Energy conservation can and must play an important role in future energy strategy, because it can ameliorate adverse impacts on the environment rapidly and economically. Even taking just the OECD European countries combined, the per capita energy consumption in the US is twice as much. It is fair to assume that the per capita energy of the US could be reduced to the level of OECD Europe of 4.2 kW by a combination of energy efficiency improvements and changes in transportation. This is significant, because the US uses about 25% of the energy of the whole world. The present per capita energy consumption in the US is 284 GJ, which is equivalent to about 9 kW per person, whereas the average for the whole world is 2 kW. The Board of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology has developed a vision of a 2 kW per capita society by the middle of the century (UNDP). The vision is technically feasible. However, achieving this vision will require a combination of increased R&D on energy efficiency and policies that encourage conservation and use of high efficient systems. It will also require some structural changes in the transportation systems. According to the World Energy Assessment by UNDP, a reduction of 25%-35% in primary energy in the industrialized countries is achievable cost effectively in the next 20 years, without sacrificing the level of energy services. The report also concluded that similar reductions of up to 40% are cost effectively achievable in the transitional economies and more than 45% in developing economies. As a combined result of efficiency improvements and structural changes such as increased recycling, substitution of energy intensive materials, etc., energy intensity could decline at a rate of 2.5% per year over the next 20 years (UNDP).
Improving energy efficiency across all sectors of the economy should become a worldwide objective (Energy Commission). It should be noted, however, that free market price signal may not always be sufficient to effect energy efficiency. Hence legislation for energy efficiency standards for equipment may be necessary. There is considerable debate whether incentives or mandates are the preferred way to improved energy efficiency. Such measures may be necessary because surveys indicate that consumers consistently rank energy use and operating costs quite low on the lists of attributes they consider when purchasing an appliance or construct a building. Incentives may be the preferred option provided they induce decision makers to take appropriate action.
In the given future energy mix for Europe energy efficiency improvements with available technologies are incorporated.