Globally, energy efficiency represents about 40 percent of the greenhouse gas reduction potential that can be realized at a cost of less than €60 per metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent. In many cases, it is an extremely attractive upfront investment that pays for itself over time, while providing the added benefits of reducing the cost of energy and increasing the energy productivity of the economy. It is not surprising, then, that many governments have emphasized energy-efficiency opportunities during the current economic downturn as a way to stimulate their faltering economies. By focusing funding on energy-efficiency initiatives, governments hope not only to save or create jobs – the primary goal of the spending – but also to reduce domestic dependence on foreign energy supplies and reduce carbon emissions associated with energy use.
This anthology of articles looks at the energy-efficiency opportunity and how to capture it in nations and companies over the next few years. The opportunity to lower energy costs substantially is compelling. The United States, for instance, could realize more than a trillion dollars in energy savings by 2020 if comprehensive efforts are put in place to overcome barriers and improve energy efficiency across the economy.