According to the 2014 International Energy Efficiency Scorecard published today by the nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), Germany is the most energy efficient country in the world.
Among the world’s major economies, Italy is ranked second, followed the European Union, China and France, while the US holds the 13th position out of 16 nations.
New to the rankings this year are four nations: India, Mexico, South Korea, and Spain.
Now in its second edition, the ACEEE energy efficiency report finds that, while some countries are still significantly outperforming others, there are substantial opportunities for improved energy efficiency in all economies analysed, including the US, which ranked 13th out of 16 nations – behind countries such as China, Canada, and India.
Defining energy efficiency
The rankings are modelled on ACEEE’s approach to energy efficiency ranking of US states, and include 16 of the world’s largest economies: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union. These 16 economies represent over 81 percent of global gross domestic product and 71% of global energy consumption.
On a scale of 100 possible points in 31 categories, the nations were ranked by ACEEE as follows: (1) Germany; (2) Italy; (3) the European Union; (tied for 4) China; (tied for 4) France; (tied for 6) Japan; (tied for 6) United Kingdom; (8) Spain; (9) Canada; (10) Australia; (11) India; (12) South Korea; (13) United States; (14) Russia; (15) Brazil; and (16) Mexico.
ACEEE divided the 31 metrics across four groupings: those that track cross-cutting aspects of energy use at the national level, as well as the three sectors primarily responsible for energy consumption in an economically developed country — buildings, industry, and transportation. The top-scoring countries in each grouping are: E.U., France, and Italy (three-way tie for national efforts); China (buildings); Germany (industry); and Italy (transportation).
Energy efficiency ‘top priority’
ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel said: “Germany is a prime example of a nation that has made energy efficiency a top priority. The United States, long considered an innovative and competitive world leader, has progressed slowly and has made limited progress since our last report, even as Germany, Italy, China, and other nations surge ahead.”
Dr. Philipp Ackermann, Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission, Chargé d’Affaires, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, said: “We are very pleased that Germany ranks first in ACEEE’s analysis of energy efficiency efforts among the world’s 16 largest economies. We see this as a validation that Germany’s measures are bearing fruit in its ongoing efforts to transition towards a low-carbon and energy-efficient economy. At the same time, we will continue to strive for further improvements.
“Energy efficiency is the second pillar of Germany’s transformation of its energy system alongside the expansion of renewable energies. Every kilowatt hour of electricity that is not consumed saves on fossil fuels and the construction of power plants and grids.”
US lagging behind
The ACEEE report points out that while the US has made some progress towards greater energy efficiency in recent years, the overall story is disappointing.
It states: “The inefficiency in the US economy means a tremendous waste of energy resources and money. Across most metrics analysed in this International Scorecard, in the past decade the United States has made limited progress toward greater efficiency at the national level.
“The overall U.S. score of 42 is less than half of the possible points and is 23 points away from the top spot. Further, the United States falls behind Canada, Australia, India, and South Korea. These scores suggest that this list of countries may have an economic advantage over the United States because using less energy to produce and transport the same economic output costs them less. Their efforts to improve efficiency likely make their economies more nimble and resilient.”
The new carbon pollution standards for existing power plants proposed this June by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would be a major stride in the direction of greater energy efficiency in the U.S. There are dozens of other international best practices that the U.S. could implement to improve its score.
Commenting on the report, US Congressman for Vermont Peter Welch said: “There’s really no excuse for the US lagging behind other nations on energy efficiency. States like Vermont have demonstrated that energy efficiency saves money, reduces environmental impact, and creates jobs. And, in an environment of gridlock, there is bipartisan common ground on this issue in Congress. I hope the 2014 International Scorecard is a wakeup call that it’s time for America to step-up and lead on energy efficiency.”
The ACEEE report raises a critical question: looking forward, how can the United States compete in a global economy if it continues to waste money and energy that other industrialised nations save and can reinvest?
In its analysis, ACEEE outlines a number of recommendations for the United States, highlighting four major opportunities for increased energy efficiency: passing a national energy savings target, strengthening national model building energy codes, supporting education and training in the industrial sectors, and prioritising energy efficiency in transportation spending.
In addition to expanding the list of global economies included in the ranking, there have been other changes made since the 2012 International Energy Efficiency Scorecard. New metrics have been added and several existing metrics have been improved with better data sources and increased input from country experts. The new metrics include water efficiency policy, agricultural efficiency, building retrofit policies, heavy-duty fuel efficiency standards, and investment in energy efficiency by the private sector.
The ACEEE ranking system looks at both “policy metrics” and “performance metrics” to measure a country’s overall energy efficiency. Examples of “policy metrics” include the presence of a national energy savings target, fuel economy standards for vehicles, and energy efficiency standards for appliances. The “performance metrics” measure energy use and provide quantifiable results. Examples of “performance metrics” include average miles per gallon of on-road passenger vehicles and energy consumed per square foot of floor space in residential buildings.
Originally posted on Metering.com, the sister portal to Engerati.com