Energy Efficiency Fiction

The drumbeat continues: Energy efficiency can dramatically cut energy use … perhaps by 50%.

While LEDs can result in real energy savings at a reasonable cost, some organizations continue to trumpet preposterous and outrageous claims about energy efficiency.

A recent McKinsey report on how industry could dramatically cut its use of energy, claimed that operational improvements could result in improving energy efficiency by 50% in some cases, but by 10% to 20% overall.

The report listed 108 technologies across many industries with the percent energy reductions each technology could achieve.

Number industries

Percent reductions

20

<2%

52

2% – 5%

20

5% – 15%

16

>15%

When 72 of the 108 technologies can only achieve a 5% or less improvement in energy usage, it’s not likely that energy usage will be cut dramatically. It should be noted that 11 of the 36 technologies that might achieve energy improvements greater than 5% are  from demonstration or pilot projects.

Improving energy efficiency is always a good objective if the paybacks can occur quickly, and 2/3 of the technologies in the McKinsey report apparently have acceptable paybacks of less than 5 years.

In any case, the McKinsey report doesn’t support the contention that industry can dramatically cut its energy usage.

More egregious claims are made by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

The latest ACEEE report, The 2015 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, ranks all states as to how well they comply with standards that ACEEE has established regarding energy efficiency.

It all looks scientific, but is actually an effort to get people to use less energy so as to cut CO2 emissions.

For example, here are some key criteria used by ACEEE for comparing each state’s performance for energy efficiency improvements:

  • Reduction in vehicle miles traveled
  • Adoption of transit systems, using dollars spent on transit as the measurement
  • Achieve a 26% reduction in CO2 emissions
  • Establishing mandatory energy efficiency targets (EERS) for utilities
  • Allowing personal energy information to be made available to third parties
  • Forcing the adoption of energy codes mandated by the Department of Energy (DOE)
  • Comparing the use of financial incentives, i.e., using tax payer money, to promote energy efficiency
ACEEE State Rankings for Improvements in EnergyEfficiency
ACEEE State Rankings for Improvements in EnergyEfficiency

It’s worth remembering how ACEEE evaluated the United States in its international evaluation of energy efficiency report to understand the political motivations that may be behind ACEEE.

For example, in the residential sector of the ACEEE’s International Report, the United States scored a 1 (nearly the worst possible rating) while China scored a 5 (best possible rating).

In other words, according to ACEEE, buildings in China were more efficient than in the United States, by a factor of 5 to 1.

Anyone who has been to China can understand the ignorance behind such a ranking, and also the political motivations behind the ACEEE reports.

Here is a paragraph from an earlier article, Distorted Energy Efficiency Assertions.

“New apartment buildings in China don’t have heating or air-conditioning and lack elevators below the fifth floor. The government assumes people don’t need heating with temperatures of 40 degrees F since they can put on sweaters or jackets. People also don’t need air-conditioning with temperatures of 95 degrees F, which are not uncommon in much of China.”

In essence, the ACEEE reports are about cutting CO2 emissions by requiring U.S. citizens to cut their energy use no matter how much it negatively impacts their standard of living. Reducing vehicle miles traveled is a good example. Forcing the adoption of DOE mandated energy codes is another.

Except for LEDs, there is no technology currently available that can result in a 50% improvement in energy efficiency.

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0 Replies to “Energy Efficiency Fiction”

  1. Donn,
    Thanks for another excellent article. Unfortunately one cannot believe much of the claims by the greenies including many of the government agency claims when it comes to alarmist global warming, renewable energy, and potential efficiency improvements. I suspect the energy improvements are inflated to mislead people into believing that the CO 2 emission reductions are practical as are the false success claims for biofuels, solar and wind energy.

    Another example is the arbitrary 54.2 mpg government mandate for auto fuel efficiency improvements by 2025. It is dubious that this can be achieved by efficiency, but instead it will require much smaller and less useful autos and sacrifice for everyone, especially for large families. It looks at 35.5 mpg by next year 2016, which does not appear achievable. Also it assumes wider use of electric vehicles which will not happen until someone magically comes up with the elusive battery suitable for long range. Also your previous article on electric cars indicated that the consumers are not buying them according to the government’s target.

    The cost of the mandated fuel efficiency is indicated below, note that the final number was 54.2 not the original 56.2 mpg in the article:
    http://www.motortrend.com/news/obamas-epa-seeks-56-mpg-by-2025/

    The Cost of Fuel Efficiency: $6714

    “How much will a 56.2-mpg Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard cost consumers? On average, $6714 per car (in 2008 dollars), says the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “This model requires a 20 percent PEV (plug-in electric) market share to meet the standards-drastic by any measure,” CAR says in its analysis.”

    “The Obama administration is expected to formally propose in September the second strictest of four proposed standards to succeed the 2011-2016 ramp-up to 35.5 mpg. Thanks to the rather convoluted math that has plagued CAFE for decades, these numbers do not really mean every automaker’s fleet must average 35.5 mpg in 2016 or 56.2 mpg in 2025. CAFE uses an S curve to determine the fuel-efficiency increases necessary across the automotive spectrum.”

    “A 56.2-mpg standard assumes a 5-percent cut per year in CO2 emission in an automaker’s fleet. The most lenient proposal would have cut CO2 by 3 percent per year, to 47 mpg by 2025, while the standard that environmentalist groups most favored would have cut CO2 by 6 percent per year, to 62 mpg.”

    “CAR says the 47-mpg standard would have added $3744 per vehicle. A 4-percent per year/51 mpg standard would have added $5270 per vehicle, and the highly green 62-mpg standard would have added $9790 per vehicle.”

    “Shortly before the administration proposed its CAFE standard, a Boston Consulting Group survey found that, based on consumer demand, gas internal-combustion engines will remain the predominant source of power in North America through 2020.”

    • Thanks, great comments.
      I read to the last paragraph of the article provided by the link you gave, and it is very important.
      It essentially said, because of CO2 requirements in Europe and Japan, and worldwide standardization of automobile designs, we will face limitations in automobile design in the US, with constraints, such as requirements for more bicycle usage. It’s worth reading the last paragraph to gain a full perspective of what’s happening because of CO2 hysteria.

  2. Here’s a little humor about this topic – I got a general email recently from an administrator at a college where I work part-time. He was very upset because people were parking in spaces assigned only for people who carpool (there is a special sticker you get if you do this). It turns out that the school got a grant for assigning these spaces (it reduces miles traveled). Apparently no one or just a few people have these stickers. This school has an energy efficiency certification of some level. We also have spaces with chargers assigned for those who charge their electric vehicles. The students get upset because these type of spaces are close to buildings and they complain that they never see anyone parking there. I suppose it has more to do with composing a datasheet to submit a grant than an actual implementation plan.

  3. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup | Watts Up With That?

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