Where can the US get $1.2 trillion?

To supplement my recently published ICIS Chemical Business article about energy efficiency technologies within the chemical industry, here’s a recent report from McKinsey & Company on how the US, by 2020, could potentially save $1.2 trillion in non-transportation energy costs and cut energy consumption by 23%.

Strategies needed to implement energy savings include:

  • Recognize energy efficiency as an important energy resource that can help meet future energy needs while the nation concurrently develops new no- and low-carbon energy sources
  • Formulate and launch at both national and regional levels an integrated portfolio of proven, piloted, and emerging approaches to unlock the full potential of energy efficiency
  • Identify methods to provide the significant upfront funding required by any plan to capture energy efficiency
  • Forge greater alignment between utilities, regulators, government agencies, manufacturers, and energy consumers
  • Foster innovation in the development and deployment of next-generation energy efficiency technologies to ensure ongoing productivity gains.

McKinsey reported that the residential sector accounts for 35% of theend-use efficiency potential (33% of primary energy potential); 40%from the industrial sector (32% in primary energy); and 25% from thecommercial sector (35% in primary energy). The differences betweenprimary and end-use potentials are because of conversion, transmission,distribution and transport losses.

McKinsey also added that thereduction in energy use would result in the abatement of 1.1 gigatonsof greenhouse gas emissions annually – the equivalent of taking theentire U.S. fleet of passenger vehicles and light trucks off the roads.

Unfortunately,one of the big barriers in achieving these savings is thatimplementation will be expensive. At the residential level andcommercial levels, home and business owners may not feel like spendingon energy-efficient appliances/equipments or paying anything onefficiency improvements.

McKinsey suggested information andeducation, incentives and financing, standards and mandates, andthird-party involvement could provide some solutions to these barriers.

Other recent announcements and studies on energy efficiency below:

1. Various energy efficiency reports from the National Academy of Engineering’s The Bridge journal (including a study of energy efficiency in China).

2. Low power design site aids green engineering.

3. Eka Chemicals Plant in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Canada, was the first to demonstrate GE’s new smart grid solution for asset optimization to help reduce transformer-caused downtime in the plant.

4. Bayer MaterialScience’s Impact technologywas able to eliminate 75 million pounds of wastewater and reduce 80% inenergy consumption at the company’s polyol production plant inChannelview, Texas.

5. Researchers from the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Technology have developed a new methodfor creating high-performance membranes from crystal sieves, calledzeolites. The method could significantly increase the energy efficiencyof chemical separations over conventional methods and enable higherproduction rates.

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