The more I delve into energy and climate issues, the more this seems completely evident: we should prefer energy efficiency and sobriety over renewables.
Making efficiency a priority – whereas renewables are the priority nowadays – will without a doubt benefit the consumer, the society as a whole and our common environment. This would be a win-win-win move.
I recently read about a woman in Vermont who more than halved the energy consumption of her house for $4300 (3000€).
What if all houses in the USA or Europe grabbed the low hanging fruits of energy efficiency? Minimum investments, huge returns…
I know this is most certainly an extreme example, but even so, in this economy, we have to do what saves money first. The cost of renewables are sure going down, solar and wind might compete with fossil fuels by the end of the decade, but we still need to tap into the opportunities of consuming less.
I believe renewables are part of the solution, and a huge part of it. They simply aren’t the cheapest nor the best solution available.
Indeed, energy sobriety can help large communities to slash by at least 15 percent their electricity consumption. We have seen it recently with the situation in Japan. This could lead to huge amounts of avoided CO2 emissions if it helped closing coal-fired plants all around the world.
But the silver bullet, the panacea to our energy and climate woes is most certainly, even undoubtedly, energy conservation / efficiency. As I noted back to 2009 on my blog:
Climate change is a huge problem and it has to be solved fast if we want to prevent the worst from occurring. Meanwhile, the current economic downturn makes it hard to implement costly and high tech solutions.
Three different studies point to the same conclusion: energy conservation is the cheapest solution to decrease our greenhouse gas emissions. As a matter of fact, it could enable us to save a lot of money.
One could imagine that the savings brought by such projects could finance more expansive ones like solar, wind or nuclear plants.
My opinion hasn’t changed one bit. Luckily, it seems more and more people are seeing the benefits of such moves…
Image credit : Greener Leith.