Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Can electricity save energy?

Electricity's share in the final energy mix has been steadily increasing. It is currently around 18% of final energy, and close to 40% of primary energy consumption. In the light of this growth, views of an 'all electrical' society have
been occasionally expressed.

The high growth of electricity can also be seen as a problem. Is electricity the 'bad student', hindering primary energy demand to go down in absolute terms? Is electricity a high quality but polluting energy form, that should be only used when there is no alternative?

But electricity is just an energy carrier, which due to its high quality, can be converted with high efficiency into practically any energy service. An integrated resource viewpoint should be taken when evaluating the efficiency of electricity to deliver energy services. For example, an electric vehicle can be about twice
as efficient than a combustion vehicle in converting primary energy into transport services.

Based on the integrated resource view, we can speculate that it is actually the growth in electricity consumption that is pushing down primary energy demand below GDP growth, a view which is today as speculative as its alternative mentioned above.

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