I read a great editorial a while back in Distributed Energy by Elizabeth Cutright.
She highlights how energy efficiency is the way ahead as far as change energy use for environmental, energy security and energy supply reasons.
As she reports – it is what people want to happening compared to new or old forms of power generation. New power stations are needed but the impact of funding into energy efficiency is paramount.
Here is the bulk of the article:
Lately, it seems as if when the conversation turns to developing a modern national energy policy, the smart grid and renewable energy get all the attention—and with good reason, since both topics promise a future full of intelligent energy management and freedom from fossil fuels.
The smart grid and renewables capture our imagination, but it’s energy efficiency that’s affecting real change, right now—and the public (and investors) have taken notice. As far as I’m concerned, this new emphasis on—and interest in—efficiency is a longtime coming.
There are a couple of concrete indications that energy efficiency is gaining credibility and becoming the popular go-to solution for energy resource management. First off, investors are pushing money into a slew of energy efficiency opportunities—from hybrid cars to energy management systems, and everything in-between.
According to Peachtree Green, a New York-based investment bank that provides expert advice on “valuing technology assets,” 2009 was the year energy efficiency came into its own, ranking second after wind, in terms of 2009 transaction value,
In fact, Peachtree Green reports that, even while the overall green tech sector saw a 4.1% drop in value, energy efficiency saw an increase in value from $164 million to $1.3 billion. The report states that, “The clear break-out category was Energy Efficiency, with a more-than-sevenfold increase in reported transaction value for 2009.”
Energy efficiency is also winning hearts and minds in the court of public option. According to a recent poll conducted by the Environmental Defense Fund and NRG energy, respondents indicate that they are most interested in energy efficiency: 47% in particular stating that the number one environmental issue that companies should focus on is energy efficiency. With the future of government funding on shaky ground, public support of energy efficiency projects and protocols could make all the difference.
Historically, the states have often promoted energy efficiency—with great success. In fact, as of 2009, 19 states have adopted a myriad of energy efficiency strategies. In California, for example, a program that began 30 years ago has morphed from simply requiring energy-efficient appliances into an extensive energy-conscious mandate that now includes renewable energy and other smart energy technologies. Meanwhile, on the East Coast, the National Grid—an energy delivery company for Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island—has, over the last 20 years, helped 5 million of its customers reduce energy use and save up to $3.8 billion.
As I’ve stated before, distributed energy is the ultimate form of energy efficiency and reliability.
But in the end, it’s a “boots on the ground” efficiency effort that will make the difference. As Peachtree explains,
“The reason many utilities and energy companies are undertaking certain projects, carbon capture being the best example, is because the government is financing these initiatives. Once the money dries up, many of these projects will be shelved.”
But if the public (i.e., voters) demands funding for energy efficiency, it can make all the difference. Public outreach is one of the best ways to engage and encourage communities to become energy efficiency stakeholders.