2 responses to “Hot topic: The many benefits of energy efficiency”

  1. Peter Bartlett

    While I commend Ms. Moscoso-Osterkorn on her effective defence of energy efficiency, I have to note that the original claims by Jenkins and Saunders still remain, at least from my point of view. Their focus was on the climate change effects of energy efficiency – no doubt that they would also agree that there are other economic and social benefits to implementing energy efficiency.

    Their “rebound effect” theory also focused on the developing nations and their thirst for development and more energy. The reply gave excellent counterexamples but mainly from the US and Japan. Where developing nations were mentioned, the examples are skewed – for example, how many Ghanaians will continue purchasing and using CFLs, once the original supply needs replacement? And if Thailand really saved 1,725 MW of peak power (or is that 1.725 MW?), did this offset the need for new electricity generation or did this just shift consumption to other uses as the rebound effect claims?

    Don’t get me wrong – I agree with Ms. Moscoso-Osterkorn’s wider claims on energy efficiency and am a big proponent of the same – I am just wondering if her response missed the point in this case.

  2. Marianne Osterkorn

    I fully agree with Mr Bartlett’s sentiment, but I believe that the impact of the rebound effect is fundamentally different between developed and developing countries. There is no doubt that the rebound effect exists and that it can affect climate change in a negative way. In countries where energy access is not an issue – like developed countries – rebound can indeed lead to increase in use and carbon emissions. In developing countries, energy efficiency will not only facilitate energy access for the poor, it will also act as an alternative to fossil fuel energy production. If a farmer saves energy by using an efficient bulb, he can light his second bulb with the energy he is saving instead of starting up his diesel generator or burning more wood.

    Positive examples from Japan and California highlight that policy intervention and public support can change consumer patterns and these success stories should serve as guidelines for others. In Ghana, nobody can force people to buy CFLs once they need replacement. But the huge market created through this governmental programme, lowers the price of CFLs which makes them affordable to everybody.