Out of sight, out of mind: let’s make energy efficiency visible in the energy mix
(EurActiv, 8 Nov 2023) Energy use and energy efficiency are inextricably linked, with energy efficiency being one of the main factors for explaining changes in energy consumption. Just look at the residential building stock, where changes in heating consumption may be explained by changes in, amongst other factors, the energy efficiency of the buildings.
Jean-Sébastien Broc is a researcher at the Institute for European Energy and Climate Policy Foundation (IEECP).
More than an explanatory factor, energy efficiency is also a resource (e.g., building insulation) that we can use to meet our energy needs while consuming less energy. In doing so, we can reduce our energy bills, our dependency on imported fossil fuels, and our CO2 emissions.
Considering the many benefits that energy efficiency brings to the table, one would think it would be at the forefront of the energy mix. But look at any graph, chart or spreadsheet representing the energy mix at the EU or national levels and you’ll see percentages for oil, natural gas, renewables, etc.
What you won’t see is the energy efficiency share.
And if something isn’t visible, it won’t be prioritised – which is one of the reasons energy efficiency does not come first in planning, policy making and investment.
It’s all about visualisation
If we’re going to implement the Energy Efficiency First principle, a good place to start is to look at how the terms of the energy debate are presented.
While processing and visualising data may sound like a technical issue, it’s actually at the core of framing the political debate.