Energy Efficiency – The world’s invisible powerhouse


VERONA, Italy, 8 October – The global energy efficiency market is worth at least USD 310 billion a year and growing, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency that confirms the position of energy efficiency as the world’s “first fuel”.

The report also finds that energy efficiency finance is becoming an established market segment, with innovative new products and standards helping to overcome risks and bringing stability and confidence to the market.

“Energy efficiency is the invisible powerhouse in IEA countries and beyond, working behind the scenes to improve our energy security, lower our energy bills and move us closer to reaching our climate goals,” IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said at the Verona Efficiency Summit as she launched the IEA’s Energy Efficiency Market Report 2014.

The annual report, now in its second year, shows that investments in energy efficiency are helping to improve energy productivity – the amount of energy needed to produce a unit of GDP. Among 18 IEA countries evaluated in the report, total final energy consumption was down 5% between 2001 and 2011 primarily as a result of investments in energy efficiency.

Cumulative avoided energy consumption over the decade from energy efficiency in IEA countries was 1,732 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) – larger than the energy demand of the United States and Germany combined in 2012.

EEMR 2014 highlights

 In 2011, energy savings from continued improvement in the energy efficiency of 11 IEA member countries equalled 1 337 million tonnes of oil-equivalent (Mtoe). This level exceeded the total final consumption (TFC) from any single fuel source in these countries, and was larger than the total 2011 TFC for the European Union from all energy sources combined. Energy efficiency savings in 11 IEA member countries were effectively displacing a continent’s energy demand.1

 Energy efficiency finance is expanding and innovating, with new funding approaches and business models; there is a notable expansion in funding for development aid projects, as well as in the use of funding vehicles such as energy service companies (ESCOs) and on-bill financing mechanisms.

 Vehicle fuel economy standards now cover 70% of the global passenger light-duty vehicle (LDV) market and will drive the market for more energy-efficient vehicles in the next five years. New standards are estimated to lead to energy efficiency investments of USD 80 billion annually out to 2020 and will save between USD 40 billion and USD 190 billion in fuel costs.

 The market potential for energy efficiency is growing significantly in OECD non-member economies.This is pronounced in the transport sector, where passenger travel is estimated to increase by 90% by 2020 from 2011 levels.

Energy savings equate to the entire fuel consumption of the European Union

Energy Efficiency Comparisons

Energy savings equate to the entire fuel consumption of the European Union

Previous IEA analysis has shown that energy efficiency is not just a hidden fuel but is also the “first fuel” in the IEA’s largest economies. This year’s report shows that energy efficiency investments over the past four decades have avoided more energy consumption than the total final consumption of the EU in 2011. Efficiency investments and policies are reducing a continent’s worth of energy demand in a time when fast-developing economies are adding energy demand to the global energy system.

The report reveals that huge potential for energy efficiency exists in emerging economies outside the OECD, with efficient vehicles and transport infrastructure a major opportunity. The IEA estimates that efficiency can reduce up to USD 190 billion in fuel costs in transport globally by 2020 and can help alleviate local air pollution and even address critical congestion issues in rapidly developing urban transport systems.

According to the IEA, some 40 percent of the global energy efficiency market is financed with debt and equity, meaning that the financial market for energy efficiency is in the range of USD 120 billion per year. The number of products and the volume of finance have greatly expanded in recent years, with green bonds, corporate green bonds, energy performance contracts, private commitments, carbon and climate finance, and multilateral development banks and bilateral banks all offering expanded sources of finance for energy efficiency improvements. Bilateral and multilateral lending alone amounted to more than USD 22 billion in 2012.

Energy Efficiency has had its largest impact in the residential sector

Energy Efficiency has had its largest impact in the residential sector

“Energy efficiency is moving from a niche interest to an established market segment with increasing interest from institutional lenders and investors,” said the IEA Executive Director. “As energy efficiency is essential to meeting our climate goals while supporting economic growth, the increasing use of finance is a welcome development. To fully expand this market, initiatives to continue to reduce barriers will need to strengthen.”

Energy efficiency represents the most important plank in efforts to decarbonise the global energy system and achieve the world’s climate objectives: In the IEA scenario consistent with limiting the long-term increase in global temperatures to no more than 2 degrees Celsius, the biggest share of emissions reductions – 40 percent – comes from energy efficiency.

To download the executive summary of Energy Efficiency Market Report 2014, please click here.
To read Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven’s presentation at the release of the Energy Efficiency Market Report 2014, please click here.
To see the slides that accompanied the launch of Energy Efficiency Market Report 2014, please click here.
To view a factsheet for Energy Efficiency Market Report 2014, please click ‌here

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