The Imperative of Energy Efficiency: Unlocking Climate Solutions Through Sustainable Practices

Saurabh Kumar, Vice President for India, GEAPP
Key Facts

First published on ETEnergyWorld

While various national and regional bodies promote energy efficiency, one institution dedicated to advancing energy efficiency on a worldwide scale does not exist.

To achieve India’s environmental and climate goals, there is a need to focus on energy efficiency. The resources are scarce, and demand is increasing. The primary energy demand has increased exponentially in the country, from about 450 million tons of oil in 2000 to 880 million by 2020. To cater to the energy demands, reduce emissions, and, most importantly, achieve the goal of reducing the energy intensity of GDP by 45% by 2030, the power sector in the country needs to adopt technological innovations to make it more efficient. Multiple steps and strategies, such as policy and regulatory interventions, incentives and subsidies to consumers and manufacturers of energy-efficient equipment and investing in research and development to promote innovation in energy-efficient products can be implemented to achieve the goal of energy efficiency. However, creating awareness and sensitization towards energy conservation and efficiency is the most cost-effective and easiest way to nudge people to adopt energy-efficient measures.

Energy Efficiency: Rationale and Challenges

Energy efficiency is crucial because it plays an immense role in mitigating the impact of climate change and accelerating the global energy transition. Measures taken under energy efficiency have the potential to offset emissions by up to 55%, ensuring the right step towards clean energy transition.

The transition to energy-efficient appliances, such as ceiling fans, therefore, holds significant global potential. To put it into perspective, traditional fans typically consume approximately 70 watts, while their energy-efficient counterparts operate at around 25 watts. While this may appear as a modest disparity, let us consider this on a larger scale. Assuming the average household employs three fans, adopting energy- efficient models could result in a power consumption reduction of 45 watts per fan, translating to sehold. When we apply this data on a global scale, accounting for over a billion households worldwide using fans, the cumulative energy savings become substantial.

Institutions and individuals show initial reluctance in adopting energy- efficient appliances and technologies due to higher costs, difficulty measuring their impact, and the absence of perceived reliability. Lack of awareness and sensitization and the absence of affordable options for energy-efficient appliances and technologies create many challenges in adopting energy-efficient measures

Nudging people to take up energy-efficient measures

Along with institutional and policy measures, the best strategy is to adopt innovative practices and low-cost behavioral options to nudge people towards adopting energy-efficient measures. Feedback mechanisms, leveraging social comparison and norms, reward schemes, and changing the product design and the physical environment to default options focused on energy efficiency are some behavioral interventions that can promote energy conservation efforts. Social comparison is one of the efficient ways to gently push people to adopt best practices in their daily ” ome electricity consumption, lower greenhouse emissions, and ease pressure on the power grid. For instance, home energy reports used in various countries, such as the USA, Japan and Malaysia, comparing consumption with one’s neighbor or peer pushed many people to become aware of their energy consumption and make an effort to change their behavior.

Creating an ecosystem to support energy efficiency measures.

The energy efficiency landscape has historically struggled with fragmentation on a global scale. However, the tide is turning towards more united front in the pursuit of sustainable energy solutions. The absence of a unified global institution for energy efficiency, similar to organizations like the International Renewable Energy Agency (IREN or the International Solar Alliance (ISA) for renewable energy, has also hindered progress. While various national and regional bodies promote energy efficiency, one institution dedicated to advancing energy efficiency on a worldwide scale does not exist.