Energy efficiency could deliver 40% of the emissions abatement required by the Paris Agreement climate goals
Energy provides a host of useful services, but some methods of delivering those services use more energy than others...
Energy provides a host of useful services, but some methods of delivering those services use more energy than others. This measure of useful output for each unit of energy input is termed energy efficiency, and efforts to systematically improve efficiency are an important aspect of energy management. Energy efficiency is sometimes referred to as the “first fuel” since advancements in efficiency can achieve demand savings that displace energy generation that would otherwise be required. Improvements in energy efficiency can be achieved at many levels of the energy system, from generation facilities to home appliances and transport vehicles. Improved efficiency can lower energy costs without compromising the quality of energy products and services provided, and is consistently identified as one of the lowest-cost ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Efficiency programmes can also maintain system reliability without needing to install, upgrade, or replace transmission and distribution equipment, and contribute to greater energy security by reducing dependence on energy imports. While economic growth will likely demand increased services provided by energy, there is clear potential to sustain growth without necessarily increasing energy consumption, through efficiency improvements that are both cost-effective and widely available.
Energy management, as it involves assessing energy use and developing programmes to increase efficiency and reduce costs, is becoming an expanded focus of increasing importance for business strategy in the changing energy system. The availability of innovative, affordable technologies – in heating, lighting, insulation, small scale power generation and smart flexibility – is opening up myriad opportunities for better managing how we use energy. Those taking on business roles that involve energy management, including energy managers as well as sustainability consultants and facilities managers, guide investments in such technologies, redesign processes, retrofit buildings and equipment, and plan energy-related systems for new projects. They also assist businesses and other organisations in complying with legal energy and carbon reporting obligations that are getting more stringent in line with increasing environmental concerns. In tackling these complex challenges, energy management professionals need to pull levers across energy supply, efficiency, generation, demand management and behaviour change. Skilled, knowledgeable energy management professionals will achieve the most effective, enduring outcomes towards a global low carbon, efficient energy system.