Every year, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) releases a list of the top 23 most energy-efficient countries. Rankings are based on energy-efficiency for buildings, industry, national, and transportation efforts to reduce energy usage. Each country earns their spot according to accumulated efforts over the previous year.
Germany has taken the number one spot. Here’s a look at a few highlights.
Policy makers in Germany have implemented an energy-saving strategy called Energiewende. This program has set a target of a 20 percent reduction in primary energy consumption by year 2020. To meet this goal, the German government has created complimentary policies and incentives that are funded by the KfW Development Bank. “Germany’s commitment to creating a framework that encourages investment in energy efficiency has made it a world-leading market in the field,” says Henning Ellermann, energy-efficiency industry expert at Germany Trade & Invest.
In comparison to that of other countries, Germany’s industrial sector scored relatively high. It has isolated most of its energy usage to chemical, iron, and steel industries. Since 1995, a voluntary agreement between German industry and the federal government has been made to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Updates were made in 2012 to targets for annual reductions in energy intensity until 2020. Also by 2020, Germany intends to obtain 25 percent of its electricity generation from CHP (combined heat and power).
Room for Improvement
While Germany had one of the highest scores in the building sector due to the country’s national Energy Saving Ordinance for buildings implemented in 2002, there is still potential to do more. According to the ACEEE, Germany could improve standards for appliances, which could reduce energy intensity of both commercial and residential buildings. Transportation was its lowest scoring sector. Germany being an auto-manufacturing powerhouse has led to personal vehicles being the primary mode of transportation. This leads to little government interest in investing in rail or other public transit systems.