long-term responsibility, and to look for the future of humanity, these short-term optimizations are not sufficient. Even three decades after the first oil crisis the vast potential for EE and savings still remains to be harnessed.

To achieve the goal of energy security and sustainability, the involvement of various stakeholders such as end users and many intermediate and down-stream institutions in setting up integrated energy systems is essential. This requires long-term planning, stable government and managerial skills. Usually an EE approach is not always the cheaper option. The advantages accrue over the much longer term: lesser dependency on foreign energy imports or local fossil resources; lower impact on the environment, and so on. But those advantages do not help the short-term development. On the contrary, the classical supply side approach is more flexible with standard equipment and widely-known technologies. Hence it is important that we should be much more careful in designing the EE system.

To succeed in this approach, there is an urgent need for a paradigm shift in policies to support EE and renewable energy initiatives aided by appropriate incentives, standards and investments geared towards spurring private investment. This shift in energy policy should be rapid and sustained if it is not to run out of steam and give way to the previous status quo.32 In the following sections, each of these factors will be considered in more detail.

32 The evolution of human needs and the services that require energy, such as lighting, cooking, transport, or motive power have to be analyzed along with demographic and social trends. For a sustainable energy strategy, policy and planning should be thought of as part of a global policy involving land use, infrastructure, urbanization, lifestyles and region.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment