U.S. sees 4% economic growth under efficiency ‘roadmap’

Source: Katherine Ling, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, September 17, 2015

The nation could add almost $1 trillion to the U.S. economy while cutting energy consumption 24 percent if it implements recommendations from the “Accelerate Energy Productivity 2030 Roadmap” unveiled today by the Energy Department.

The report examines six “wedges” of the economy and identifies strategies to boost energy efficiency — or, as advocates prefer these days, “energy productivity” — by sector, to meet President Obama’s goals for a 50 percent reduction in U.S. energy consumption over the next 20 years.

Energy productivity is the measure of producing more goods with less energy, or, as the report puts it, “the ratio of economic output (gross domestic product (GDP)) to primary energy use.”

The report was done in collaboration with the Alliance to Save Energy and the Council on Competitiveness.

Improvements in the transportation sector have the greatest capacity to boost U.S. energy productivity, according to the report, followed by building technologies, smart energy systems, financing, smart manufacturing and water infrastructure.

If the recommendations were adopted, the U.S would increase GDP to $22.5 trillion in 2030, an increase of 3.6 percent compared to the U.S. Energy Information Administration 2015 projection of a baseline $21.7 trillion GDP in 2030.

Energy efficiency is a key part of much of DOE’s work, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a speech at the Accelerate Energy Productivity 2030 Summit today in Washington, D.C., where the report was unveiled.

“The road map is the most ambitious innovation strategy for energy productivity,” Moniz said. The targets are “quite doable,” he said, but “it really is an all-hands-on-deck effort by government, business and research to meet this goal.”

Moniz also noted that improvements in energy efficiency could reduce the cost of future global spikes in energy prices by as much as 30 percent.

Energy efficiency was an important part of two other DOE reports released this year: the first installment of the Quadrennial Energy Review and the second Quadrennial Technology Review. The QTR was released last week (E&ENews PM, Sept. 10).

DOE also announced a $70 million funding opportunity for a new smart-manufacturing National Network for Manufacturing Innovation institute that could reduce the cost of advanced sensors, controls, platforms and modeling for manufacturing by as much as 50 percent. It will be the third DOE-led NNMI.

In addition, DOE awarded $22 million in total funding for electric machines to increase energy efficiency in high-energy industries including fossil fuel transportation and industrial-scale compression systems. The five awards will improve quick, high-temperature “wide-bandgap” technology for large-scale motors in projects from Calnetix Technologies, General Electric, Eaton Corp., Clemson University and Ohio State University.

QER, part 2

The secretary of Energy also provided a few more details about the second installment of the QER.

Moniz said the second QER report would examine the electricity system “end to end,” including valuing services like demand-side programs and distributed generation.

They “will certainly be a central piece of that QER,” Moniz said.

Other parts of the second report will be an analysis of electricity markets, the electricity-water nexus, and information technology and communication technology, he said.