Need to focus on implementing new energy efficiency policies

EiD has provided a few articles that have followed the publication of the latest energy efficiency report from the IEA. Kota Sriraj writes on The Pioneer website from India about the importance of building on the success to date and the need to accelerate the efforts.


Energy efficiency needs better policies

The rising concern at present is the fact that Governments are not coming up with the latest renewable energy policies fast enough. Unless rectified, this may pave the way for a future slowdown in the energy efficiency index

The global energy efficiency gains so far have helped nations maintain energy security besides planning the utilisation of scarce resources in an efficient manner. Countries across the world have been able to build in energy efficiency parameters that were applied in the form of policies and regulations that eventually helped reach critical balance between economic growth and consumption of natural resources. However, according to the latest report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the recent acceleration in global energy efficiency gains risks slowing down if the Governments do not maintain their focus on implementing new efficiency policies that can lend continuity to the earlier efforts and progress.

According to the Energy Efficiency 2017 report, the IEA estimates that the global energy intensity — the energy used per unit of gross domestic product — fell by 1.8 per cent in 2016, a sign that the global economy generated more value from its energy.

Improvement seen in 2016 confirms the strong progress seen since the start of the decade. But this progress masks some concerning policy trends. While efficiency codes and standards grew to cover about 32 per cent of global energy use in 2016, nearly all of the increase in coverage came from existing policies and over two-thirds of global energy use is still not covered.

The IEA’s Efficiency Policy Progress Index also reveals that the strength of policies increased at their slowest rate in recent years and rates of progress vary significantly across countries.

In the backdrop of falling energy prices, strong efficiency gains were visible up to 2016 but these progresses were made on erstwhile policies of the countries that have neither seen revision nor a major revamp to match the changing global energy scenario.

The rising concern now is the fact that Governments are not coming up with renewed and latest energy policies fast enough. Unless rectified, this may pave the way for a major future slowdown in energy efficiency index. This issue is all the more important when one considers the impact that energy efficiency has on the global energy system in the form of bolstering energy security, reducing energy spending and helping the environment.

The energy efficiency environment is driven in various countries at fluctuating rates of progress and this is mainly due to inconsistent policy planning and implementation. An overt dependence on pre-existing policies is the main reason for this. However, there is plenty of scope for further policy action.

Over 68 per cent of the world’s energy use is not covered by efficiency codes or standards. Only four countries regulate the energy efficiency of trucks, a major source of fuel demand as well as emissions growth, and space-cooling demand is rising fastest in countries with the weakest air conditioning efficiency regulation. Given these areas, countries can quickly ramp up policies for these sectors and put in place energy efficiency codes and reap both economic and environmental benefits.

Technological innovation is also fast emerging as the preferred tool of creating new opportunities for progress on energy efficiency. Digitalisation is beginning to have a significant impact on the energy sector and energy efficiency is emerging as a key arena for innovation. It is creating exciting new opportunities for integrated solutions where efficiency and renewable energy work together to deliver clean energy outcomes at the lowest cost.

As business models adapt to the digital energy world, so too must policy. It is imperative for countries to not only apply energy efficiency standards to new areas but also increasingly adopt technology to do so.

Given all these developments that are happening on a fast pace, India is yet to embark on a dedicated and methodical journey of its own on energy efficiency. The importance of energy efficiency was relegated to back seat by all previous regimes and it only under the current NDA Government that India became a full-fledged member of the International Energy Agency (IEA) and that too in March 2017.

In India’s case one can say better late than never, since IEA platform provides unparalleled access to case studies, success stories and an opportunity to not only closely examine the current global benchmarks on energy efficiency set by countries, but also to hopefully surpass them in near future.

The IEA platform will help India to collaborate for energy efficient technology, undertake research and development for envisaging energy policies that are growth oriented yet environment friendly and also improve India’s image in the global arena as a responsible consumer of natural resources.

Energy efficiency and improved energy intensity has been the biggest factor behind the recent flattening of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The need of the hour is for stronger action backed by updated and renewed polices so that the current trend of energy efficiency can be continued.

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