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Through the Energy Efficiency for Development initiative, USAID assists partner countries in implementing ‘building blocks’ to transform their energy markets.

Energy Efficiency Can Help Countries Meet Rising Energy Demand and Climate Targets

By Andrew Fang, Michael McNeil, Katie Koerper

Improving energy efficiency is an integral but often-overlooked part of low-emission development (LED) strategies that can help countries reach their climate targets while meeting growing demands for energy. By using existing energy sources more efficiently, countries can reduce energy costs and their reliance on carbon-intensive energy sources, thereby lowering greenhouse emissions, improving air quality, and bringing them closer to reaching their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement. Energy efficiency is thus a financially viable and climate-friendly tool for enhancing national energy security.

However, although energy efficiency is considered a ‘win-win’ from both a climate and security perspective, creating an enabling environment in which energy efficient policies can thrive requires significant upfront investment and political support. This is what the Energy Efficiency for Development (EE4D) initiative, supported by USAID in partnership with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), aims to tackle.

 Through EE4D, USAID provides partner countries with technical assistance to help them implement ‘building blocks’ to transform their energy markets in favor of energy efficient technologies. Recently, USAID released a toolkit detailing these building blocks as a blueprint for countries looking to enhance energy efficiency on their path to energy independence and security. 

One building block entails developing energy efficient standards and retrofits. This includes evaluation of market dynamics and regulatory costs and benefits, development of technical standards, and engagement with stakeholders—from consumers to energy providers. For example, through the Mexico Cooling Initiative, USAID and LBNL have been working to improve space cooling efficiency through improved building codes, pilot projects, and regulatory support and training.   

Financial incentives and bulk procurement programs can also help prime the market and finance high-efficiency technologies by reducing costs to end-consumers and creating economies of scale.

Another key building block is policy planning, which helps to ensure the long-term viability of energy efficient technologies by integrating energy efficient standards and policies into national development and energy plans, Sustainable Development Goal targets, and nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement. EE4D can help ensure that these standards and policies are quantified in terms of well-defined metrics, and that they include both short and long time periods given the nature of such policies, which tend to have cumulative impacts long after implementation. 

One of the key challenges to implementing policies that promote energy efficiency is the lack of credible data available on energy consumption. To counter this data deficiency in Mexico, EE4D conducted a pioneering study of residential air conditioners to better understand the financial benefits of inverters, an important energy efficient technology, to consumers. The results of the study provided decision-makers with a critical dataset on energy consumption, indicating that high-efficiency inverter air conditioners would thrive in this market. This study illustrates how technical assistance can help support policy and program development for energy efficiency.

By evaluating market dynamics, engaging with stakeholders, and building awareness across the public and private sectors, EE4D helps make energy efficient technology more accessible in emerging markets and lowers barriers to adoption. Ultimately, through these building blocks, high-end technologies can become cost-effective and energy efficiency policies standardized.

As countries look to incorporate energy efficiency into their climate actions, the resources below can serve as valuable tools for policymakers to learn how to transform their countries’ energy markets, bringing them closer to reaching both national climate and development targets.

For more information, visit the EE4D website or follow the links below:

Strategic Objective
Integration, Mitigation
Emissions, Low Emission Development, Energy, Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Infrastructure, Mitigation, Private Sector Engagement, Self-Reliance

Andrew Fang

Andrew is a AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow with USAID’s Office of Energy and Infrastructure. His current work focuses on energy sector resilience issues in the Caribbean. Prior to joining USAID, Andrew worked with the World Bank to evaluate integrated urban planning tools for carbon mitigation. Andrew holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University, a M.S./M.E. from the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability, and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy.

Michael McNeil

Michael McNeil received a Bachelor’s degree in Physics from U.C. Berkeley in 1990 and a PhD in Physics from U.C. Santa Cruz in 1996. Dr. McNeil joined the Energy Analysis Department at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 1999.  Dr. McNeil’s work at the Laboratory has focused on analysis of environmental and financial impacts of energy efficiency policies. In the early 2000s, as a member of the Energy Efficiency Standards Group, he developed innovative analysis tools to evaluate energy, financial and environmental impacts of appliance standards for several products. Since 2005 his research has focused on applying these methods to supporting developing country government efforts to develop effective energy efficiency policies. To date, his research projects have supported policymakers in Mexico, China, India, Uruguay, Brazil, Central America, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Indonesia and Vietnam.  Dr. McNeil was named as the first Director of Berkeley Lab’s Mexico Energy Initiative and focuses his work on research supporting the clean energy transition in Mexico. He co-developed and leads the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Energy Efficiency for Development Program, which provides technical assistance throughout the world.  Dr. McNeil has authored or co-authored three book chapters, nearly 40 journal articles and numerous conference contributions.

Katie Koerper

Katie Koerper is a Learning, Knowledge Management, and Communications Project Associate on the USAID-funded Sharing Environment and Energy Knowledge (SEEK) project. In this role, she provides communications and knowledge management support to environmental divisions in USAID, including the energy division. Prior to joining SEEK, Katie worked in communications and environmental policy for a range of organizations, including the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Ukraine, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Cambodia, and the Wikimedia Foundation. Katie holds a Master of Science degree in International Development and Management from Lund University in Sweden and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Global Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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