The U.S. lags behind all but three of the world’s 12 largest economies in energy efficiency, according to new analyses. Out of a possible 100 points, no country scored higher than 67, and the average was just 54 points.
The United Kingdom is ranked No. 1 in a new energy efficiency ranking of the world’s 12 largest economies, while the United States ranked No. 9, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s (ACEEE) first International Energy Efficiency Scorecard, published last week.
Out of a possible 100 points, the U.S. received an overall score of 47, approximately 20 points behind the leader.
In the last decade, the U.S. has made “limited or little progress toward greater efficiency at the national level,” the report concludes.
The 12 major economies analyzed together represent over 78 percent of global gross domestic product, 63 percent of energy consumption and 62 percent of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions. The American nonprofit based the scores on 27 policy and performance metrics, including energy efficiency spending, residential and commercial building codes, energy intensity of the industrial sector, appliance and equipment standards, and investment in rail transit.
The ACEEE ranked the nations on energy efficiency as follows (in descending order):
- U.K. (67 points);
- Germany (66);
- Italy (63);
- Japan (62);
- France (60);
- Three-way tie between the European Union, Australia and China (56);
- U.S. (47);
- Brazil (41);
- Canada (37); and
- Russia (36).
Overall, none of the countries on the list are as energy efficient as they could be.
“While many countries achieved notable success, none received a perfect score in any category – proving that there is much that all countries can still learn from each other,” ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel said in an announcement of the findings. “For example, the United States scored relatively high in buildings, but was at the bottom of the list in transportation.”
The countries were scored across four groupings: national efforts, buildings, industry and transportation.
Out of a possible 25 points, the top-scoring countries in each group are:
- National policy: Germany (19 points);
- Buildings: China (23 points);
- Industry-related efforts: U.K. (18 points); and
- Transportation: Four-way tie between Italy, China, Germany and the U.K. (14 points).
Although the U.S. ranked in the middle on buildings (17 points) and industrial efficiency (14), it was last on transportation (5).
“This analysis also revealed that while some countries are clearly outperforming others, the biggest story is how poorly all these economies are doing overall,” the report explains.
“Fortunately, there is a lot countries can do to strengthen their economic competitiveness through improvements in energy efficiency,” according to Sara Hayes, author of the report and ACEEE senior researcher.
The ACEEE outlines several recommendations that could help the U.S. become more energy efficient, including:
- Congress should introduce a national energy savings target to complement existing state policies and raise the bar for all states. Most countries analyzed have such targets.
- Manufacturers should commit to continual improvement in energy efficiency by using Superior Energy Performance ISO 50001 (ISO 2011) and other voluntary platforms.
- States and the federal government should provide better financial incentives, such as tax credits, loans and loan-loss reserves, to spur private investment in energy efficiency.
- There should be greater investment in research and development (R&D) to create new technologies and practices that support energy efficiency across all sectors.
- Government should craft policies that encourage utilities to retire old, inefficient power plants and ensure that any new power plants are highly efficient.
- The electric grid infrastructure needs to be modernized to reduce line losses, and utilities should deploy high-efficiency distribution transformers and advanced “smart grid” techniques to reduce transmission and distribution losses.
- Federal and state governments should implement, enforce and regularly update existing appliance standards, and develop standards for additional products (e.g., pumps).
- The country should reconsider transportation pricing; increase funding for public transit, freight rail and non-motorized vehicles; and adopt higher standards for heavy-duty vehicle fuel efficiency, as well as proposed increases in CAFE standards.
“The U.K. and the leading economies of Europe are now well ahead of the United States when it comes to energy efficiency. This is significant because countries that use energy more efficiently require fewer resources to achieve the same goals, thus reducing costs, preserving valuable natural resources and creating jobs,” Nadel said. “Unfortunately, our results show that nowhere is the vast potential for improvements in energy efficiency being completely realized.”
|2012 ACEEE International Energy Efficiency Scorecard|
|by American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, July 2012|
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