Germany Tops Global Energy Efficiency Rankings

Energy EfficiencyWashington, D.C. - Germany comes in first in a new energy efficiency ranking of the world’s major economies, followed by Italy, the European Union as a whole, China, and France, according to the 2014 International Energy Efficiency Scorecard published on July 17 by the non-profit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). New to the rankings this year are four nations: India, Mexico, South Korea, and Spain.

Now in its second edition, the ACEEE report finds that, while some countries are still significantly outperforming others, there are substantial opportunities for improved energy efficiency in all economies analyzed, including the U.S., which ranked 13th out of 16 nations – behind countries such as China, Canada, and India. The new carbon pollution standards for existing power plants proposed this June by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would be a major stride in the direction of greater energy efficiency in the U.S. There are dozens of other international best practices that the U.S. could implement to improve its score.

The rankings are modeled on ACEEE’s time-tested approach to energy efficiency ranking of U.S. states, and include 16 of the world’s largest economies: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union. These 16 economies represent over 81 percent of global gross domestic product and 71 percent of global energy consumption.

On a scale of 100 possible points in 31 categories, the nations were ranked by ACEEE as follows: (1) Germany; (2) Italy; (3) the European Union; (tied for 4) China; (tied for 4) France; (tied for 6) Japan; (tied for 6) United Kingdom; (8) Spain; (9) Canada; (10) Australia; (11) India; (12) South Korea; (13) United States; (14) Russia; (15) Brazil; and (16) Mexico.

2014 International Energy Efficiency Scorecard
2014 International Energy Efficiency Scorecard. © ACEEE (Click here for a larger version)

ACEEE divided the 31 metrics across four groupings: those that track cross-cutting aspects of energy use at the national level, as well as the three sectors primarily responsible for energy consumption in an economically developed country — buildings, industry, and transportation. The top-scoring countries in each grouping are: E.U., France, and Italy (three-way tie for national efforts); China (buildings); Germany (industry); and Italy (transportation).

ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel said, Germany is a prime example of a nation that has made energy efficiency a top priority. The United States, long considered an innovative and competitive world leader, has progressed slowly and has made limited progress since our last report, even as Germany, Italy, China, and other nations surge ahead.”

Dr. Philipp Ackermann, Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission, Chargé d’Affaires, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, said, “We are very pleased that Germany ranks first in ACEEE’s analysis of energy efficiency efforts among the world’s 16 largest economies. We see this as a validation that Germany’s measures are bearing fruit in its ongoing efforts to transition towards a low-carbon and energy-efficient economy. At the same time, we will continue to strive for further improvements. Energy efficiency is the second pillar of Germany’s transformation of its energy system alongside the expansion of renewable energies. Every kilowatt hour of electricity that is not consumed saves on fossil fuels and the construction of power plants and grids.”

U.S. Congressman Peter Welch (Vermont) said, “There’s really no excuse for the U.S. lagging behind other nations on energy efficiency. States like Vermont have demonstrated that energy efficiency saves money, reduces environmental impact, and creates jobs. And, in an environment of gridlock, there is bipartisan common ground on this issue in Congress. I hope the 2014 International Scorecard is a wake-up call that it’s time for America to step-up and lead on energy efficiency.”

The ACEEE report points out that while the U.S. has made some progress towards greater energy efficiency in recent years, the overall story is disappointing.

“The inefficiency in the U.S. economy means a tremendous waste of energy resources and money. Across most metrics analyzed in this International Scorecard, in the past decade the United States has made limited progress toward greater efficiency at the national level. The overall U.S. score of 42 is less than half of the possible points and is 23 points away from the top spot. Further, the United States falls behind Canada, Australia, India, and South Korea. These scores suggest that this list of countries may have an economic advantage over the United States because using less energy to produce and transport the same economic output costs them less. Their efforts to improve efficiency likely make their economies more nimble and resilient.”