The threat of global climate change has thrust energy efficiency to the forefront of energy and environmental policy debates. National governments have proposed a variety of programs – taxes, standards, and voluntary conservation – to realize further energy savings.
The merits of policies for promoting more energy efficiency equipments (defined as energy efficiency in this report) have been intensely debated. Technology-based evaluations are often optimistic about what can be achieved; economic-based analyses are often more cautious about how much conservation is really cost effective. Central to this debate has been the energy-efficiency “gap” of paradox: consumers appear to be under-investing in promising technologies that would reduce energy use. Various studies have attempted to measure this gap by defining an economic potential for energy conservation, or expected energy savings that would be cost effective with current or projected market conditions.
The thirteenth Energy Modeling Forum (EMF) working group, comprised of some 50 members from business, government, and academia met four times between September 1992 and March 1994 to discuss energy conservation. This group defined the important issues, developed the study plan, analyzed the results, and summarized the key findings. Proprietors of 10 different models of energy equipment efficiency and demand used their respective models to simulate a half dozen different scenarios based upon standardized assumptions. The comparison of model results guided the larger group’s discussion about important issues and differences of view that influence energy conservation. The group also integrated other research and analysis on the nature of the “gap” that contributed to an understanding of the policy issues.