Category Archives: Energy Saving Efficiency

IEA analyses pandemic effects on Energy Efficiency objectives

The IEA (International Energy Agency) has published its Energy Efficiency 2020 report, as the latest in its annual overviews of worldwide developments in energy efficiency. The report gives a comprehensive appraisal of the issue through the analysis of energy data, policy decisions and technological trends.

These yearly updates by the IEA are always worth studying, but last year provided unique circumstances due to the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. The IEA states that: “Since 2015, global improvements in energy efficiency, as measured by primary energy intensity, have been declining. The Covid-19 crisis adds an extra level of stress. As a result of the crisis and continuing low energy prices, energy intensity is expected to improve by only 0.8% in 2020, roughly half the rates, corrected for weather, for 2019 (1.6%) and 2018 (1.5%). This is well below the level needed to achieve global climate and sustainability goals.”

The pandemic has had dramatic effects on the priorities of the present and has created a huge degree of uncertainty about the future. The economic crisis caused by Covid-19 restrictions is likely to delay new investment in energy efficient technologies, with business spending on efficiency measures “facing pressure as energy prices remain low.”

Building back better

building back better after the pandemic

In our previous blog entry late last year, we stated that: “When the pandemic ends, energy efficiency improvements will be more important than ever.” The idea of an end to the risk of coronavirus seems, with the passing of time, to have been over-optimistic. The virus has shown it has the ability to mutate at an alarming rate and it may well remain an unwelcome presence requiring regular vaccination programmes to keep it at bay.

However, we believe that the key element of that statement remains true. Energy efficiency not only benefits environmental sustainability but also reduces operating costs for businesses and households alike. It can be seen as an aid rather than a hindrance to economic recovery.

Having described the negative impact of Covid-19 on energy efficiency developments, the IEA also adds a note of optimism: “On the other hand, the socio-economic benefits of energy efficiency are now becoming widely recognised. Governments are starting to rise to the challenge of “building back better” from this crisis, announcing billions of dollars in stimulus spending to increase energy efficiency, particularly in buildings and transport.”

Hopefully, this policy of “building back better” will be a lasting legacy of Covid-19. Governments worldwide have found a common purpose in fighting the pandemic, and if similar global efforts were applied to actions on energy efficiency, the results could be very significant.

Energy Efficiency is a Top Priority for 2020

The IEA (International Energy Agency) report “Energy Efficiency 2019” has extremely disappointing findings about worldwide progress towards this all important objective.

Commenting on the report, the IEA’s Executive Director stated that “The historic slowdown in energy efficiency – the lowest rate of improvement since the start of the decade – calls for bold action by policy makers and investors.”

A number of reasons are cited for this poor energy efficiency performance, ranging from rising industrial production in the USA and China to the impact of weather conditions and from consumer preference for larger cars to the increase in device ownership.

Many factors have been responsible for thwarting the aim of the IEA’s Efficient World Strategy to achieve a 3% average annual improvement in energy efficiency.

Lost economic opportunity

The report further states that the poor results have been a lost opportunity for the global economy, claiming that: “The 1.2% improvement in energy intensity equated to around $1.6 trillion more GDP for the amount of energy used compared to 2017.

“However this figure could have been $4 trillion – an amount greater than the size of the German economy – had energy intensity improved at 3% every year since 2015.”

It has to be acknowledged that achieving the targets for reduction in global carbon emissions under the Paris Agreement of 2015 will be a major challenge. However, the IEA report did indicate that technical efficiency and digitalisation had been positive factors in driving energy efficiency, which are hopeful signs.

The difference between moves towards energy efficiency and many other measures to curb carbon emissions is that there can be economic benefits that frequently come about in a relatively short period of time.

Advances in HVAC technology

The Business Utility Consultancy Inenco Group has produced an informative report titled “A Focus on Commercial and Industrial Buildings” in which it recorded, along with other useful data relating to the UK, that: “Our commercial buildings have become more efficient in the way they use energy, which helps to reduce emissions and also cuts energy bills. The energy efficiency of non-domestic buildings has been improved since 1990, with emissions 18% lower in 2015.”

In a previous blog on this website we discussed the potential of cogeneration (CHP) units in the latest technological developments leading to improved energy usage. This is one of a range of advances in the HVAC sector.

Schwank is a market leader in the manufacture of gas fired infrared heating and cooling systems for commercial and industrial buildings, and energy efficiency has been a major objective for the company in its product development for many years. It is also indisputable that energy efficiency is a top priority for Schwank in 2020.

Cogeneration and Energy Efficiency

cogeneration of heat and power

The opening paragraphs of the EU Energy Efficiency Directive (2012/27/EU) emphasise the priority that is given to energy efficiency in the EU’s environmental strategy. To quote: “One of the initiatives of the Europe 2020 Strategy is the flagship resource-efficient Europe adopted by the Commission on 26 January 2011. This identifies energy efficiency as a major element in ensuring the sustainability of the use of energy resources.”

The ErP (Energy-related Products) regulations have been the primary focus of this blog and play an important role in this strategy, reducing energy consumption produced by a wide range of products. However, these ErP efficiency standards form part of a number of complementary initiatives that drive forward ambitions for a carbon-neutral future.

The Energy Efficiency Directive urged member states to assess opportunities for the promotion of cogeneration as a highly effective means of generating power while also capturing waste energy for heating. In a useful guidance titled “Cogeneration of Heat and Power” it was estimated that cogeneration plants could achieve energy efficiency levels of around 90%. The article also advised that small cogeneration facilities could “also be an effective way to supply energy to remote areas without the need for expensive grid infrastructure.”

However, with advances in technology and increasing interest from industry and commerce, the potential market for small cogeneration units has greatly increased beyond their application in remote and rural areas.

A rising force in energy supply

Schwank has launched a range of cogeneration units that can be an ideal means of generating electricity and providing heat for industrial and commercial buildings. These products also have the potential of meeting the requirements of a range of other applications such as supplying efficient sources of energy for schools and hospitals.

Giving the estimate of a likely 20% of generated energy being supplied by CHP and other cogeneration solutions by the year 2025, Schwank explains that: “A cogeneration unit is the ideal solution for all those who want to reduce long-term energy costs and disconnect themselves from further rises in electricity prices.”

When combined with the environmental benefits of energy efficiency and carbon emissions reduction, cogeneration has tremendous benefits to offer and has a great potential as an increasingly important element in energy supply.