Cameron Wigmore, Green Party Member: Energy Efficiency Better Than Expected

June 24, 2007

Energy Efficiency Better Than Expected

Energy Efficiency and Conservation: The Cornerstone of a Sustainable Energy Future

Here are a few highlights from a July '06, PDF report (985kb file) from the Canadian Renewable Energy Alliance on how conservation and efficiency measures have proven highly effective in an effort to meet energy demands. It's simple: we can meet demands by reducing them.

Energy efficiency is the least cost, most reliable, and most environmentally-sensitive resource, and minimizes our contribution to climate change.
California’s Energy Action Plan II *1

Energy efficiency is likely to be the cheapest and safest way of addressing all [of our energy] objectives, while also strengthening energy security and improving our industrial competitiveness as we develop cleaner technologies, products and processes.
UK Energy White Paper *2

Fortunately, energy efficiency and conservation are the lowest cost option for meeting energy needs, and they provide many other environmental, economic and social benefits as well:
· overall cost savings from lower expenditures on energy;
· a lower environmental load from avoiding the greenhouse gas and local air, water and land emissions associated with energy production and consumption;
· local economic-development opportunities and associated new jobs;
· an energy system with enhanced reliability and less price volatility; and
· improved energy-supply security.

*1 California Energy Commission. 2005. California’s Energy Action Plan II, p. 3.
*2 Department of Trade and Industry. 2003. UK Energy White Paper, Our Energy Future—Creating a Low Carbon Economy,

Recommendations for Provincial Strategies

1 Set a goal of meeting all new growth in energy demand over the next two decades through energy efficiency and conservation. Set energy efficiency targets for each sector along with appropriate intermediate milestones for energy utilities and industries. Make these milestones into legal requirements by using Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standards and tradable permit (white certificates) programs.

2 Treat energy efficiency as a resource and given priority over supply resources. All resources should be assessed using social, environmental and economic cost criteria.

3 Mandate an independent dedicated agency to coordinate and deliver energy efficiency and conservation programs, and recommend policy changes.

4 Establish permanent funding sources through the budget process to support a building code and equipment standard review cycle.

5 Provide a shared savings DSM incentive mechanism for energy utilities, technical support provided for smaller utilities, and coordinate DSM programs across the Province.

6 Establish regular review cycles of energy efficiency requirements in building codes and minimum efficiency requirements for equipment. Changes in codes and standards should be negotiatedwith all stakeholders and supportive incentives provided to builders and suppliers in the lead up to changes.

7 Provide comprehensive energy efficiency programming covering all sectors and geographic areas in the Province. Market transformation programs should target the whole supply chain – manufacturers/builders, suppliers, contractors, users/consumers.

8 Provide targeted financial incentives to kick start market transformation and raise efficiency levels between code and standards cycles, providing effective support to suppliers, users, or contractors as appropriate.

9 Build an infrastructure to deliver energy efficiency products and services through training/certification of DSM program managers, contractors, circuit riders, building operators.

10 Partner with municipalities and First Nations to deliver community energy plans and community based energy efficiency programs.

Recommendations for Federal Enabling Policies and Support

1 Develop and implement a national energy efficiency strategy and action plan with targets and timelines, based on best practices, individual and joint initiatives across Provinces, and participation in international initiatives on energy efficiency.

2 Establish a permanent review cycle of the national model energy code for buildings, EnerGuide for Houses, and vehicle efficiency requirements, in cooperation with the Provinces.

3 Use the Energy Efficiency Act to raise minimum efficiency standards for all energy using equipment to the highest levels in North America in cooperation with Provinces and harmonized with the most progressive US States.

4 Provide enabling legislation and protocol support for energy performance and best in class labeling programs.

5 Promote and support the use of measures that provide value to energy efficiency labels so that they reflect the full environmental and social benefits of high efficiency. These should include tradable energy efficiency permits or “white” certificates, green mortgage concessions, preferential tax treatment, and targeted incentives.

6 Make market transformation the primary objective of federal energy efficiency programming, working with Provinces, Territories, Municipalities and all stakeholders to transform new and retrofit building, appliance, lighting, electronic equipment, and industrial equipment and process markets.

7 Provide national support for training/certification of DSM program managers, contractors, circuit riders, building operators.

8 Show leadership and support for market transformation by expanding the Federal Buildings Initiative into a full green procurement strategy where all federal facilities are built, leased, upgraded, equipped and operated to the highest levels of efficiency on a life cycle cost basis.

9 Establish a national energy efficiency finance fund in cooperation with the finance industry, private sector investors, and municipalities. Reduce financial incentives and tax concessions for fossil fuels and nuclear and divert them toward new incentives for energy efficiency (and renewable energy).

10 Put special programs in place to reduce “energy poverty” and raise building standards for First Nations communities and low income families.

11 Expand Canadian participation in international partnerships such as REEEP, NAFTA, and the IEA, providing support for energy efficiency in developing countries as well as North American and international discussions.

Also related, here is a link to a summary of an article on energy efficiency from a September '06 Scientific American issue on energy.

Excerpts from “An Efficient Solution,” by Eberhard K. Jochem, Scientific American, September 2006.

Energy Efficiency Is The Solution

Wasting less energy is the quickest, least expensive way to stem carbon emissions. The huge potential of energy efficiency measures for mitigating the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere attracts little attention when place alongside the more glamorous alternatives of nuclear, hydrogen or renewable energies. But developing a comprehensive efficiency strategy is the fastest and cheapest thing we can do to reduce carbon emissions. It can also be profitable and astonishingly effective, as two recent examples demonstrate...

...Improved efficiencies can be realized all along the energy chain, from the conversion of primary energy (oil, for example) to energy carriers (such as electricity) and finally to useful energy (the heat in your toaster). The annual global primary energy demand is 447,000 petajoules (a petajoule is roughly 300 gigawatt-hours), 80 percent of which comes from carbon-emitting fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas. After conversion these primary energy sources deliver roughly 300,000 petajoules of so-called final energy to customers in the form of electricity, gasoline, heating oil, jet fuel, and so on.

The next step, the conversion of electricity, gasoline, and the like to useful energy in engines, boilers and lightbulbs, causes further energy losses of 154,000 petajuoules. Thus, at present almost 300,000 petajoules, or two thirds of the primary energy are lost during the two stages of energy conversion. Furthermore, all useful energy is eventually dissipated as heat at various temperatures. Insulating buildings more effectively, changing industrial processes and driving lighter, more aerodynamic cars would reduce the demand for useful energy, thus substantial reducing energy wastage.

Given the challenges presented by climate change and the high increases expected in energy prices, the losses that occur all along the energy chain can also be viewed as opportunities–and efficiency is one of the most important. New technologies and know-how must replace the present intensive use of energy and materials...

...Little heralded but impressive advances have already been made, often in the form of efficiency improvements that are invisible to the consumer. Beginning with the energy crisis in the 1970's, air conditioners in the U.S. were redesigned to use less power with little loss in cooling capacity and new U.S. building codes required more insulation and double-paned windows. New refrigerators use only one quarter of the power of earlier models. (With approximately 150 million refrigerators and freezers in the U.S., the difference in consumption between 1974 efficiency levels and 2001 levels is equivalent to avoiding the generation of 40 gigawatts at power plants.) Changing to compact fluorescent light-bulbs yields an instant reduction in power demand; these bulbs provide as much light as regular incandescent bulbs, last 10 times longer and use just one fourth to one fifth the energy...

The Importance Of Policy

To realize the full benefits of efficiency, strong energy policies are essential. Among the underlying reasons for the crucial role of policy are the dearth of knowledge by manufacturers and the public about efficiency options, budgeting methods that do not take proper account of the ongoing benefits of long-lasting investments, and market imperfections such as external costs for carbon emissions and other costs of energy use. Energy policy set by governments has traditionally underestimated the benefits of efficiency. Of course, factors other than policy can drive changes in efficiency–higher energy prices, new technologies or cost competition, for instance. But policies–which include energy taxes, financial incentives, professional training, labeling, environmental legislation, greenhouse gas emissions trading and international coordination of regulations for traded products–can make an enormous difference...

...Other similar projects abound. The Board of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology, for instance, has suggested a technological program aimed at what we call the 2,000-Watt Society–an annual primary energy use of 2,000 watts (or 65 gigajoules) per capita. Realizing this vision in industrial countries would reduce the per capita energy use and related carbon emissions by two thirds, despite a two-thirds increase in GDP, within the next 60 to 80 years. Swiss scientists, including myself, have been evaluating this plan since 2002, and we have concluded that the goal of the 2,000-watt per capita society is technically feasible for industrial countries in the second half of this century.

To some people, the term “energy efficiency” implies reduced comfort. But the concept of efficiency means that you get the same service–a comfortable room or convenient travel from home to work–using less energy. The EU, its member states and Japan have begun to tap the substantial–and profitable–potential of efficiency measures. To avoid the rising costs of energy supplies and the even costlier adaptations to climate change, efficiency must become a global activity.

Finally, on the subject of the economics & profitability of going green with your business, have a look at the book Natural Capitalism. Click on the link to read selected chapter excerpts online.


Cameron W said...

More data on energy efficiency.

Stanford Energy Efficiency Lectures - videos Advanced Energy Efficiency: Concepts and Practice
Amory B. Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute MAP/Ming Visiting Professor for Energy and Environment Stanford University March 2007

Energy End-Use Efficiency Amory B. Lovins, CEO, Rocky Mountain Institute (direct PDF link)


Cameron W said...

"Mr. Torrie challenges the idea that the threat of climate change means we must choose between economic ruin and environmental devastation. He argues that there is a third way forward, in which conservation, efficiency and renewable energy technologies are not threats to economic prosperity, but the keys to it. He describes a scenario of an energy future for Canada in which greenhouse gas emissions could be cut by 50% or more and argues that it is both economically and environmentally preferable to one in which emissions grow by 50%."

View Presentation (PDF)

Cameron W said...

Toward Sustainable Electricity Futures
Ralph D. Torrie and Richard Parfett


The output of Ontario’s nuclear power plants has dropped by a third since it peaked in 1994. It
will soon begin a further steep decline. By 2010 it will have dropped to 50% of its peak levels.
Sometime in the next 10-15 years, electricity production from nuclear power in Canada will drop
to zero. This projection assumes that the reactors that are still operating will continue producing
until they are 27 years old, more than five years longer than any CANDU has ever operated
without having to be shut down. It also assumes that the current reconstruction of one unit at the
Pickering A Station and two units at the Bruce A Station are successful and the rebuilt units
operate like new for another 13 years or more.

This steep decline in nuclear power capacity is the “flip side” of the rapid growth in nuclear
power that occurred in the 1970’s and 1980’s, combined with the premature aging and poor
performance that have characterized CANDU technology. The first commercial CANDU power
plants were the four unit stations at Pickering A and Bruce A; the Pickering Station had some
serious problems in the early years of its operation, but in general the early year performance of
the Pickering A and Bruce A stations was satisfactory. It wasn’t until they had been in operation
for ten years that the deterioration in their performance began to materialize. In the largest
nuclear shutdown in world history, these eight reactors were ‘laid up’ (taken out of service for a
long period) between 1995 and 1998, after only 18 to 23 years of operation, because of
accumulating safety and performance problems. Three of these old reactors are having their cores rebuilt– one at Pickering A and two at Bruce A. Ontario Power Generation has suggested
that it would like to rebuild the cores of the remaining three reactors at Pickering A.

Before the extent of the CANDU performance problems became apparent, Ontario Hydro had already committed to building 12 more reactors, and Hydro Québec and New Brunswick Power had also committed to one single-unit CANDU station each. By the spring of 1993, these fourteen reactors were all in operation, but none have been built or ordered since.

These 14 operating reactors are now approaching the end of their expected lifespan, and in the
absence of heroic efforts to rehabilitate these plants and perhaps even with such efforts, by
2019 the output of the Canadian nuclear program will decline to zero. While some argue that
this decline can be reversed or at least arrested by rebuilding the cores of all the reactors (an
operation called “retubing”), it would cost on the order of $15-$20 billion to do that. Moreover,
it is not clear how many more years of operation that would buy before the plants would once
again require multi-billion dollar reconstruction operations.
It is possible that the plants will not be able to operate for the unprecedented 26 years assumed
here. It is also possible that the newer reactors will not perform even as well as the older plants ˜
the Darlington Nuclear Station is the most recent CANDU power plant built and it has the worst
early year performance record in the history of the Canadian nuclear program. We also do not
know whether the reconstruction projects are going to work. Even if the rebuilt reactors perform
like new when restarted (as assumed here), we do not know how quickly their performance will
deteriorate with increasing age. As we have seen with the original Pickering A and Bruce A startups,
even if the rebuilt units work satisfactorily for the first few years after restart, that is no assurance that they will continue to perform as they continue to age. The essential fact remains
that by the year 2020 or sooner the output of Canada’s nuclear program will have declined to
zero in the absence of the risky, multi-billion dollar investments it would take to rebuild the cores
of all the reactors when they reach the end of their current life spans.
At the same time that the aging nuclear plants are reaching the end of their useful lifetimes, the
emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases from coal and oil-fired power plants are of
increasing concern. But our choice need not be between nuclear power and coal; it can be
instead a choice between the unsustainable energy options based on nuclear and coal, and more
sustainable options based on energy conservation, efficiency improvements, cogeneration,
renewables and other alternatives. Seen in this light the decline of the Canadian nuclear program
presents an opportunity for an orderly transition to a more sustainable electricity future.
The technologies that could facilitate a transition away from coal and nuclear power have already
been developed, In the scenario explored in this analysis we present one example of how they
can be combined to meet growing demands for energy services while at the same time reducing
and eventually eliminating reliance on centralized nuclear and fossil fuel power plants. The institutional, policy and business innovations that will be required to mobilize these technologies
on the necessary time scale will vary from province to province, and are not at present well developed. However, change in these areas can take place quickly provided that the possibilities, opportunities and benefits are appreciated and incorporated into policy decisions.

There are five key building blocks to a sustainable transition away from central coal and nuclear
power plants and toward a more sustainable energy future:

1. Improved efficiency of electricity use. This is by far the most important element of any
strategy for a nuclear phase-out and a sustainable, low-emission energy future.

2. A reduction over time in the use of electricity for heat. Electricity is really only essential for about 12-14% of total end use energy, but in all three of Canada’s nuclear provinces it provides a much greater share of energy use because it is used for space heating, water heating and even for industrial boilers. Electricity’s share of the heating market has peaked in all three of these provinces and continues to decline in the scenario presented

3. Industrial Cogeneration. All three of Canada’s nuclear provinces have significant numbers of energy intensive industrial establishments that are prime candidates for electricity cogeneration. In Ontario and New Brunswick, cogeneration is second only to improved efficiency in the size of the contribution it can make to a more sustainable and efficient
electricity supply and demand system.

4. Strengthen East-West Electricity Trade. Both Ontario and New Brunswick are adjacent to
provinces with large, already installed, hydroelectric capacity. There is a case to be made
for greater east-west electricity trade that would allow the Maritimes and Ontario to access this hydroelectricity.

5. New and Renewable Electricity. Over the scenario period (to the year 2020) there will be increasing contributions from wind, solar and biomass electricity. Indications are that growth in wind power will be particularly strong over this period.

These five elements were combined in different ways to produce a scenario for the electricity
systems in Ontario, Québec, and New Brunswick in which all central coal, oil, and nuclear power plants would be phased out by 2020. In general, as shown in Figure ES-3, efficiency improvements can contribute more than cogeneration and renewables combined On the other hand, the potential for cogeneration is at least twice as large as the potential from wind and solar and other renewables. Indeed, the possibility of an eventual transition to a sustainable electricity system depends utterly on the efficiency gains being put in place first.

The technologies employed in this scenario is feasible from both a technological and economic
perspective, but much more organizational and financial innovation is required to realize the potential. When a consumer flicks a light switch, a vast technological, organizational and financial infrastructure is instantaneously available. Multi-billion dollar capital investments and highly evolved business organizations with thousands of employees are dedicated to making it easy and economically efficient to buy and have instantaneously delivered a kilowatt.hour of central grid electricity. On the demand side of the equation however, business and financial organization for the easy, cheap delivery of energy efficiency is not so well organized.

Cameron W said...

A few more interesting links...

Abandon nuclear option, Ontario
Toronto Star - July 25, 2004
by Linda McQuaig

The Negawatt Revolution - Solving the CO2 Problem - Keynote Address by Amory Lovins at the Green Energy Conference

Energy guru sees oil-free world
Lovins' mantra: It 'makes sense and makes money'

Technology is the answer (but what was the question?) - A. Lovins

"...If we want more electricity, we should get it from the cheapest
sources first. In approximate order of increasing price, these include:
• Converting to efficient lighting equipment. This would save the
United States electricity equal to the output of 120 large power
plants, plus $30 billion a year in fuel and maintenance costs.
• Using more efficient motors to save up to half the energy
used by motor systems. This would save electricity equal to
the output of another 150 large power plants and repay the
cost in about a year.
• Eliminating pure waste of electricity, such as lighting empty
offices. Each kilowatt-hour saved can be resold without having to
generate it anew.
• Displacing with good architecture, weatherization, insulation, and
passive and some active solar techniques the electricity now used
for water heating and for space heating and cooling.
• Making appliances, smelters, and the like cost-effectively

Just these five measures can quadruple US. electrical efficiency, making it possible to run today's economy with no changes in lifestyles and using no power plants, whether old or new or fueled with oil, gas, coal, or uranium. We would need only the present hydroelectric capacity, readily available small-scale hydroelectric projects, and a modest amount of wind power.
If we still wanted more electricity, the next cheapest sources would include industrial cogeneration, combined heat-and-power plants,
low-temperature heat engines run by industrial waste heat or by solar
ponds, filling empty turbine bays and upgrading equipment in existing
big dams, modern wind machines or small-scale hydroelectric turbines
in good sites, steam-injected natural-gas turbines, and perhaps recent developments in solar cells with waste-heat recovery..."

Cameron W said...

UK advisers say 'no' to nuclear future - New Scientist

WILL a flourishing nuclear energy industry combat climate change and ensure energy security? Not for the UK, according to a key committee that advises the British government.

In a strongly worded review of the pros and cons of nuclear energy released on Monday, the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) urges the prime minister, Tony Blair, to reject the nuclear option in favour of an "aggressive" expansion of energy efficiency and renewables.

Cameron W said...

Renewable energy 10 times cheaper - July 6, '07

Cost of renewable energy 10 times cheaper than ‘business as usual’ fossil-fuelled future, says breakthrough report

Savings of US $180 billion per year predicted in first global analysis of renewable energy versus fossil fuels

Amsterdam/Brussels, 6th July 2007: Investing in a renewable electricity future will save 10 times the fuel costs of a ‘business as usual’ fossil-fuelled scenario,
saving $180 billion USD annually and cut CO2 emissions in half by 2030, according to a joint report by Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) released today. (1)

In the first global analysis of its kind, “Future Investment - A sustainable Investment Plan for the power sector to save the Climate’, demonstrates a powerful economic argument for a shift in global investments towards renewable energy (including solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and bio energy), within the next 23 years, and away from dangerous coal and nuclear power. The report gives the financial rationale for Greenpeace’s "Energy [R]evolution,"
a blueprint for how to cut global CO2 emissions by 50% by 2050, while maintaining global economic growth (2).

article continued at link above...

Anonymous said...

The California government mandated utilities to introduce progressive steps in energy pricing: the more a business or residence uses, they more they pay. In addition, those who cut their electricity use by 20 percent received a 20 percent rebate on their bill. Power consumption was cut dramatically in just a few weeks. Many jurisdictions around the world have such programs.

D. Bachrach et al. Energy Efficiency Leadership in California: Preventing the Next Crisis. San Francisco: Natural Resources Defense Council, 2003. At:

Cameron W said...

Getting a (Firm) Grip on Renewables

ONE OF THE BIGGEST DRAWBACKS INVESTORS and utilities have found with solar and wind power is that they are “variable.” Simply put: they can’t generate electricity when the sun’s not shining or the wind isn’t blowing. That’s problematic because we’ve grown accustomed to getting energy whenever we want it. Flick a switch and the lights should go on, regardless of whether it’s sunny or windy outside.

In the past, utilities believed that they had to compensate for this variability by installing more traditional, fossil-fueled power plants. The more wind or solar power on the grid, the thinking went, the greater the need for backup generating facilities to be there when the wind or sun wasn’t.

Enter RMI’s Energy & Resources Team. Over the past year, Senior Consultant Lena Hansen has led a series of research projects to rethink the implications of wind and solar’s variability. In the process, she and her colleagues are re-evaluating the economics of putting more renewable energy on the grid.

The key, according to Hansen, is for utility managers to think of all their wind and solar installations as a portfolio.

“No person would invest in just one stock,” says Hansen. In the financial markets, most people forego the huge risks and potentially large gains of owning shares of one company for the reduced risk and smaller rates of return of owning shares in multiple companies, she explains.

Hansen argues that the same should go for utilities investing in wind and solar. “By diversifying the portfolio of sites, you mitigate variability,” she says. “Put another way, the wind blows differently in different locations. So spread out your resource to reduce total variability.”