‘Invisible' U.S. Energy Boom

July 1, 2008
Energy efficiency may be the farthest-reaching, least-polluting, and fastest-growing energy success story of the last 50 years, but it's also the most invisible and the least understood, and in serious danger of missing out on needed future investments. A new report from the Washington, D.C.-based American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) shows that U.S. energy consumption (as measured per dollar of economic output) will be greatly reduced by the end of 2008 to half of what it was in 1970, from 18,000 BTUs to about 8,900 BTUs.

In The Size of the U.S. Energy Efficiency Market: Generating a More Complete Picture, ACEEE finds that "... our nation is not aware of the role that energy efficiency has played in satisfying our growing energy-service demands ... The contributions of energy efficiency often remain invisible." The report also notes that, although efficiency is a proven resource, it remains underdeveloped.

Key findings of the report include:
  • Given the right choices and investments in the many cost-effective, but underutilized, energy-efficient technologies, the United States can cost-effectively reduce energy consumption by an additional 25 to 30 percent or more over the next 20 to 25 years.
  • Annual investments in energy-efficient technologies currently support 1.6 million U.S. jobs. The $300 billion invested in energy efficiency in 2004 was three times the amount invested in traditional energy infrastructure.
  • Since 1970, energy efficiency has met about 75 percent of the demand for new energy-related services while conventional energy supply has covered only 25 percent of this demand.
  • Total investments in more energy-efficient technologies could increase the annual energy-efficiency market by nearly $400 billion.

The full report can be downloaded free of charge at http://aceee.org/pubs/e083.htm.

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