The "non-energy" benefits of energy efficiency: who knew!

I recently attended the 2016 Australian Summer Study conference where global speakers presented current thinking with respect to energy efficiency across many sectors. One quote which caught my attention was that non-energy benefits contributed up to 4 times the benefits of energy efficiency alone, based on a study by the International Energy Agency. This led me to locate the following report, which supports this thinking.

An except from the report:

Energy efficiency: The “first fuel” with large untapped potential

Energy efficiency is taking its place as a major energy resource in the context of national and international efforts to achieve sustainability targets. This reflects a paradigm shift that is beginning to give credence to actions on both the supply and the demand side in the quest to achieve economic growth while supporting energy security, competitiveness and environmental sustainability. In effect, attention to energy efficiency has begun to evolve, progressing from the lack of visibility inherent in its identification as “the hidden fuel” (i.e. measured and valued only as the negative quantity of energy not used) to an increasing recognition of its role as the “first fuel”. Energy use avoided by International Energy Agency (IEA) member countries in 2010 (generated from investments over the preceding 1974 to 2010 period), was larger than actual demand met by any other single supply-side resource, including oil, gas, coal and electricity – making energy efficiency the largest or “first” fuel. Aggregate annual investments in energy efficiency have been estimated at USD 300 billion in 2011, which is equal to aggregate investments in coal, oil and gas power generation. Macroeconomists have stated that energy efficiency is the surest energy supply that exists. 

Download the full report here. Capturing the Multiple Benefits of Energy Efficiency