ACEEE Ranks World’s Largest Economies on Energy Efficiency

(3Bl Media/Justmeans) - We see a lot of analyses and projections showing why renewables, despite their rapid growth will not be able to provide sufficient energy to allow us to get off fossil fuels or nuclear for decades to come. Those analyses are based on assumptions regarding population growth, economic development and rate of energy consumption on a per capita basis.

But if you look at disparities in energy consumption, not just the obvious ones—developed vs. developing countries, but rather between countries and states with similar quality of life, we can see that there are still tremendous opportunities to be in exploited with regard to how efficiently we use energy. As an example, the state of Texas, uses 50% more energy than California, despite California’s 48% larger population.

If forecasts and projections were based on the best populations, who are bound to get even better, rather than the average, these renewable goals might begin to look far more achievable

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) just completed a ranking of the 16 largest economies in the world. Results are somewhat surprising. The US, which likes to think of itself as technologically advanced, actually ranked 13th out of 16, while China, despite its sizeable growing pains, managed to achieve a 4th place rank.

Below is the list in order.

1.            Germany                

2.            Italy

3.            EU

4.            China

5.            France

6.            Japan

7.            UK

8.            Spain

9.            Canada

10.          Australia

11.          India

12.          South Korea

13.          US

14.          Russia

15.          Brazil

16.          Mexico

The ranking are based on thirty-one metrics, divided between policy metrics, which they call national efforts (e.g. national energy savings target, fuel economy standards) and performance metrics (e.g.  Average mpg, energy per square foot in buildings). State and local policies were not included. Performance metrics were divided between Buildings, Industry, and Transportation. These four categories were equally weighted, receiving 25 points apiece.

Winners by category were:

  • Buildings – China
  • Industry – Germany
  • Transportation – Italy
  • Policy – France, Italy, EU (3-way tie)

The fact that Germany’s high score of 65 out of 100 received the top ranking underscores the fact that there is plenty of room for improvement all the way around. The US, which received only 42 points, has plenty of room to improve. These points were divided as follows: Buildings (14). Industry (9 ), Transportation (8 ), Policy(11 ).

Breaking it down even further, the US lost points in the areas of vehicle miles traveled per capita, fuel economy standards for light duty vehicles, use of public transportation, and investment in rail.

In the Industry category, we lost points for: energy mandates for plant managers, energy audits, and agricultural energy intensity.

In Buildings, the US got dinged for building labeling, energy intensity in commercial buildings and building retrofit policies,

In National Effort, we lost points for mandatory energy savings goals and water efficiency policy.

Some people might be surprised at China’s high ranking. They did very well in buildings (19). Their lowest score was in industry (13)where they go dinged for the energy intensity of the industrial sector and investment in manufacturing R&D, two areas where the US did well.

Germany’s lowest score was also 13, in the transportation sector. It got dinged for not having fuel efficiency standards for heavy duty trucks.

Italy was a surprise, topping the transportation category. It did well with fuel economy standards for light duty vehicles, investment in rail, and freight transport per unit of economic activity.

This report forms a nice companion piece to a review I did recently of ranking of US cities and states by Clean Edge.  As I said then, “This type of ranking system, despite being imperfect and sometimes heavily skewed by the criteria (and definitions used in developing that criteria, e.g. per capita basis) and weightings, can still be very useful to show overall trends and relative behaviors.”

Clearly, it gives national policy officials a clear insight into areas where they can improve.

Image credit ACEEE