Energy efficiency or energy demand?

Bergman, Noam (2019) Energy efficiency or energy demand? eceee 2019 Summer Study, France, 03–08 Jun 2019. Published in: eceee 2019 Summer Study proceedings. 351-360. eceee ISSN 1653-7025 ISBN 9789198387841

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Energy efficiency has long been hailed as a central pillar in climate change mitigation through its role in reducing energy demand – not least by eceee. However, some now question whether the energy efficiency narrative is sufficient for emission reduction goals. This is a welcome development, as this narrative has often been synonymous with improving technical efficiency, while obscuring the question of reducing demand for energy services – as opposed to delivering those same services more efficiently. Further, it carries an implicit techno-centric bias, overlooking non-technological solutions. A classic example is the EU’s estimates of potentially large energy savings that could be achieved by more efficient tumble dryers – a study measure which could encourage dryer purchase, significantly increasing energy use over hanging clothes to dry.
This paper draws on conclusions from three research projects at the Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand (CIED), including one finding that a shift to electric cars risks maintaining high travel demand, preventing a deeper transition to a more sustainable transport system, and another forecasting significantly lower household energy savings from the UK smart meter rollout than previously estimated. I conclude that the energy efficiency narrative might lock us in to high energy lifestyles through seeking ways to maintain, rather than disrupt, business as usual behaviours. I suggest that a complementary energy demand reduction narrative could highlight the limits to (technical) efficiency savings, and open a way for policy to engage with the deeper changes needed to our demand for energy services.

Item Type: Conference Proceedings
Keywords: narratives, techno-optimism, energy sufficiency, energy efficiency
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labour > HD9000 Special industries and trades > HD9502 Energy industries. Energy policy. Fuel trade
H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and communications > HE5601 Automotive transportation
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM0701 Social systems
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM0831 Social change
T Technology > TK Electrical engineering. Electronics Nuclear engineering > TK0301 Electric meters
T Technology > TL Motor vehicles. Aeronautics. Astronautics > TL0001 Motor vehicles. Cycles
Depositing User: Noam Bergman
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2019 13:18
Last Modified: 30 Jul 2021 12:27

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
Research Centre on Innovation and Energy DemandG1020RCUK-RESEARCH COUNCILS UKEP/K011790/1