Over the course of the years I have discovered a few Youtube channels that complement my research and sectorial intelligence work on energy / sustainability / climate. One of my latest favorites is Just Have a Think, by David Borlace. With over 545,000 subscribers at the time of writing, his weekly very well put videos showcase stellar research on new technologies or current topics, with just a little bit of humour.
Recently, his video ” Does energy efficiency just makes us use more stuff “ delved into the famous Jevons Paradox :
The video gives many very interesting facts and figures. So let’s review them quickly :
The video starts with research from the US NGO Environmental Defense Fund stating that ” Americans spend $350 billion a year on electricity – with three-quarters of the energy going to waste.” As you probably know, coal, natural gas and nuclear plants vent off two thirds of the generated energy as waste heat. This staggering energy inefficiency is nuts when one thinks of energy scarcity and the climate emergency we are in.
As an aside, the six solutions advocated are as follow : 1. Switch to renewable energy ; 2. Reduce methane leaks ; 3. Pick power sources that use less water ; 4. Minimize energy loss along wires ; 5. Give people only the voltage they need ; 6. Boost energy-saving tools for homes.
The video goes on with David quoting the International Energy Agency’s data driven work. Their latest energy efficiency report was released around COP 28 and brings many an interesting fact and figure. Among them around the 4.20 mark a chart with the primary energy intensity of countries or group of countries. Russia, Africa and China being the most inefficient and the European Union being the most energy efficient.
According to the IEA, there has been a major escalation in energy efficiency since 2022, with “investment in energy efficiency is up to 45% since 2020”. Electric cars now represent a fifth of all cars being sold in the world and heat pumps outsell gas boilers in most markets. These are good signs of the global decarbonization of our global economies.
Energy effiicency is the first fuel for the IEA‘s executive director, as shown in an extract of a video featuring Fatih Birol. To this effect, still according to the agency, doubling energy efficiency improvement from 2% to 4% would reduce energy bills by a third in “advanced” countries and would contribute about 50% of the necessary emissions cuts by 2030, a staggering 7 billion tons of CO2 per annum. This would also create 4.5 Million jobs globally.
To this affect, the EU improved their energy intensity by 8 percent in 2022 alone, while the US managed a 4 percent improvement. The video goes on then about something I blogged about, namingly how sales of gas powered vehicles have already peaked.
LED lights, electric motors, building regulations… Is energy efficiency finally getting into the limelight and joining renewables in the fight on runaway climate change ?
I applaud for talking about the “absolutely fundamental paradigm shift taking place” right now taking places with energy efficiency. Between renewable energy supply and potential AI solution of flexibility, smart solutions can have a staggering impact on slashing energy use. I shall get back to this very topic soon.