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Figure 4.7 Efficiency of US vehicle fleet (Source: EIA, 1997).

Already on the road are hybrid fuel cell models by Honda and Toyota. Toyota's "Prius" (~66mpg) is priced at about $18k (although this is a subsidized cost) and has sold over 15000 cars in Japan (NPR, 1999). But because of the large, lumpy investments in plant required, the traditional ten-year lifetime of cars, and gradual public acceptance, it will likely take two to three more decades before fuel cell cars dominate the fleet (Ausubel et al., 1998). In addition, there are structural costs associated with such a change in the technological base, such as the restructuring of the automobile servicing industry. Even more difficult would be the provision of enough natural gas or hydrogen in the right places to allow 200 million fuel cell vehicles to operate.

Aside from technological breakthroughs, there are other possible solutions. Different societal norms in Europe in terms of living closer to work (which generally means closer to city centers), the greater availability of public transport and higher taxation on gasoline, have led to the continent having smaller, lighter automobiles that are generally one-third less fuel-intensive than present US vehicles. This is perhaps the clearest example of social and economic dynamics locking an activity into a certain level of energy use. This effect has also been driven by a history of low fuel prices in the US and social acceptance of higher prices in Europe. It is also one of the most intractable problems when considering the inertia of the US population to abandon their love affair with the internal combustion engine.

Space cooling

Space cooling

Ventilation

Lighting

Other 14%

Office equipment 2%

Figure 4.8 Percentage of consumption by end-use in buildings in 1995 (Source: EIA,

Ventilation

Space heating 28%

Lighting

Other 14%

Water heating 11%

Office equipment 2%

Figure 4.8 Percentage of consumption by end-use in buildings in 1995 (Source: EIA,

Although typically accounting for up to a third of energy use in developed countries, energy use occurs over many separate activities, as is shown in Figure 4.8. It is notoriously difficult to successfully implement energy efficient technologies into the buildings sector. This is because energy use in commercial buildings is usually only a few percent of operating costs and is thus a discretionary investment. From a user perspective, tenants normally only live or work in a building for less than five years, thus greatly limiting their incentive to improve their buildings. Owners and builders of homes market their properties far more on upfront costs rather than long-term living expenses. In addition, the most inefficient (and coldest) homes are often lived in by the poor who have the fewest resources to address this issue. Finally, legislative efforts to improve the building stock are hampered by overlapping building regulations at different levels of government, a lack of information and the long (50 years) capital turnover of the building stock.

Despite these difficulties, there have been some efficiency success stories. Twenty years ago, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory launched a program to develop advanced, spectrally-selective coatings for windows. The program,

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