Energy efficiency not being exploited in Latin America


Mentor Poveda,
Energy Efficiency
Quito, Ecuador — (METERING.COM) — August 23, 2007 – Energy efficiency is not being exploited widely in Latin America but conservatively estimated it has the potential to generate energy savings approaching $156 billion in the period from 2003 to 2018.

This is one of the findings in a new report entitled “Energy efficiency: An unexploited resource” by Mentor Poveda, energy efficiency consultant to the Latin American Energy Organization, OLADE (Organización Latinoamericana de Energía).

The report finds that across Latin America and the Caribbean the energy intensity (i.e. the energy required to produce a unit of GDP) has declined by only 0.2 percent per annum since 1990, compared with 0.9 percent per annum over the same period in Europe. Moreover reductions have occurred only in the few countries that have introduced energy efficiency programs or for example have incorporated energy efficient technologies into buildings. Among these are Brazil and Mexico, which are the most advanced with programs in place since the 1980s and with specialized institutions, standards and labeling, Costa Rica, Cuba and Peru.

Based on global experience the economic potential for energy efficiency can be estimated conservatively at between 10 to 20 percent, with an estimated reduction in consumption between 3 to 5 percent, giving rise to accumulated savings across all sectors across the region of $155.7 billion by 2018. More than half of this would occur in Brazil and Mexico ($53.6 billion and $36.6 billion respectively), while the least savings would accrue in Central America and the Caribbean ($7.2 billion and $9.9 billion respectively).

The report states that there is not a general awareness among players in the energy sector of the importance of energy efficiency, or of the need for them to analyze their own demand options in developing energy efficiency solutions. Accordingly there is a need to conscientize the sector by bodies such as OLADE.

Another key requirement is political support, and the state should also nominate or establish an institution responsible for the development of energy efficiency, including the preparation and implementation of a national energy efficiency action plan. Finally the plan should be monitored and evaluated.

Mexico is cited as a good example for the region, with its energy intensity declining by 2 percent per annum. Mexico’s energy efficiency body, the National Commission for Energy Saving, CONAE (Comisión Nacional para el Ahorro de Energía), was established as a public body under the Secretary of Energy with technical and operational autonomy in 1989, and requires an annual investment from government of $5.5 million but realizes savings of $398 million (in 2005).

“These actions should drive national energy efficiency action plans in the countries in the region, with the aim of attaining sustained savings on the demand side and ensuring that efficiency is fully incorporated as an important resource in the energy matrix,” commented Poveda in his conclusions to the report.