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U.S. Can (Still) Cut Its Energy Use 50% by 2050: ACEEE

U.S. EPA/Wikipedia
U.S. EPA/Wikipedia

It’s still realistic for the United States to try to cut its energy use in half by mid-century, writes Steven Nadel, head of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, in a blog post this week. But only if the country steps up on the energy efficiency policies that led ACEEE to set the 50% target as a strategic goal five years ago.

“Energy use has been stable in recent years, reversing historical growth, a very positive development that is due in significant part to increasing our energy efficiency,” Nadel writes. “But if we want actual declines in energy use, we will need to double down on our efforts.”

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Nadel lists 13 “energy efficiency packages” that would cut U.S. energy use 34% by 2040, putting the country on track for a 50% cut by 2050. But “we must rigorously pursue all of these energy efficiency policy opportunities if we are to achieve these potential energy efficiency savings,” he writes.

“We must also continue to invest in research and development to identify new efficiency measures,” he adds. “These will provide additional savings opportunities that we can only imagine today.

The 13 efficiency packages cover a familiar range of energy-savings measures—from appliance and equipment standards to zero net energy buildings and smart buildings and homes, from industrial efficiency improvements and combined heat and power to vehicle fuel economy, vehicle miles traveled (VMT) reductions, and reduced energy use in freight transport.

“Savings and emissions reductions from our efficiency policies are largest in the transportation sector, followed closely by the commercial, industrial, and residential sectors,” Nadel writes. “Transportation measures generally contribute a higher percentage to emissions reductions than to energy use reductions due to the relatively high carbon content of most transportation fuels.