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ACEEE Looks at Energy Efficiency Potential Studies

August 18, 2014 By Karen Henry

Energy Manage ACEEEThe American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has released a new report, “Cracking the TEAPOT: Technical, Economic, and Achievable Potential Studies,” which focuses on the development and role of energy efficiency potential studies.

The quality of a potential study is the product of the resources and effort that go into it, and whether its assumptions are reasonable or constrained, ACEEE said in the report. However, exhaustive efforts and unlimited resources do not guarantee accurate estimates of potential, or meaningful and useful results because energy system planning is inherently complex and subject to many uncertainties.

Studies are consistently finding a range of savings potential. Using a sample of 45 studies released since 2009, ACEEE found that average annual maximum achievable savings for electricity, as a percent of total sales, range from 0.3 percent to 2.9 percent, with a median of 1.3 percent. For natural gas efficiency programs, average annual maximum achievable savings range from 0.1 percent to 2.4 percent with a median of 0.9 percent. ACEEE’s previous analysis released in 2004 found a similar pattern.

The primary objective of the report is to better understand the nuts and bolts of energy efficiency potential studies and how their various methodological approaches and assumptions influence energy efficiency potential estimates so that stakeholders have a clearer understanding of how various factors can affect energy efficiency potential.

Energy efficiency potential studies are important for assessing the cost-effective potential for energy efficiency, evaluating existing market conditions and developing expectations about energy efficiency program performance; however, they are most valuable in the near term because models and projections break down significantly as time goes by.

Transparent and accessible studies lead to more active, constructive discussions and more rigorous planning, ACEEE said.



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