Sunday, May 11, 2008

Energy efficiency

The elusive negawatt in the May 10 Economist is a not bad outline of why, if energy conservation both saves money and is good for the planet, people don't people do more of it. It includes useful thumbnails of analysis, obstacles and actions from France to China, from California to Japan.

In many instances, we are reminded, irrational framing and psychology play important roles. Homeowners, for example, tend to demand exorbitant rates of return on investments in energy efficiency— around 30%. Businesses are not quite so demanding, but they still tend to put greater emphasis on increasing revenues than on cutting costs.

Strange, though, that the article makes no reference to the work of Amory Lovins and co, who did more than anyone else to put these issues on the map, and drive the analysis further. Lovins & co have their critics, and some of these criticisms may be justified, but if concentrations of greenhouse gases are to be kept below 450ppm then we really have to pay attention.

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