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Technology Leads To Big Increase In Energy Efficiency

A new study has found that technology leads to a dramatic increase in energy efficiency and is actually a net saver of energy by a 10:1 ratio across the economy. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy found a direct
correlation between gains in energy productivity and investments in information and communications technology. The ACEEE found that today it takes less than half the energy to produce a dollar of economic output as it did in 1970 and that energy efficiency gains have increased significantly since 1996. The report was published as leading technology CEOs laid out a new energy initiative and called on policymakers to better leverage technology to solve the nation’s energy challenges.

The ACEEE report, Information and Communication technologies: The Power of Productivity, was commissioned by the TCC.  In tandem with the ACEEE report, the TCC released its own report, The Smarter Shade of Green: How Innovative Technologies are Saving Energy, Time and Money, focusing on specific technology initiatives that are making our economy energy efficient.

Key findings from the ACEEE study:

For every extra kilowatt-hour of electricity that has been demanded by ICT technologies, the U.S. economy increased its overall energy savings by a factor of about 10. Thus, these productivity gains have led to huge net savings in both energy and economic costs. The extraordinary take away from this finding is that ICT is a net saver of energy across our economy.

For the past 37 years, the pace of energy efficiency gains has increased significantly since 1996. Whereas U.S. energy intensity declined 1.8 percent per year between 1970 and 1995, it declined at a much more rapid rate of 2.4 percent between 1996 and 2006.

Since 1970, the U.S. has dramatically improved the amount of energy it takes to generate economic activity. Today, it takes less than half the energy to produce a dollar of economic output as it did in 1970. U.S. energy consumption per dollar of economic output has declined from 18 thousand Btus in 1970 to less than 9 thousand Btus by the end of 2008.
Through that energy efficiency we have met approximately 75 percent of our new demand for energy.

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