More effort needed on efficient cars, buildings and appliances

Posted at October 31, 2012 » By : » Categories : News » Comments Off on More effort needed on efficient cars, buildings and appliances

More should be done to develop energy efficient cars, buildings and domestic appliances to tackle climate change, according to new research.

The study from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, published in Nature Climate Change this week, reveals that twice as much effort is being expended on developing new energy sources as on using energy more sparingly.

Most public institutions, policies and resources favour energy generating technologies, says research Charlie Wilson, who led the study with scientists from Austria and the US.

But the research shows that improving the efficiency of energy-consuming technologies could make substantial contributions to emissions reductions and provide greater social returns on investment.

“About two-thirds of all public innovation efforts are directed toward energy supply technologies. It is vital that innovations in renewable energy supply continue, but the imbalance in spending needs to be redressed urgently,” says Wilson.

Since 1974, the total public sector spend on energy end-use and efficiency innovations is around $38 billion, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

“This is less than the $41 billion spent on nuclear fusion alone,” points out co-researcher Arnulf Grubler of Yale University. “Efficiency gets short shrift in both public energy research and development, and in private market investments alike.”

Meanwhile, although renewable and alternative energy generation technologies benefit from some $160 billion in investment, subsidies for fossil fuels still top $500 billion.

“The multitude of small-scale innovations that improve end-use efficiency often go unnoticed because they don’t have the glamour of solar panels and wind turbines,” says Wilson, “and they don’t benefit from well-established institutions, powerful market interests, and political influence.”

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Related stories:
UK government incentives for electric vehicles not working (21-Sept)
UK government ‘could do better’ on green buildings, says report card (19-Sept)
Property refurbishment fund reaches £100 million mark (26-Jan)

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