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GSR 2015

113 06 RENEWABLES 2015 GLOBAL STATUS REPORT 06 ENERGY EFFICIENCY: RENEWABLE ENERGY’S TWIN PILLAR Renewable energy and energy efficiency are twin pillars of a sustainable energy future.1 As energy services are delivered more efficiently, renewables can more quickly become an effective and significant contributor to the primary energy supply. Concurrently, as the share of renewables increases, less primary energy is needed to provide the same level of energy services. Energy efficiency measures and renewable energy options can work together to reduce system-wide environmental and economic costs. For example, distributed renewable energy systemsi together with energy efficiency improvements can reduce peak electricity demand on the grid while easing transmission losses and bottlenecks. Non-fuel renewables—such as wind, solar, and hydropower—can improve system efficiencies on their own, as they remove the losses inherent in the thermal conversion of fossil fuels. The two pillars support each other to enable applications that otherwise might not be technically or economically practical, thereby rendering the outcome greater than the sum of the parts. The total amount of energy required to deliver basic services depends on both the energy source and the losses that occur at each step (i.e., primary energy extraction, transformation, transportation, transmission, and end-use). Each of these steps presents an opportunity to improve the energy efficiency of the overall system, which is advantageous irrespective of the primary energy source. However, special synergies exist between energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, in both technical and policy contexts. Examples of these synergies include: ◾◾ Synergies for greater system benefits. Efficient building systems and designs, combined with on-site renewable energy generation, reduce end-use energy demand, electrical grid congestion and losses, and the monetary and energy expenditures associated with fuel transportation. ◾◾ Synergies for greater renewable energy share in the energy mix. Improving end-use efficiency and increasing use of on-site renewables reduce primary energy demand. With lower end-use energy requirements, the opportunity increases for renewable energy sources of low energy density to meet full energy-service needs. Targets to increase the share of renewables in total energy consumption can be achieved through both increasing the amount of renewable energy and reducing total energy consumption. ◾◾ Synergies for greater investment in renewables and efficiency. Improvements in end-use energy efficiency reduce the cost of delivering end-use services by renewable energy, and the money saved through efficiency can help finance additional efficiency improvements and/or deployment of renewable energy technologies. These synergies exist across numerous sectors, from buildings and electrical services to transportation and industry.2 (p See Feature, GSR 2012.) This section was produced in collaboration with the Copenhagen Centre on Energy Efficiency (C2E2). i - In this section and the rest of the GSR (with the exception of the section on Distributed Renewable Energy for Energy Access), “distributed renewable energy systems” refers to energy systems 1) that are relatively small and dispersed (such as small-scale solar PV on rooftops), rather than relatively large and centralised; and/or 2) for which generation and distribution occur independent from a centralised grid.

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