How to reduce global energy consumption? The recipe is very simple

Luc Williams

It is estimated that humanity wastes about a third of the total energy produced on extracting, refining and transporting fossil fuels. Raw Petroleum it's actually useless. Only after processing it in a refinery, using large energy resources, gasoline (e.g. aviation fuel), heating oil or other fractions used in the petrochemical industry makes it useful. The CO2 and other greenhouse gases emitted additionally deepen climate change. According to a new study by Colorado-based RMI advisory team, transition to clean energy maybe also bring savings,reaching USD 4.6 trillion per year.

How to make better use of fossil fuels?

Another 30 percent of the world's total energy is wasted on burning fossil fuels in highly inefficient machines. For example car powered by fossil fuels uses only one quarter of the energy to move contained in gasoline. Electric car processes over three quarters of the energy contained in the battery for a ride. Similarly, during burning one unit of natural gas in a boiler, is produced one unit of heat. Electric heat pump uses one unit of electricity to be delivered three units of heat.

Share of fossil fuels in energy | If the world gets on track to meet climate goals, the energy system will use much less fossil fuels and operate much more efficiently / Bloomberg

Energy security in a new way

“There is plenty of room for increasing (energy) efficiency” – said Daan Walter from RMI. “Most discussions about energy security are about securing energy suppliesbut very little is said about that reducing energy demand also helps maintain energy security.” That's why the white paper co-authored by Walter and his colleagues at RMI is titled: “The Incredible Inefficiency of the Fossil Energy System.”

Without alternatives to fossil fuels this amazing one inefficiency would only be a cost of doing business. However, as the world begins produce more energy from renewable sources and gives up energy-consuming devices in favor of more efficient ones, the overall system efficiency increases.

Bold new goals

On last year's COP28 climate summit in Dubai participating countries emphasized two main goals that the world will have to face in the near future. These are tripling energy production from renewable sources and doubling energy efficiency machines, buildings, etc. International Energy Agency published its report on the renewable energy target on June 4. It follows that it is possible to in 2030, there was 2.2 times more energy from renewable sources in the world than in 2022. But even if all COP28 signatories implement their promises 100%, the amount of renewable energy will still be too small to achieve the triple target set in Dubai.

About implementation energy efficiency goals no report yet. However, based on the data we already have, we can draw some conclusions. This goal is defined in terms improving the energy intensity of the economyThat is the amount of energy needed to generate a dollar of economic activity.

Over the last few decades energy intensity of the economy, i.e. its energy efficiency, grew at a rate of 1%. up to 2 percent annually, while global economic growth remains at around 3%. This means that even when world economy is becoming more and more energy efficient, this is still not enough to reduce the total amount of energy used in the world. Only doubling energy efficiency to 4%. per year would help the world use less energy, even if economic growth remained the same.

Energy losses | Burning fossil fuels turns only a small part of them into useful energy / Bloomberg

Purpose regarding renewable energy is difficult to achieve, but the pressure to achieve it is likely to be stronger than that behind the scope goal energy efficiency. “Very few people have any idea what this means or whether it is possible,” Walter said. This is because energy efficiency is not conducive to heated discussions, he added. It may also be because steps to achieve this goal, such as better building insulation or energy management software, are not “sexy” solutions.


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