The Sacred Cow of Energy Efficiency is Really a Trojan Horse
If you follow Xcel, the Department of Commerce, the state legislature—really, anyone working on energy—you know that efficiency is the key to deep reductions in energy use. According to Nikiforuk, the International Energy Agency said energy efficiency could achieve 49% of the greenhouse gas reductions we need by 2030.
And it’s certainly true that we’ve made huge strides in energy efficiency in almost every type of electrified product. Computers are more efficient. Cars and planes are more efficient. Kitchen appliances are 75% more efficient than they were in the 1990s! We should be saving lots of energy, and be well on our way to lowering our carbon footprint.
But we’re not.
The truth is, increases in energy efficiency encourage more use. Stanley Jevons, a coal economist, noted years ago that efficiencies in technology encouraged industry to apply that technology to more and more activities. Jevon’s observation is called the Jevon’s Paradox.Continue reading