30 years of energy efficiency, 14 fewer power stations for UK
Improved energy efficiency has helped the UK avoid building 14 new power stations according to a new report from the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE).
The report, called Invisible Energy, finds that that demand side investments – such as efficiency and onsite generation – are currently saving businesses £37.2bn on their energy bills every year.
For example, on-site generation allows a business to fully utilise the vast majority of energy created, as opposed to the grid system, where '84% of energy is lost before it reaches the user' thanks to inefficient infrastructure and kit.
Reduced energy intensity has also eliminated 462 million tonnes of CO2 emissions every year.
ADE director Tim Rotheray hopes the report will alert policymakers to the underappreciated benefits of demand side measures, which are often cheaper to implement than large scale renewable energy generation.
"Despite these considerable achievements, new energy policy often repeats the same patterns, taking a centralised approach to solving the energy challenge and overlooking the substantial contribution that users and individual actions can make.
"With a clear, simple policy approach that values these smaller contributions, demand side services can help consumers do even more to cut waste, improve competitiveness and reduce emissions. By 2020, we could save consumers a further £5.6bn and make the UK a more attractive place to do business."
The figures are based on a comparison of energy intensity per unit of GDP in 1980, and 2012, revealing that efficiency measures have saved 28GW, equivalent to the output of 14 power stations.
Looking ahead to 2020, Invisible Energy uses DECC's estimate that 108TWh of additional energy efficiency opportunity is achievable in the industrial, commercial, and public sectors.
"By highlighting the value, we hope this report will transform the debate – moving the demand side from the margins to centre stage, making it the primary focus of future policy so that the cost of our energy can be managed and kept secure as we move to a low carbon economy," concluded the report.