Policies will fail to deliver on energy efficiency potential

Under existing policies most viable energy efficiency potential will fail to be realised between now and 2035, says a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA). This is partly because energy efficiency is routinely and significantly undervalued, it asserts.

The IEA study assesses the value of energy efficiency, demonstrating how it has the potential to support economic growth, enhance social development, advance environmental sustainability, ensure energy-system security and help build wealth.

The report, Capturing the multiple benefits of energy efficiency, finds:

  • The potential for job creation ranges from eight to 27 job years per EUR1m invested in energy efficiency measures
  • Energy efficiency in buildings has been calculated to have a value of EUR30bn to EUR40bn to the European public budget. When tax revenues and reduced unemployment payments are factored in, the value rises to EUR67bn to EUR128bn
  • Studies looking at total impacts of energy efficiency retrofits have found benefit:cost ratios as high as 4:1 when health and wellbeing impacts were included, with health benefits representing up to 75% of overall benefits. Improved mental health has in some cases represented as much as half of total health benefits. Addressing indoor air quality through energy efficiency measures could save the European Union’s economy as much as EUR190bn a year
  • The uptake of economically viable energy efficiency investments has the potential to boost cumulative economic output through to 2035 by US$18 trillion – larger than the current size of the economies of the US, Canada and Mexico combined.

IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven said, “This report lays out the case for governments to invest more time in measuring the impacts of energy efficiency policies, to improve understanding of their role in boosting economic and social development and to facilitate policy design that maximises the benefits prioritised by each country.”

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