[24] Efficiency is part of the licence to combust

For thermal power stations, the licence to operate will increasingly depend on a number of conditions, such as the use of renewable fuels, the efficient conversion of combustion energy into electricity, the use of residual heat through district heating systems, or carbon capture and storage.

Not all of these conditions need to be in place everywhere. We can easily imagine some winning combinations.

[23] A necessary but not sufficient condition for making a building smart

Without a building automation and control system (BACS), a smart meter is rather limited in the energy conservation it enables.

BACS promote energy efficiency, while ensuring that rooms have heating and lighting when occupied. It allows outside temperature to be monitored, and adjusts internal comfort accordingly.

BACS also allows buildings to be responsive to the needs of the electricity system, e.g heating up buffers when energy demand is low, and postponing heating demand when the grid is strained.

[22] Efficiency or conservation

We implement efficiency measures, and electricity consumption increases. Have we done something wrong? Not necessarily: when we use electricity for more energy services, we’re comparing apples with oranges.

Energy efficiency works well as a technical metric for individual energy services. For systems such as homes, buildings, organisations or cities, in which energy consumption is the aggregate of many services, measuring efficiency is much more complicated (yet it is where the biggest savings are).

Note also the difference between energy efficiency (doing more with less) and energy conservation (doing less). The latter is the bigger challenge.

[21] Is the data industry efficient and sustainable?

Data is the industry of the 21st century. Money, markets, reputation and trust are becoming increasingly digital. This is also the case for energy and services. Data is the raw material of the 21st century. It’s essential that its storage, protection, management, distribution and access are both energy efficient and powered by renewables.

Fortunately, data appears to be less energy-intensive than materials, and major actors in this sector are already making investments into sustainable energy. For example, Google procures as much renewables as it consumes on an annual basis. Next step is to balance on hourly basis.

[20] Efficiency is a moving target

Europe has made an impressive step forward in energy efficiency over the past years, mainly thanks to policy and regulation. The implementation of #Ecodesign and Energy Labelling Directives is estimated to save 175 Mtoe primary energy per year by 2020, which corresponds to 19% savings with respect to business-as-usual energy use for those products. Thanks to this, for example on motor efficiency, the EU is now a global front-runner, whereas ten years ago it was still lagging behind the US. But at the same time, the aim should be to realize all energy efficiency measures that are cost-effective from a lifecycle point of view. To achieve this goal, a lot of work still remains to be done.