What is not in the Study?
The study does not consider the influence of technological changes such as digitization
or autonomous vehicles
. Not accounting for the savings of new technologies likely underestimates the energy savings potential, as well as important dynamics that can shift energy demand baselines up or down. Previous experience teaches us that many energy savings opportunities were not predicted even a few years before they appeared, and thus considering the role of new technology is needed to hit big energy savings
. One way to account for the evolution of technologies and new energy end uses is to ensure estimating efficiency potential becomes a regular occurrence, so we hope this efficiency potential study is only the beginning, and that the federal government regularly updates efficiency potential in future years.
The study also excludes consideration of structural or behavioural changes, such as urban and housing densification, the move towards higher value light industries, or mobility shifts through biking, teleworking etc. A recent Canadian study in the Journal of Energy Efficiency
shows these influences can be very important. We are also seeing new program designs that change energy saving behaviours
by using strategic rewards, making energy use visible, and giving end users greater control over their energy usage, that could further increase energy savings.
How do we Harness Canada’s Energy Efficiency Potential?
This study demonstrates the huge contribution efficiency needs to make for Canada to meet climate commitments, maintain competitiveness, and improve energy affordability. Efficiency is a large resource, on a par with oil and gas, electricity, and renewable energy. It deserves to be treated as Canada’s “first fuel” and become top of mind with policymakers and energy system managers.
Many of the policies that see us reaching the “Energy Efficiency Scenario” are currently proposed, but not yet implemented. This includes building energy labelling, a net-zero energy ready building code, and more efficient minimum energy performance standards for appliances and equipment.
Reaching these higher levels of energy savings also required ramping up efforts in provincial and utility energy systems. Finer scale efficiency potential studies of provincial and utility energy systems will be important to demonstrate that efficiency is most often a lower cost option compared to power plants and fossil fuels. Efficiency potential studies could also guide how best to spend carbon pricing revenues
Note that our recent study
showed that ramping up to levels of energy savings that are shown to be achievable in leading jurisdictions could create 118,000 net jobs per year, on average between now and 2030. So, exploiting this efficiency potential will help build the energy efficiency industry and boost the national economy.
So let’s get on with taking advantage of the abundant, cost-effective, and accessible energy resource called energy efficiency! We are building Efficiency Canada
to advocate just for that! Come join us in this common mission!
Based on Current Policy Scenario fuel combustion emissions and holding emissions from non-fuel combustion constant at 2016 levels in 2050, or 2050 BAU emissions levels baseline from the Pembina Institute’s Energy Policy Simulator