New Report: U.S. Ranks 13th out of 16 Largest Economies in Energy Efficiency

July 21st, 2014

Based on this story, it looks like the U.S. has a lot of work to do when it comes to energy efficiency.

The U.S. ranks 13th out of the 16 largest economies in energy efficiency, according to areport released today from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, an environmental nonprofit advocacy group.

The U.S. scored poorly for a number of reasons, including relatively low use of and investment in public transit, a high number of miles traveled in inefficient vehicles as well as high energy usage in both commercial and residential sectors.  A lack of energy savings targets and efficiency standards also played a role, the report’s authors said.

This poor ranking is unfortunate for a number of reasons. For one, as Tigercomm’s Bridgette Borst reported in late June, a Johnson Controls energy efficiency forum concluded that not only is “energy efficiency is a great way to save money, reduce carbon emissions [and] put lots of people to work in good-paying, local jobs,” it is also “one of the key four building blocks that states will be able to comply with the part 111-D Rule” (the EPA’s recently-announced proposal for reductions of carbon pollution from existing fossil fuel power plants).

Second, Americans overwhelmingly support energy efficiency improvements, so this is a political “no brainer.”

Third, as an International Energy Agency report in late 2013 found that energy efficiency is a “huge opportunity going unrealised,” with “investments in energy efficiency…still less than two‐thirds of the level of fossil fuel subsidies.”

Finally, with regard to the enormous potential of energy efficiency, see Institute for Building Efficiency’s Jennifer Layke: Insights on Communicating the Enormous Potential of Energy Efficiency and Is energy efficiency condemned to be the “eat your peas” technology?, in which we note that Rocky Mountain Institute Chairman and Chief Scientist Amory Lovins has found that“adopting efficiency technologies aggressively yet cost-effectively, yield[s] at least a 12% annual real rate of return.”

Given the points listed above, there’s really no excuse for the U.S. to rank 13th out of the 16 largest economies in terms of energy efficiency. To the contrary, we should be pushing hard to move towards the top of those rankings, and to do so as quickly as possible.

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (7/21/14)

July 21st, 2014

Here are five recommended reads for today (7/21/14).

  1. Grist reports, “Washington state just lopped up to $2,500 off the cost of solar panels. Here’s how.”
  2. According to NBC News: “Nebraska farmers–unlike many of their counterparts in Texas and Kansas, where the Ogallala is quickly being sucked to the last drop—know that they are blessed to have wells of gushing water, especially as the grip of a drought across the Great Plains extends into a fourth year and, moreover, as scores of scientists forecast a future climate drier, hotter, windier – in all, more punishing. This precious water, and the risk that it could be poisoned by oil piped from Canada, has galvanized not only the tribal nations of South Dakota, but also a coalition of Nebraska farmers, ranchers and concerned citizens. Together, they’ve formed something called the Cowboy-Indian Alliance, and it includes grandmothers and grandfathers suddenly radicalized.”
  3. The Guardian reports, “Whales under threat as US approves seismic oil prospecting in Atlantic.”
  4. According to an AP report in the SC Times, “Gov. Mark Dayton challenged energy policy and business leaders Thursday to find a way for Minnesota to eliminate coal from the state’s energy production.”
  5. Greentech Media reports on “The Coming Storage Boom: Project Proposals Nearly Double California’s Storage Target.”

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (7/18/14)

July 18th, 2014

Here are five recommended reads for today (7/18/14).

  1. Greentech Media reports: “Germany outranks the U.S. in terms of energy efficiency, according to the second International Energy Efficiency Scorecard put out by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. But it’s not just the Germans, who are known for their efficiency and engineering prowess, that best the U.S. in this category. Italy, India, Spain and China are just a few of the major world economies that also ranked above the U.S., which came in thirteenth out of sixteen countries.”
  2. According to NRDC: “Any day now, the U.S. Forest Service will release what’s called a “management plan” for the George Washington National Forest.  The plan will include a crucial decision we’re watching very closely: will industrial gas drilling and fracking be allowed in the forest or will the forest be protected?”
  3. Ucilia Wang makes the case in Forbes that “Now Is A Good Time To Invest In Solar Manufacturing and Marketing In The U.S.”
  4. Renewable Energy World reports, “China is three years behind schedule on a plan that would make it the world’s biggest market for offshore wind, a setback for the $15 billion industry that’s seeking to produce affordable electricity from the one of nature’s most reliable energy sources.”
  5. Renew Economy writes, “As Prime Minister Tony Abbott celebrated the promised axing of the carbon price and the re-focus of Australia’s economic future on the extraction of fossil fuels, the market price supporting his economic blueprint is in the process of collapsing.”

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (7/17/14)

July 17th, 2014

Here are five recommended reads for today (7/17/14).

  1. The Tampa Bay Times reports, “In an effort to push Gov. Rick Scott into the debate on climate change, 10 prominent Florida scientists on Tuesday asked for an opportunity to explain to him the impact human-induced global warming will have on Florida.”
  2. Greentech Media compares the “tortoise” and the “hare”: “New York and Massachusetts have very different solar markets. But as Sara Rafalson explains, they’re learning from each other.”
  3. According to Inside Climate News: “In early July, a million gallons of salty drilling waste spilled from a pipeline onto a steep hillside in western North Dakota’s Fort Berthold Reservation. The waste—a byproduct of oil and gas production—has now reached a tributary of Lake Sakakawea, which provides drinking water to the reservation. The oil industry called the accident a “saltwater” spill. But the liquid that entered the lake bears little resemblance to what’s found in the ocean.
  4. Renew Economy writes about the “monstrously stupid” decision by the Australian government to repeal the country’s carbon tax, which “had been in operation in Australia for two years” and “was working.”
  5. The Wall Street Journal reports, Tesla Motors Inc. is taking a closer look at California to build a giant electric-car battery factory after state lawmakers proposed new tax breaks and regulatory changes that could speed its construction and lower costs.”

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (7/16/14)

July 16th, 2014

Here are five recommended reads for today (7/16/14).

  1. The Miami Herald reports, “In an effort to push Gov. Rick Scott into the debate on climate change, 10 prominent scientists from the state’s top universities on Tuesday asked for an opportunity to explain to him the impact human-induced global warming will have on Florida.”
  2. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “Significant fuel economy improvement options exist for light-duty gasoline vehicles.”
  3. Inside Climate News provides a timeline of the Koch brothers’ 50 years in the tar sands business.
  4. According to Renewable Energy World, “In a move that many in the solar industry applauded, a World Trade Organization panel found that the US government overstepped its bounds when it imposed tariffs on solar panels and other goods from China..”
  5. Greentech Media reports: “The Central American solar market will soon be making headlines. With more than 2.3 gigawatts expected to be installed over the next five years, we expect Central America to account for more than one-third of all PV demand in the Latin America region.”