The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) said investment in efficiency-related technology in the US was worth $300bn in 2004, compared to $100bn in traditional energy.

In a new report prepared in partnership with the Civil Society Institute, ACEEE researchers argue that energy efficiency could be the most significant energy success story of the last 50 years but is also the most invisible and least understood.

The Size of the US Energy Efficiency Market: Generating a More Complete Picture concludes that the US can cost-effectively reduce energy consumption by an additional 25-30% or more over the next 20-25 years if its role is properly recognised.

In a press briefing, John Laitner, ACEEE’s director of economic analysis and a co-author of the report, said: “Although energy efficiency has been the workhorse of the US economy we have hardly exposed the economic potential for an even greater contribution if we choose to develop it.”

He also estimated that the total investment in energy efficiency could grow to more than $700bn a year by 2030.

ACEEE Research Associate Karen Ehrhardt-Martinez, lead author of the report, said this energy efficiency has had great benefits for the environment, as well as the economy, saving 1.7 quadrillion Btus (British thermal units) in energy demand in 2004.

“If we use our energy more wisely, the less money we have to spend on constructing power plants,” she said.

Professor Lloyd Jeff Dumas, chair of the Civil Society Institute Working Group on the Economy and Global Warming, said: “This study sends a powerful message that members of the public, elected officials and corporations can and should look to greater energy efficiency as a comprehensive part of an energy strategy that looks to our future rather than our past.”

He added: “I’m convinced that future investment of the sort needed to achieve energy efficiency advances will come from the grassroots of America.”

Kate Martin

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