ATLANTA - A new study led by the Georgia Institute of Technology and distilled from 19 reports published across the South - including those of the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance - finds that widespread use of energy-efficient products could bring consumption 9 percent below the levels now projected for 2020, while also reducing the need to build more coal-fired power plants in the region through 2020.
Funded by the Energy Foundation and the Turner Foundation, “Meta-Review of Efficiency Potential Studies and Their Implications for the South,” cites a number of energy-saving opportunities in both the public and private sectors. Many of these would take place in the private sector, where homeowners can make energy efficiency upgrades such as installing heat pumps, insulation, and efficient window treatments.
Similarly, the study recommends that the commercial sector adopt new lighting standards and more efficient cooling systems and replace aging boilers and burners in industrial plants with newer, more efficient versions.
Additionally, the study also found that the South (defined here as a 16-state area extending from Texas to Maryland) has been one of the last regions in the U.S. to implement energy efficiency programs and consumer outreach - despite the fact that it consumes 44 percent of the nation’s total energy while hosting only 37 percent of its population.
Should the South adopt the study’s energy efficiency recommendations, the report says the energy savings could largely offset the region’s rising energy demand. According to Georgia Tech’s Dr. Marilyn Brown - Alliance board member and co-author of the study - “We’re not saying that new plants aren’t needed, because new plants can replace old clunkers that need to be replaced. But we don’t need to build for an expanded demand if the Southern states would begin to launch energy-efficient programs.”
The full report and its executive summary can be found at www.spp.gatech.edu/faculty/workingpapers/wp51.pdf