Despite growing energy use, for the first time in four decades, global carbon emissions associated with energy consumption remained stable in 2014 as the global economy grew. This stabilization has in part been attributed to increased penetration of renewable energy and to improvements in energy efficiency, both of which have experienced dramatic acceleration in recent years.
The evolution of renewable energy has exceeded all expectations. Global demand for renewables has steadily increased, as has energy consumption, particularly in developing countries. Global installed capacity and production from all renewable energy technologies have likewise increased, as most have seen significant cost reductions worldwide and have reached parity in some markets. As outlined in the REN21 Renewables 2015 Global Status Report, renewable energy targets and support policies have spread throughout the world, now appearing in at least 164 and 145 countries, respectively. (1)
Similarly, energy efficiency measures have increased worldwide. Global energy intensity has consequently decreased at a compounded annual rate averaging about 1.25 per cent between 1990 and 2013, and most world regions achieved improvements in aggregated energy intensity during this period. Energy efficiency targets are now in place at all levels of government. Standards and labelling programmes can be found in at least 81 countries, while standards for electric motors used in industrial applications are in place in at least 44 countries. Furthermore, vehicle fuel economy standards cover approximately 70 per cent of the global light-duty vehicle market. (2)
Just as some countries have been at the forefront of renewable energy deployment and development of renewables support policies, some countries use energy more efficiently than others, and potential savings vary greatly across countries and regions. Nevertheless, in all countries and economic sectors, increased synergies between renewables and energy efficiency measures are possible, and oftentimes strengthening one will, in turn, strengthen the other. In both technical and policy contexts, renewable energy can have a positive effect on energy efficiency--and vice versa.
In basic energy service delivery, potential losses occur at each stage of extraction, transformation, transportation, transmission and end-use. Each of these steps presents opportunities to strengthen the energy efficiency of the overall system...