Energy efficiency as a resource means that efficiency can be used as an energy resource that is capable of producing energy and demand savings. Yes, energy efficiency or conservation can be considered as the best source of energy as it helps in displacing electricity generation from natural gas, coal, wind power, nuclear power plant and other supplies. Energy efficiency can be utilized as a resource in meeting the energy services' needs of the customers. Instead of investing in supply-side resources like expanding the electricity grid or building a new power plant, another cost-effective alternative can be energy efficiency.
More efficient use of energy results in the energy saving that cannot be seen but this is the energy that is not consumed. By comparing the energy that was used before and after the energy efficiency was used, energy savings can be measured. Energy efficiency can save money, create new jobs and can reduce the harmful greenhouse gasses emission and with other energy resources, it is very competitive. It has also been estimated that energy saved through efficiency when upgraded to buildings and homes has just one-third of the total cost of building a new power plant based on any fossil fuel. Thus, the need to install or replace any other expensive electricity grid is totally eliminated with the use of energy efficiency upgrades. So, the most important benefit offered by the energy efficiency is the cost-saving. For example, in New Jersey, the money saved through energy saving has been used by the governor in raising the state budget.
Loads on the power plants at peak times are also reduced with the help of energy efficiency and thus, there are lower capacity requirements. In developing countries like India and China where the demand for electricity has high growth rate, the quantities of energy required increases with the time, the implementation of energy efficiency can help in lowering the requirements for total energy and capacity. In North America, energy conservation programs offered by the electricity utilities helped in coping with the rising energy prices during the energy crisis in the 1970s. So, energy efficiency these days is regarded as an important resource of the power system that can help in reducing greenhouse gasses emission, generating jobs and saving money for customers.
Following are the major benefits offered by utilizing energy efficiency as a resource as proposed by a recent study in the United States:
Power system benefits: Reliable energy efficiency resources can be delivered at much lower cost to meet electrical energy demand rather than implementing new power supply source. The investments in transmission, production and distribution capacity are also avoided with the energy efficiency resources. The Line losses are also avoided as losses increase exponentially with the power lines load. The reserve requirements are also minimized, the risks are decreased and the credit and collection costs are also reduced with the energy efficiency resources.
Societal benefits: Energy efficiency resources provides may environmental benefits like reduced greenhouse gasses emission and the water and air quality is improved. There are various economic development benefits also, as the electricity bills are reduced, so, additional income can be spent locally. Energy efficiency also helps in minimizing or avoiding the shortage or loss of electricity supply.
Electricity customers' benefits: The reduction in electricity bills is the most important advantage provided to electricity consumers by energy efficiency. When standard equipment and appliances are replaced with energy efficient resources, it helps in providing maintenance and operations savings. There are various health benefits also offered by energy efficient resources.
Thus, it can be concluded that energy efficiency is a cost-effective alternative to investing in supply-side resources like expanding the electricity grid or building a new power plant. When utilized properly, there are various benefits provided by the energy efficiency to electricity customers, to the power system and to the society as a whole.
aceee.org. (2015). Energy Efficiency as a Resource. Retrieved from ACEEE American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy: http://aceee.org/topics/energy-efficiency-resource
Crossley, D. (2014). Energy Efficiency As A Resource for the Power Sector in China. Retrieved from Regulatory Assistance Project: http://www.raponline.org/document/download/id/7259
Sioshansi, F. P. (2013). Energy Efficiency: Towards the End of Demand Growth. Waltham: Elseiver.