Improvements in energy efficiency over the past thirty years means that there are 14 fewer power stations operating today than would have been needed, had Britain remained as energy inefficient as it was in 1980.
The use of more energy efficient technologies has meant that the energy intensity of British industry had nearly halved over the period. This calculation is made by comparing the amount and value of goods produced with the levels of energy inputted.
These calculations form part of the first-ever report, called “Invisible Energy”, issued by the Association for Decentralised Energy, formerly the Combined Heat & Power Association. The report argues that businesses and consumers are effectively saving £32.7bn each year as a result of investments in energy demand, rather than supply, side measures.
Speaking at the launch, Energy Secretary Ed Davey stressed the continuing potential for energy efficiency, to reduce the need for new power sources. He cited a report the consultants McKinseys had undertaken for his Department in 2012. This had shown that energy efficiency was the most cost-effective option for addressing both energy security and carbon reductions. It estimated that the technical potential to cut demand by 38 per cent available via existing energy efficiency measures.
“I want Britain to get as close as possible to using only the energy we really need. We could be saving 196TWh in 2020, equivalent to 22 power stations through socially cost-effective investment in energy efficiency”.
However, ADE is criticising the balance of this existing policy. Director, Dr Tim Rotheray, said: “Current policy on energy security focuses only on the tiny amount of energy (15 per cent) that we use at final demand. There is little or no focus on the 84 per cent we lose before it reaches the user.”