FORESIGHT Climate & Energy 14
A NEW RELATIONSHIP WITH ENERGY
Net-zero is made easier by the efficient use of energy
For a successful transition, we need to make sure the energy we use is used in a smarter, greener way. The current energy crisis which has seen household bills skyrocket makes the need for energy efficiency even more relevant. As we find in these pages, electrification alone will somewhat reduce energy demand. But bringing demand and consumption down further, and using electricity in smarter, more efficient ways, makes the goal of the energy transition more attainable, more quickly.
What was not predicted when we first started work on this issue was a second crisis: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing geopolitical fallout. Europe’s lawmakers have turbocharged efforts to cut the region’s dependence on Russian oil and gas, which is putting greater focus on clean energy and energy efficiency in buildings.
But there are other ways more efficient use of energy can help, beyond the triple glazing and roof insulation. New transport business models can ensure we maximise the use of electric vehicles; different technologies or materials can see industry reduce its heavy emissions load; while more efficient electrolysers may help with green hydrogen’s inherent problems.
The combination of today’s crises—energy prices, the war in Ukraine and energy security, plus climate change—all off the back of two years of a global pandemic, means the energy efficiency, particularly in buildings, is experiencing a renaissance in the collective consciousness. The story that emerges in our 14th print issue of FORESIGHT Climate & Energy is that energy efficiency must go hand in hand with a switch to renewables for the energy transition to succeed.
The point is made repeatedly in these pages but Stephen Richardson from the World Green Building Council sums it up best: “This is probably the most high-profile that building energy consumption’s ever been on the political spectrum, going back to the oil shocks of the 1970s,” he says. “If energy efficiency is not addressed as part of the response, it’s a real missed opportunity.”
Energy efficiency can no longer be the forgotten fuel of the energy transition it once was. •
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