'Resource' for Developing Countries: Increase Energy Efficiency It Costs about Half as Much as Building New Power Plants

Article excerpt

Energy efficiency traditionally has been regarded as something only rich economies could afford. But given today's tremendous energy needs in the developing world, especially in Pacific Asia, it has taken on a new importance. Energy efficiency has emerged as a valuable resource that addresses the Pacific Basin's multiple goals of efficient capital investment, improved productivity, economic growth, and environmentally sustainable development. Between the years 2000 and 2010, China's gross domestic product (GDP) is projected to grow by 7 percent per year. The GDP of Asia's other developing nations probably will grow 5.2 percent during the same period. This strong economic development will create huge increases in both commercial and industrial energy demand. Demand also will come from consumers, who increasingly are using cars, refrigerators, and other energy-consuming tools of modern living. Bangkok, Southeast Asia's largest city, had 600,000 registered vehicles in 1979. By 1993, it had almost 3 million. The number is rising almost 11 percent per year, according to the International Institute for Energy Conservation. Only 40 percent of Bangkok households had refrigerators in 1980; a decade later, 90 percent did. Commercial demand for oil The World Bank estimates that developing countries now consume about 80 million barrels of oil equivalent per day just for commercial purposes. By the year 2010, the figure will grow to 100 million barrels. By 2030, as much as 200 million barrels of oil equivalent per day will be required to meet developing countries' commercial demand. While the Pacific Basin needs new energy and power supplies, satisfying the burgeoning demand creates four key challenges: *Improving productivity. *Investing capital wisely. *Fostering economic growth. *Sustaining the environment. Only energy efficiency can meet these challenges and help the Pacific Basin meet its energy needs. Productivity. Energy efficiency is far different from the energy conservation of old. Conservation practices began in an energy crisis. They called for sacrifice: turning down thermostats, running factories at partial capacity, and other measures that hampered productivity. The efficiency ethic means getting the most out of every unit of energy. Rather than turning down the heat, it focuses on producing efficient heating and air conditioning systems. Rather than idling factories, it focuses on installing the best and most efficient process controls, motors, and other equipment. Today's energy efficiency is a combination of good technology and best practices to improve residential comfort and enhance industrial productivity. Capital requirements. The United States Agency for International Development projects the annual cost of developing countries' energy projects at $100 billion. According to the US Energy Department, developing and transitional countries could save almost $2 trillion by 2025 if they pursue an energy-efficiency development strategy, which typically costs half of what it takes to build new capacity. Energy efficiency does more than save money - it offers a handsome return on investment. …