Energy efficiency provides the cleanest, cheapest, and quickest solution to meet worldwide energy demand. Long-term energy scenarios developed by the International Energy Agency assign energy efficiency the largest role in reducing carbon emissions to mitigate climate change. This role is much greater than all other means combined, including renewable energy, biofuels, nuclear, or carbon capture and storage.
Energy efficiency is often overlooked globally, and marginalised by more expensive options because it is not easy to sell politically; nor is it popular in the media. This is because energy savings are invisible, whereas big energy infrastructure projects create opportunities for opening ceremonies, evident jobs, media coverage, and all kind of actions that build political capital.
The UN’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative, which promotes global sustainable energy goals, has made an effort to raise the profile of energy efficiency. The organisation recently reported that annual investment in energy efficiency needs to increase four times to meet the SE4All goal of doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030, while annual investment in renewable energy needs to double.
Recent market signals show a correlation between low oil prices and negative impacts on the renewables industry. The clearest example that has arisen in recent months is with manufacturers of solar technology in developed countries like the United States or even in China, whose shares have lost their market value at the same rate as the shares of companies in the industry oil. The Bloomberg Global Global Solar Energy Index which brings together 21 companies in the sector has fallen over 40% since mid-June 2014, while the three largest Chinese manufacturers of photovoltaic panels have lost between 50% and 75% of their market.