"From a young age, we have all had the need to work hard impressed on us by family and society – and for many of us, this drive has formed who we are, what we do and our daily lives. We see how the energy we put in changes and transform our lives. And, if the outputs do not match the effort, we certainly want to do something about it and change the way we do things
Recently, the International Energy Agency published its latest global assessment of energy trends and showed that something needs to change. Global electrical energy demand is set to double in the next 20 years, even taking into account all the new developments and policies that have been agreed. With the energy mix still dominated by fossil fuels, we’re on track for a global temperature increase that risks creating irreversible climate change.
Not for the first time, the IEA highlights the huge potential of energy efficiency to curb demand. It could halve growth in energy demand while at the same time saving money and improving the environment and public health. In the light of this opportunity, one of the most sobering statements in the report is that “despite years of persistent pursuit, the potential of energy efficiency remains largely untapped.” Clearly, right now, the energy we use doesn’t work nearly hard enough. It’s an issue for policy makers, but what can we do, as business leaders, to change the way we do things?
From a national perspective, seizing such opportunities is particularly important for emerging markets such as Vietnam since it helps us to become more competitive and attract industries even in the face of high energy costs. Japan, which generates more GDP per unit of energy than any other economy, shows just how much, can already be done today, with existing technology.
One such technology is the humble motor. In many motor applications, energy use can be cut to one-eighth just by halving the motor speed with the help of a variable-speed drive control device. The potential globally, and in Vietnam, is huge.
With motor applications accounting for two-thirds of industrial energy use, the savings quickly add up: ABB’s global installed base of drives saved an estimated 310 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity in 2011 alone. This is equivalent to 8 year worth of Vietnam’s household consumption of electricity. In CO2 terms, if the power had been generated using fossil fuels, the savings of 260 million tons would be 11 year worth of vehicle emissions in Vietnam.
The IEA says that more than half of the potential for energy efficiency in industry remains untapped. In buildings, the situation is even more dramatic, with four-fifths of potential waiting to be seized. Since commercial and residential buildings account for almost 40 percent of end-user energy demand in most economies, this is also an area that has massive energy efficiency potential in Vietnam.
Concerns about quality of life abound, but intelligent building systems adjust the temperature, lighting and energy consumption to actual requirements so that large amounts of energy can be saved without compromising comfort.
Improving building and industrial energy efficiency is no longer optional but a clear pre-requisite for long-term financial growth for economies and individual companies.The IEA calls energy-efficiency a game changer. We call it opportunity"