By Roy L Hales
Germany leads the World in energy efficiency, according to the 2014 scorecard released by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) today. Sixteen nations were studied. Six of the top 10 were from Europe. Canada was the only North American nation to make the cut, placing 9th.
“Germany is a prime example of a nation that has made energy efficiency a top priority,” ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel said in a press release. “The United States, long considered an innovative and competitive world leader, has progressed slowly and has made limited progress since our last report, even as Germany, Italy, China, and other nations surge ahead.”
German Trade and Invest issued a press release noting that:
The study praised Germany’s comprehensive energy strategy and awarded the country maximum points for its building codes, retrofit policies, and tax credit and loan programs.
“Germany’s commitment to creating a framework that encourages investment in energy efficiency has made it a world-leading market in the field,” says Henning Ellermann, energy efficiency industry expert at Germany Trade & Invest.
For example, Germany’s state development bank’s building renovation loan program stimulated private investments of over EUR 34 billion (USD 46 billion) in 2013, government figures show. Germany also offers SMEs subsidies of up to 30% for improvements to the efficiency of their manufacturing processes made by upgrading technology and equipment
The ACEEE report lauded Germany’s target of a 20% reduction in primary energy consumption by 2020 and 50% by 2050, compared to 2008 levels, and awarded the country first place for energy efficiency in the industrial sector.
“We are doing well but there are still a lot of untapped business opportunities in the German energy efficiency sector that make great economic sense even without subsidies,” says Ellermann, who assists companies looking to establish a presence in Germany.
The EU intends to establish a near zero energy standard for all new buildings by 2012.
“For Germany’s construction sector — the largest in the EU — the Energy Saving Ordinance will have a major impact,” Ellermann said. “The regulations call for a 25 percent reduction in energy use for all new residential and non-residential buildings built from January 1, 2016. As of 2021, the EU’s nearly zero energy standard will apply to all new buildings.”
Italy was only one point behind Germany and was given the highest marks for transportation.
The 28 member European Union was evaluated as one country and placed third overall, behind two of its members. The EU, France and Italy tied on their scores for national energy efficiency efforts.
Canada’s relative strong standing, in North America, came about because it has “energy-savings targets in place and (is) offering incentives and loans for efficiency improvements.” The marks for buildings were also good: Canada, Australia and Spain tied for 6th in this category.
We never-the less “scored low in industrial efficiency and would benefit from establishing a mandate for plant energy managers and mandatory energy audits.”
Canada was among the worst nations in terms of the “number of vehicle miles traveled per person,” only exceeded by the US and Australia and scored lowest in terms of total energy consumption.
The report’s evaluation of the US was scathing, using terms like “inefficiency,” “a tremendous waste of energy resources and money” and “limited progress.”
“How can the United States compete in a global economy if it continues to waste money and energy that other industrialized nations save and can reinvest?” the authors ask.
U.S. Congressman Peter Welch (Vermont) said: “There’s really no excuse for the U.S. lagging behind other nations on energy efficiency.