A Comprehensive Energy Productivity Portfolio

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Like a good financial portfolio, it appears that diversification is a successful strategy for America’s Energy Productivity according to the environmental action group, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). But, the NRDC notes that while the energy portfolio clearly should include a combination of all energies, the single most effective tool in maximizing our energy portfolio is to reduce consumption, extracting the most out of every energy dollar spent.

The NRDC’s report which was released on October 8, 2013 cites that because “the United States has found so many innovative ways to save energy, the nation has more than doubled its economic productivity from oil, natural gas, and electricity over the past 40 years.” This translates to energy efficiency contributing more to meet the nation’s needs than all other resources combined.

Maximizing our energy efficiency is paying off. The energy efficiency turnaround is documented by an NRDC analysis demonstrating energy use below that of 1999 levels despite a 25 percent growth in the economy over the same period. The NRDC reports that, “Factories and businesses are producing substantially more products and value with less energy; the amount of gasoline per mile driven is down; and the cost of all energy services (from lighting to refrigeration) also has decreased.” This makes the United States less dependent upon foreign resources and more competitive.

Further good news is that in addition to saving billions of dollars in savings, climate-warming carbon dioxide pollution is down, putting the country on track to meet the Obama administration goal of reducing by 17% over the next seven years.

The salient contributing energy savings highlights include a package of serious reductions and efficiencies in each of the following categories: electricity, oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear, renewable energy led by wind but supported by solar as well.

Regulatory changes are also benefiting the bottom line by providing energy efficiency standards and financial incentives. These changes are also setting new fuel standards to reduce oil imports by more than 2 billion barrels per day.

NRDC projects that on its present trajectory, energy consumption will be cut by an additional 23 percent by 2020 saving nearly $700 billion that will be spent elsewhere. This will in turn, create an estimated 900,000 jobs. This will be accomplished by continuing to upgrade our real estate and its infrastructure; continue to tighten efficiency standards for buildings, equipment and vehicles; and rethink state regulations for encouraging consumer energy savings programs.

So while necessary to consider all forms of energy use the method that contributes the most to the bottom line is consumption reduction and resource efficiency.

More information can be found at NRDR.org.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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