How well does the US, Italy and Germany rank among energy efficiency?
This was a year of success for Germany, which is the world champion also for energy efficiency according to the global ranking compiled by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). Germany is followed by Italy, with its transportation and mobility initiatives and its national efforts in terms of energy efficiency polities. The United States is only 13th out of the world’s 16 largest economies included in the ranking.
This was the second edition of the “International Energy Efficiency Scorecard,” which has taken into account four main categories: transportation, buildings, industry and national efforts. For each category, a maximum of 25 points are assigned, for a total of 100. While Germany scored 65, with 64 points, Italy was only one point away from the world champion. Not too bad for a country where infrastructure investments have progressively decreased over the last few years.
U.S. Congressman Peter Welch (Vermont) said: “There’s really no excuse for the U.S. lagging behind other nations on energy efficiency. States like Vermont have demonstrated that energy efficiency saves money, reduces environmental impact, and creates jobs. And, in an environment of gridlock, there is bipartisan common ground on this issue in Congress. I hope the 2014 International Scorecard is a wakeup call that it’s time for America to step-up and lead on energy efficiency.”
Looking more closely at individual categories, Germany also ranked first for “industry”, and some best practices, particularly in the manufacturing sector, are highlighted. The German government, in fact, has developed a series of incentive packages for interventions aimed at machinery replacement/revamping and at the introduction of innovative technologies. In addition, new high-efficiency motors and new air-conditioning and compressed air systems are funded for 30% by public funds.
Immediately after Germany, in the “industry” category, comes Italy, awarded especially for the co-generation incentive policies promoted from the mid-90s onwards (from the incentive program CIP / 6 in favor of electricity produced from renewable sources to the legislative decree 20/2007 in favor of cogeneration plants). In fact, the study recognizes that Italy made strong efforts in fostering efficient technologies, from inverters to high-efficiency motors and mechanical vapor compression (RMV). On the contrary, the Italian score is low when it comes to mandatory energy efficiency audits. However, a few weeks ago, the European directive on energy efficiency was applied in Italy, and it will include new requirements for energy companies to implement regular energy audit.
As mentioned, Italy ranks first in terms of transportation and national efforts. Let’s see why.
As for transportation, the criteria taken into account were, for example, miles traveled per-capita, the amount of fuel consumed for freight and passengers, the use of public transportation, investment in rail infrastructure. Italy was the highest-scoring country due in large part to its advances in passenger-vehicle energy efficiency. Italy has low vehicle miles traveled per capita, high passenger-vehicle fuel economy, and progressive light-duty fuel economy standards (following under the EU’s mandate). The national government has provided incentives to encourage consumers to replace old vehicles with new, clean vehicles and has invested in a rail network both for high-speed trains and to improve the transport of goods. On the freight side, Italy has low freight transport per unit economic activity.
Italy also ranks first, along with France, in terms of national efforts, thanks to its public investment policies and tax incentives in the industrial and private sector. Its performance in terms of buildings is weaker, especially with regards to commercial buildings which are still considered quite inefficient.
The picture is therefore quite positive for Italy in the field of energy efficiency. However, there is still a lot of work to do for all the countries involved in the ranking and the application of the European directive on energy efficiency will certainly be of great help for European countries.
Rachel Young, ACEEE research analyst and lead author of the report said, “Countries that use energy more efficiently use fewer resources to achieve the same goals, thus reducing costs, preserving valuable natural resources, and gaining a competitive edge over other countries. In the United States, we need to do more on energy efficiency to remain competitive in an increasingly tough global marketplace.”
This article was originally published in Italian on Now How, a sustainability web magazine powered by Stantec in Italy.