Energy Efficiency and decarbonization in brief
The world energy consumption continues to grow with no perspective of slowing down in the near future. This trend is driven by different factors, both economical and sociological:
- An increase in the world population
- According to the United Nations, the global human population reached 8.0 billion in mid-November 2022, adding 1 billion people since 2010 and 2 billion since 1998. The world’s population is expected to increase by nearly 2 billion persons in the next 30 years, from the current 8 billion to 9.7 billion in 2050 and could peak at nearly 10.4 billion in the mid-2080s. More people are using electricity than ever before, with the proportion of the global population having access to this service rising from 83% in 2010 to nearly 90% in 2022. This population increase will take place mainly in Asia and Africa, where the energy use per person is expected also to grow significantly in the future: if nearly 9 out of 10 people now have access to electricity, reaching the unserved will require increased efforts.
- This means that the energy needs will increase in the future, in order to allow people to benefit from a better standard of living. This additional energy need is globally not compensated by a decrease of energy consumption in developed countries. According to the International Energy Agency, the average energy use per person increased by 14% between 1990 and 2019.
- Urbanization and industrialization
- In 2021, according to the United Nations, 56% of the world’s population was living in urban areas, representing 4.4B people. Urban population is expected to reach 68% of the world population by 2050: World’s population could add another 2.2 billion people to urban areas by 2050, with close to 90% of this increase also taking place in Asia and Africa. This means that more energy will be needed for construction, manufacturing, and transportation of people and goods.
The share of fossil fuels in the energy mix has remained high, at around 80%, for decades. The consequence of this is the emission of huge quantities of CO2 (33.4 Gtons in 2019), which has an accepted impact on climate change by greenhouse effect. In addition, these fossil fuels are subject to fluctuation in prices, because of geopolitical issues and competition between countries.
For these reasons, there is a global commitment of countries to curb the use of fossil fuels: it is now widely acknowledged that the world’s economy needs to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) published a critical report on possible trajectories to keep global warming below 1.5°C. Four scenarios have been developed, all of them converged to net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050.
The Kyoto protocol was the first international agreement by which industrialized countries set objectives to reduce the greenhouse gas emission. Such a commitment has been confirmed during the Conference of Parties (COP 21) in 2015, with the objective to limit global warming within acceptable limits (maximum 2°C, and possibly 1.5°C).
From the COP26 achievement, over 90% of global GDP is now covered by net zero commitments and 153 countries have put forward new 2030 emissions targets (NDCs).
In order to reach these objectives, different regulations have already been put in place in many countries, relative to energy efficient construction for example.
One of the solutions proposed to solve the dilemma between economic development and CO2 emission is to increase the part of electricity in the energy mix. In 2019, almost two-third of global electricity was produced from the combustion of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas).
So actions that must be taken should include:
- Energy Efficiency first. The "energy efficiency first principle" means taking utmost account of cost-efficient energy efficiency measures in shaping energy policy and making relevant investment decisions (source European Commission)
- The objective is to provide the same level of service by consuming less energy. By implementing energy efficient electrical equipment and smart controllers, it is possible to save up to 30% of energy. This is the most cost effective means for limiting CO2 emissions, and saving energy and cost.
- Decarbonized energy, through the development of renewable energies
- According to IEA, the share of renewables in global electricity generation will rise from 28% in 2021 to over 60% in 2030, and nearly 90% in 2050. Integrating local renewable energy sources, typically photovoltaic (PV) production, into building electrical distribution systems, and using it to power the building loads, is one way to decarbonize and increase energy efficiency. It is becoming more common for both new and existing buildings.
- This move is transforming all legacy electrical consumer installation in Producer and Consumer = Prosumer electric installations.
Here are the main points presented in this chapter:
- Overview of worldwide standardization and Energy Efficiency assessment techniques,
- Presentation of electrical measurement as the key diagnostics tool,
- Overview of energy savings opportunities in Electrical Installations,
- Prosumer electrical installations
- IPCC (2018), Global Warming of 1.5 degree Celsius