chapter  5
43 Pages

Tried and tested: four decades of energy-effi ciency policy

The huge potential for improving energy effi ciency has long been recognised – and acted upon. In the wake of the 1970s oil crisis, most government agencies continued to project that energy demand would rise almost in lock-step with economic growth. In Japan, they decided as a matter of national security to do something about it, and ‘Japan, Incorporated’ was soon to emerge with the most energy-effi cient industry sector in the world. In the US, energy effi ciency ‘guru’ Amory Lovins contrasted the offi cial, nuclear-and-coal-to-the-rescue view with his ‘soft energy paths’, predicting that a gush of energy effi ciency would emerge instead, initiating a long struggle over whether and how government should be involved in fostering this. 2

Europe offered a microcosm for the various approaches. Strong policies for energy effi - ciency were already embedded in the Scandinavian psyche, for example strong standards on building energy effi ciency to cope with severe winters. Denmark added particular efforts to develop CHP (combined heat and power), which eventually linked nearly all of its thermal power stations with district heating networks. 3 Germany and France strengthened their centralised policies to promote effi ciency. The response in southern Europe was more patchy.