U.S. Lags Behind Other Countries In Energy-Efficiency Efforts

Jul 18, 2012 -

The U.K. ranks first in a new energy-efficiency ranking of the world's major economies, and is followed closely by Germany, Italy and Japan, according to the International Energy Efficiency Scorecard, published by the nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

The U.S., however, is ranked in ninth place out of 12 global economies. The report finds that in the last decade the U.S. has made "limited or little progress toward greater efficiency at the national level."

The report lists 12 of the world's largest economies, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the U.K., the U.S. and the European Union (EU). These 12 economies represent over 78% of global gross domestic product, 63% of global energy consumption and 62% of the global carbon-dioxide equivalent emissions.

On a scale of 100 possible points in 27 categories, the nations were ranked by ACEEE as follows: (1) the U.K.; (2) Germany; (3) Italy; (4) Japan; (5) France; (6) the EU, Australia, and China (three-way tie); (9) the U.S.; (10) Brazil; (11) Canada; and (12) Russia.

ACEEE divided the 27 metrics across four groupings: those that track cross-cutting aspects of energy use at the national level, as well as the three sectors primarily responsible for energy consumption in an economically developed country - buildings, industry and transportation. The top-scoring countries in each grouping are Germany (national efforts); China (buildings); the U.K. (industry); and a tie among Italy, China, Germany and the U.K. (transportation).

The report outlines a number of recommendations for the U.S., including the following:

- Congress should pass a national energy-savings target to complement existing state policies;

- Manufacturers should commit to continual improvement in energy efficiency by using Superior Energy Performance ISO 50001 and other voluntary platforms;

- States and the federal government should implement improved financial incentives, such as tax credits, loans and loan-loss reserves, to spur private investment in energy efficiency;

- Greatly increased R&D investment is needed to develop new technologies and practices that support energy efficiency across all sectors of the economy; and

- Electric grid infrastructure should be modernized to reduce line losses. Utilities should deploy high-efficiency distribution transformers, increased utilization of distributed energy sources, and advanced smart grid techniques to reduce transmission and distribution losses.