The topic of climate change is getting hotter. Literally. This change, if not addressed at the earliest, can have a cascading impact on the biodiversity and human livelihood in the nearing future.
At the International Energy Agency’s 7th Annual Global Conference on Energy Efficiency, leaders from across the globe descended in the quaint town of Sønderborg in Denmark to reassess and re-evaluate the processes taken to create a more energy efficient world.
Trending Today: #WhyEE
‘Why Energy Efficiency (WHYEE)’ was the trending topic across the three-day conference that focused on district heating, district cooling, efficient drives, financing as well as innovation. Global energy and climate leaders gathered in Denmark for a major ministerial meeting that could drive urgently needed improvements in energy efficiency, with new analysis by the International Energy Agency showing that stronger efficiency measures can reduce energy bills, fuel imports and greenhouse gas emissions quickly and significantly.
The last decade has been warmer than any decade in the last 125,000 years. This was the wakeup call that needs to be addressed via how we use energy since today cities, industries and transportation are using much more energy than they need.
Kim Fausing ,Danfoss President and CEO, said at the meet that urgent action on energy efficiency will be crucial to meeting the Paris Agreement goals. He also added that Denmark has set ambitious net-zero targets and Danfoss aims to be carbon neutral in all its facilities by end of 2022. “If the world is to meet climate goals to limit global warming, energy efficiency measures must be prioritised. A third of the reduction needed in CO2 emissions this decade, according to the IEA net zero scenario, must come from improvements in energy efficiency. The good news is that the solutions are there to improve energy efficiency in all sectors. We don’t need to wait. We need action, because the greenest energy is the energy we don’t use. So, we have to set priorities, number one being use less energy; number two, use existing energy; and number three, use residual energy. This will help correct energy consumption and energy prices.”
Dr. Fatih Birol, Executive Director, IEA, said: “Energy efficiency is a critical solution to so many of the world’s most urgent challenges — it can simultaneously make our energy supplies more affordable, more secure and more sustainable. The oil shocks of the 1970s set in motion major advances in efficiency, and it is utterly essential that efficiency is at the heart of the response to today’s global energy crisis. The leaders meeting at the IEA Global Conference on Energy Efficiency need to make this the moment when the world hits the accelerator on efficiency — or we may fail to respond to the current energy crisis properly and pay the price for years to come.”
He added: “We are facing the first global crisis in oil, gas, coal and electricity. Prices are at unacceptable levels. There is a growing worry for both natural gas and oil markets. This is why the IEA has come up with a 10-point strategic principle to expedite energy efficiency policies globally.”
Stressing on the urgent deployment of efficiency tools, Dr. Birol added that energy efficiency is possible with existing technologies if best practices were followed by users.
Dan Jørgensen, Denmark’s Minister of Climate, Energy and Utilities, said: “It’s no longer a question of whether we should implement more energy-efficient solutions and technologies globally — it’s a question of how we are going to do that. By increasing our energy efficiency, we can reduce our dependence on Russian oil and gas completely and move closer to achieving climate neutrality. The conference in Sønderborg and the gathering of energy and climate leaders from various sectors and all parts of the world is an important step in the right direction.”
He added that Denmark was the first to witness the green revolution. Because of this, there are many Danish companies that are front-runners in energy efficiency solutions. “By exporting energy-efficient solutions, the companies are making profits, creating jobs and helping humanity. Energy efficiency is a win-win.”
The New IEA Report
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has just published a new analysis stating that it is going to cost more in the long run, if we don’t increase our efforts on energy efficiency globally.
According to the analysis, doubling the current global rate of energy intensity improvement to four per cent a year has the potential to avoid 95 exajoules a year of final energy consumption by the end of this decade, compared with a pathway based on today’s policy settings. That level of savings would reduce global CO2 emissions by an additional five billion tonnes a year by 2030, about a third of the total emissions reduction efforts needed this decade to move the world onto a pathway to net zero emissions by mid-century, as laid out in the Net Zero Roadmap the IEA published last year.
The report also stated that these extra efficiency efforts would cut global spending on energy. For example, households alone could save as much as $650 billion a year on energy bills by the end of the decade, compared with what they would have spent in a pathway based on today’s policy settings. The amount of natural gas that the world would avoid using as a result of this would be equal to four times what the EU imported from Russia last year, while the reduced oil consumption would be almost 30 million barrels of oil per day, about triple Russia’s average production in 2021. Compared to today, this global push on efficiency would help create 10 million additional jobs in fields, ranging from building retrofits to manufacturing and transport infrastructure.
The analysis shows the significant opportunities for rapid energy efficiency gains in all sectors of the global economy. Most of these opportunities involve readily available technologies and would fully pay for themselves through lower running costs, especially at today’s high energy prices. By 2030, around a third of the avoided energy demand comes from deploying more efficient equipment, ranging from air conditioners to cars. About a fifth comes from electrification, such as switching to heat pumps or electric cars. Digitalisation and use of more efficient materials in industry provide much of the rest.
Sønderborg: Model Municipality
Located in Denmark, near the Baltic Sea and close to Germany, the Municipality of Sønderborg has worked on a dual ambition for 15 years: to mitigate emissions backed by a carbon-neutral energy system by 2029 — and to inspire the world on how to achieve this in a robust and cost-effective way.
Since 2007, the Danish city of Sønderborg has managed to reduce 52 per cent of carbon emissions and foresees to achieve 100 per cent energy efficiency by the year 2029. A model for Denmark and Europe, this city is aptly chosen as the host for the IEA’s Seventh Global Conference on Energy Efficiency, where world energy and climate leaders are gathered for a major ministerial meeting to drive urgently needed improvements in energy efficiency, with new analysis by the International Energy Agency showing that stronger efficiency measures can reduce energy bills, fuel imports and greenhouse gas emissions quickly and significantly.
Fausing, at a media briefing at Sønderborg, said that ‘seeing is believing’ referring to how far the city had come in realising its dreams. The city is home to low emission construction sites that use battery operated machineries as one of the tools; a local supermarket — Super Brugsen — that reuses excess heat from cooling displays and freezers, and at times, sells excess heat through district heating system to neighbouring buildings; and to Danfoss.
ProjectZero: Leading by example
Back in 2007, a group of future-oriented citizens defined Sønderborg’s ambition and anchored the project in a public-private partnership titled ‘ProjectZero’. From there on, ProjectZero has rested on deep, local collaboration, the involvement of citizens and companies, and on the development of skills and knowledge, which has transformed the mindset of the entire city.
Despite Sonderborg's population of approximately 75,000 inhabitants scattered over rural areas and towns, ProjectZero has already received worldwide recognition. Not only for the reductions achieved, but also for the methods and approaches applied.
Across the streets of Sønderborg, one can find private homes and public domains such as sporting complexes, municipality, office buildings adopting carbon neutral solutions since 2007. These high number of initiatives such as ZEROcompany certifications, ZEROshop certifications, ZEROhome certifications, etc., have created the climate pioneer, i.e., Sønderborg.