Energy efficiency: which technology is the most cost effective?

A report from the Energy & Strategy Group (Politecnico di Milano University) outlines the "best combination" of energy solutions in various contexts. The vast majority of energy efficiency technologies quickly pay for themselves, and thanks to the current subsidies in Italy, businesses, families and public bodies alike have the opportunity to save, generating 7 billion euros a year.

12/12/2013
Energy efficiency: which technology is the most cost effective?

The vast majority of energy efficiency technologies quickly pay for themselves, and thanks to the current subsidies in Italy, businesses, families and public bodies alike have the opportunity to save, generating 7 billion euros a year. This is according to the latest Energy Efficiency Report from the Energy & Strategy Group at the Politecnico di Milano University (Milan).

The report outlines the "best combination" of energy solutions in various contexts, considering the support measures available. In industry, cogeneration seems to be the most suitable technology to meet the demand for thermal power (and some of the demand for electrical power). In the residential sector, condensing boilers are still the best choice, beating heat pumps and solar thermal technology. Heat pumps are, however, the technology of choice to meet the demand for thermal energy in financial institutions and large retailers, while hospitals and hotels prefer cogeneration (which also meets some of the demand for electrical energy).

The report estimates that in total, considering all the energy solutions analysed, between now and 2020, Italian consumption could be reduced by297 TWh per year, including 44 TWh of electricity and 253 of thermal power. However, this potential saving is purely theoretical. According to experts, the realistically obtainable reduction, or the "expected" potential, is one third of the above figure: 96 TWh, made up of 21 TWh of electricity (equal to 6% of consumption) and approximately 75 TWh of thermal power (equal to 11%). The greatest potential lies in the residential sector, with a possible saving of approximately 51 TWh per year until 2020 (54% of the total potential).

Which can bring about the greatest savings? In the industrial sector: cogeneration (6.24 TWh per year) and lighting (6.17 TWh per year); in the residential sector: heat pumps (36.7 TWh per year) and high-albedo materials (29.6 TWh per year); in other sectors: cogeneration (4.9 TWh per year) and heat pumps(4.4 TWh per year).

The study confirms that energy efficiency also represents an excellent opportunity to kick start the economy: reaching the "expected" potential market would generate an average annual turnover between now and 2020 of more than 7 billion euros, including 2 billion for electrical power and 5 billion for thermal. Again, the residential sector, with a 4.3 billon euro expected investment, represents the sector with the greatest "expected" potential (58% of the total turnover), followed by the industrial sector with a 2.4 billion euro potential saving (33% of the total potential).