leads ACEEE’s international work, and as the Senior Advisor for Research, she helps coordinate research efforts throughout the organisation. Additionally, she has 10 years’ experience in transportation efficiency issues, focused on improving mobility at the state and local levels and on evaluating the life-cycle
emissions of vehicles.
Energy efficiency policies and programmes have been discussed as a key strategy for countries grappling with meeting ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets set in place by the Paris Agreement.
As efficiency becomes more integral to meeting nation-wide goals, countries will need to see how they compare with their peers as well as understand how they can further improve energy efficiency in their respective countries. Benchmarking efforts are the most effective way to create an overall picture of energy use and efficiency efforts. A number of organisations including the World Bank and the European Union have created tools to help evaluate national progress on energy efficiency (see box).
Benchmarking energy use and efficiency policies can be challenging for a number of reasons and settling on a single replicable methodology is not always an easy undertaking.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has a long history of tracking and evaluating progress on energy efficiency across multiple sectors at the state, local, and national levels.
In 2012, we added an International Energy Efficiency Scorecard in order to provide a birds-eye view of energy use and efficiency policies in major global economies. This year’s Scorecard evaluates 25 nations on 36 different metrics. Our experience with benchmarking international energy efficiency efforts and performance has highlighted a number of important factors to consider. We discuss a few of those lessons below.
TRANSPARENCY IS IMPORTANT
The chosen methodology will depend heavily on the audience you are addressing, the stated goals of the effort, and the available data.
For the International Scorecard, ACEEE settled on a methodology that combines policy and performance metrics (in a 59/41 point split) that we think have the most potential to reduce energy consumption and are palatable at the national level.
ENERGY USE IS IMPACTED BY FACTORS OTHER THAN EFFICIENCY
The primary issue at play here is that energy use is impacted by factors besides energy efficiency. Physical factors affect the amount of energy a country uses across various sectors. Economic structure also governs energy use.
Agriculture- and labour-based economies tend to have lower energy consumption than industrialised ones. Finally, demographic composition and population density also affect overall energy consumption, as do other social factors such as income levels and energy inequity.
It is incredibly difficult to control for these factors when evaluating trends in energy use and the impact of energy efficiency policies. The ODYSSEY-MURE database methodology is probably the most advanced in this regard, as it attempts to estimate efficiency outcomes by correcting for non-energy conditions.
ACEEE’s International Energy Efficiency Scorecard adjusts for a few of the most important factors (i.e. impact of climate on energy use for space conditioning and impact of industry mix on industrial energy use) but otherwise we do not account for these factors in our evaluation.
YOU CAN ONLY MEASURE WHAT YOU HAVE DATA FOR
Tracking down energy data for certain countries is a challenge for evaluators due to a lack of data collection frameworks in many places. Additionally, benchmarking requires data that is consistent across countries in order to rate and rank them fairly on their efficiency efforts. More often than not, this is also the case for data that may be used to correct for the impact of conditions extraneous to energy efficiency. As a result, metrics may have to be crafted to accommodate data available for use. The 2018 International Energy Efficiency Scorecard chooses metrics for each section of analysis based largely on information that we are able to find in centralised, freely accessible databases from international organisations.
We supplement with on-the-ground data from country experts, which though incredibly valuable, can be inconsistent in terms of defining what is being measured.
Energy efficiency has increasingly become an important tool in the race to curtail global greenhouse gas emissions. Benchmarking efforts can help countries understand the baseline level of energy efficiency as well as show them the best practice policies and programmes that can harness untapped efficiency potential.
OTHER ENERGY EFFICIENCY BENCHMARKING EFFORTS
Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy (RISE)
The RISE project is a World Bank initiative that assesses a country’s policy and regulatory support for sustainable energy using policy-only metrics across three pillars: renewable energy, energy efficiency, and energy access. The energy efficiency pillar only covers the buildings and industrial sectors.
Global Tracking Framework (GTF)
The World Bank has partnered with IEA to track how countries are performing with regards to meeting their own sustainable energy goals as well broader Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
Energy efficiency is one component of the report’s evaluation of sustainable energy efforts.
The Odyssey-MURE Score- board provides information on energy efficiency-related indicators and policies in all European Union member countries.
By Shruti Vaidyanathan, Senior Advisor for Research, ACEEE