The U.S. operates at an overall 13% energy efficiency, meaning that 87% of the energy used is wasted according to speakers at a symposium this week. Speakers at the symposium, marking the 30th anniversary year of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), also said that new energy sources are likely to play a much smaller role in the economic recovery and future growth than are new advances in energy efficiency – yet the emphasis on new energy is crowding out meaningful dialogue and progress on achieving greater energy efficiency.
John A. “Skip” Laitner, director, Economic and Social Analysis, ACEEE and Robert U. Ayres, emeritus professor, Economics and Political Science and Technology Management, European Institute of Business Administration (INSEAD) made several key assertions:
• America’s economy has tripled in size since 1970 and three-quarters of the energy needed to fuel that growth came from efficiency advances, not net new energy. The current economic recovery and future growth are likely to be even more dependent on new energy efficiency advances.
• Americans may be overly optimistic the United States energy efficiency. Even with the huge developments of recent decades, the U.S. economy remains only about 13% energy efficient. This while Japan and several European countries operate at about 20% efficiency.
• Energy efficiency investments have the potential to provide up to half of the needed greenhouses gas emissions reductions most projected to be needed by the year 2050.
"Cost-effective investment that can reduce the amount of energy necessary to support a dollar of economic activity is the single most important driver of economic productivity within the United States and around the world," Laitner said.
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