This article looks into the most important idea in energy efficiency. Also notice the way I said idea rather than technology as that is exactly what we are going to look at today.
I have been a fan of Amory Lovins and the work that the Rocky Mountain Institute put out for a while. This week I was reading his paper How big is the energy efficiency resource? It was published in Environmental Research Letters in 2018. I was totally blown away by his findings, which could have a really big impact on sustainability.
Amory debunks the commonly held perception that energy efficiency is plagued by a problem of low hanging fruit, where easy gains will be made early on and gains will become progressively harder as time passes. This is based on a theoretical construct, that works well in textbooks, but is not born out in reality.
I am minded to quote the great Yogi Berra who once remarked that: “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.” This is why it is important to test theories to see if they are actually correct.
I could not do it justice by paraphrasing, so I have pasted Amory Lovins’s research finding in full below:
“The efficiency resource far exceeds the sum of savings by individual technologies because artfully choosing, combining, sequencing, and timing fewer and simpler technologies can save more energy at lower cost than deploying more and fancier but dis-integrated and randomly timed technologies. Such ‘integrative design’ is not yet widely known or applied, and can seem difficult because it is simple, but is well proven, rapidly evolving, and gradually spreading.”
This finding that integrative design and not more and fancier widgets is the key to energy efficiency is extremely powerful. Unfortunately, it goes against a lot of our human instincts which probably explains its slow uptake. But there is always time to turn that around.
What you need to know
This article looked into the most important idea in energy efficiency.
It was based upon Amory Lovins’s 2018 paper How big is the energy efficiency resource?
His finding that integrative design unlocks far more potential than individually targeted initiatives may be the most important idea in energy efficiency.
Thank you for reading,
By Barnaby Nash
Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think the most important idea in energy efficiency is?
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