UK leads on energy efficiency

13th July 2012


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Efforts by industry to cut energy use has helped the UK to become the most energy efficient of the world's major economies, according to new research from the US

The UK was ranked top of the world’s 12 largest economies by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), in terms of energy efficiency policies and tangible energy reductions over the past decade.

The research assessed and scored the actions and efforts of economies in terms of reducing energy use nationally, as well as in from industry, buildings and transport.

The high uptake of combined heat and power (CHP) by industry and a diverse range of voluntary agreements with manufacturers to cut energy consumption, where important in reducing the UK’s overall energy intensity and achieving the top score of 67 out of a possible 100.

Germany followed closely behind, with a score of 66, while France came third scoring 60. Meanwhile Russia was revealed to be the least energy efficient of the major economies, scoring just 36, only one point below that of Brazil.

Reacting to the news, UK energy secretary Ed Davey, said: “Energy efficiency sits at the heart of our policies to encourage low-carbon growth, and I am therefore particularly pleased that the UK is ranked first of the twelve economies considered by the study.

“Making our buildings and industries more energy efficient is a significant challenge, one that will take years to meet; doing so cost effectively will mean drawing on the experiences of others.”

The analysis ranked the UK’s efforts top in terms of industrial energy efficiency, and joint top with Germany, Italy and China in terms of reducing energy from transport.

While ranking eighth overall, China’s efforts to improve the energy efficiency of its buildings far outperformed the other nations, receiving top marks for low energy use in both residential and commercial buildings.

In terms of national policy efforts, Germany was ranked top, partly due to its efforts to improve the energy intensity of its economy, with the amount of energy used to generate its GDP cut by 41% between 2000 and 2009.

In total the researchers looked at 27 areas of policy and performance including the level of administrative spending on energy efficiency, the number of vehicle miles travelled, and whether energy audits were mandatory for businesses.

It concluded that while there were examples of best practice in each area, no one economy is performing well across all the elements.

“There are substantial opportunities for improvement in all economies analysed. The conditions required for a perfect score are currently achievable and in practice, somewhere on the globe,” states the report.

“For every metric, at least one country received full points. However, every country has serious weaknesses.”

The report concludes that the US must ramp up its energy efficiency efforts in order to remain competitive with the rest of the globe. It recommends the US adopts a national energy saving target; develops policy to encourage wider uptake of CHP and encourages manufacturers to perform regular energy audits in line with ISO 50001 – as will soon be mandated in the EU, under the Energy Efficiency Directive.

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