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Germany tops energy efficiency scorecard

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Results of the newly released 2016 International Energy Efficiency Scorecard reveal that no country is a candidate for the Dean’s list. Germany tops the rankings of 23 countries that account for three quarters of world energy consumption and 80 per cent of gross domestic product with a score of 73.5 out of 100. The average score is 51, although eliminating Saudi Arabia’s exceptionally low 15.5-point performance would push it up to almost 53.

“Energy efficiency remains massively underutilized globally despite its proven multiple benefits and its potential to become the single largest resource to meet growing energy demand worldwide,” observes Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), which produced the scorecard.

Participating countries have been assessed on 35 criteria, with up to 25 points attainable in each of four categories: buildings; industry; transportation; and national efforts to promote energy efficiency. These include policy initiatives such as regulations, government spending and goal setting, and performance measures such as energy intensity, fuel economy, capacity and efficiency of power supply and public transit ridership.

More points (60) are allocated to policy, in part to recognize the difficulty of accurately comparing performance arising from many different conditions. For example, the summary report highlights two major factors for Canada when it notes: “Climate heavily influences the energy used for heating and cooling buildings, while land area and topography affect energy used for transportation.”

A maximum of four points are assigned for energy intensity in commercial and residential buildings, with much more emphasis on appliance and equipment standards, building codes and retrofit requirements. Meanwhile, one of the key performance measures — change in the country’s energy intensity between 2000 and 2013 — rewards the rate of improvement rather than actual performance. Thus, Russia received a full six points for this metric, while Germany received four.

Canada attained 59 points to place 10th among the surveyed countries — behind the United States, which scored 61.5, and just ahead of the Netherlands, which scored 58. The greatest share of Canada’s points (17.5) were secured in the buildings category, while the 17 points achieved for national efforts propelled it to its highest ranking (4th) in the categories. In contrast, Canada underperformed in industry and transportation — positioned 14th in both categories.

“Canada has taken steps to improve the benchmarking and labelling of energy use in its buildings. National tax incentives exist in multiple sectors to help reach efficiency targets, but government investment in energy efficiency remains low and R&D is only moderate,” the reports states. “Canada would benefit from establishing a mandate for plant energy managers and mandatory energy audits (in the industrial sector). Just  5 per cent of the electricity consumed by the industrial sector is generated by combined heat and power.”

Germany ranked first in three of four categories, but fell to 10th for transportation. ACEEE analysts commend the country’s goal to reduce primary energy consumption to 80 per cent of 2008 levels by 2020 and to 50 per cent by 2050. The national energy strategy, known as Energiewende, includes significant targets for cogeneration, requirements for building performance and funding to help accomplish it.

“Our latest program, the National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency, focuses on innovative industrial processes, energy-efficient buildings and products, and long-term investments,” adds Georg Maue, a senior advisor with Germany’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy.

The seven surveyed countries that are member states in the European Union all outperformed the average, from Germany atop the energy efficiency scorecard to Poland, in the 12th slot, with 53.5 points. “The EU countries stood out for having aggressive national energy savings targets as well as programs such as loans and tax incentives to encourage private investment in energy efficiency,” the report notes.

That said, the United Kingdom — ranked 5th with a score of 65 — was admonished for recent backtracking on policies and targets and the cancellation of its Green Deal program, which provided funding for energy retrofits.

“Relative to some other countries, the United Kingdom still has some good policies and programs in place; however these are much weaker than they have been in the past and will be affected by the outcome of the country’s vote to leave the European Union,” the report submits. “The collapse of building retrofit policy since 2012 and the subsequent lack of ambition require major policy change.”

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