Energy Efficiency: What Has Research Delivered in the Last 40 Years?

Posted: 3 Nov 2021

See all articles by Harry D. Saunders

Harry D. Saunders

Stanford University - Carnegie Institution for Science

Joyashree Roy

Asian Institute of Technology (AIT); Jadavpur University - Department of Economics

Inês M.L. Azevedo

Stanford University

Debalina Chakravarty

St. Xavier's University, Kolkata

Shyamasree Dasgupta

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mandi

Stephane de la Rue du Can

University of California, Berkeley - Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab)

Angela Druckman

University of Surrey

Roger Fouquet

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

Michael Grubb

University College London

Boqiang Lin

Xiamen University

Robert Lowe

University College London

Reinhard Madlener

RWTH Aachen University; Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Daire M. McCoy

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE); The Economic and Social Research Institute

Luis Mundaca

Lund University

Tadj Oreszczyn

University College London

Steven Sorrell

University of Sussex

David Stern

Australian National University (ANU)

Kanako Tanaka

Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)

Taoyuan Wei

CICERO Center for International Climate Research

Date Written: October 1, 2021

Abstract

This article presents a critical assessment of 40 years of research that may be brought under the umbrella of energy efficiency, spanning different aggregations and domains—from individual producing and consuming agents to economy-wide effects to the role of innovation to the influence of policy. After 40 years of research, energy efficiency initiatives are generally perceived as highly effective. Innovation has contributed to lowering energy technology costs and increasing energy productivity. Energy efficiency programs in many cases have reduced energy use per unit of economic output and have been associated with net improvements in welfare, emission reductions, or both. Rebound effects at the macro level still warrant careful policy attention, as they may be nontrivial. Complexity of energy efficiency dynamics calls for further methodological and empirical advances, multidisciplinary approaches, and granular data at the service level for research in this field to be of greatest societal benefit.

Suggested Citation

Saunders, Harry D. and Roy, Joyashree and Azevedo, Inês M.L. and Chakravarty, Debalina and Dasgupta, Shyamasree and de la Rue du Can, Stephane and Druckman, Angela and Fouquet, Roger and Grubb, Michael and Lin, Boqiang and Lowe, Robert and Madlener, Reinhard and McCoy, Daire M. and Mundaca, Luis and Oreszczyn, Tadj and Sorrell, Steven and Stern, David and Tanaka, Kanako and Wei, Taoyuan, Energy Efficiency: What Has Research Delivered in the Last 40 Years? (October 1, 2021). Annual Review of Environment and Resources, Vol. 46, pp. 135-165, 2021, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3953095 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-environ-012320-084937

Harry D. Saunders (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Carnegie Institution for Science ( email )

260 Panama St
Stanford, CA
United States

Joyashree Roy

Asian Institute of Technology (AIT)

P.O. Box 4
Klong Luang
Pathumthani 12120, 12120
Thailand

Jadavpur University - Department of Economics

Kolkata, 700032
India

Inês M.L. Azevedo

Stanford University

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Debalina Chakravarty

St. Xavier's University, Kolkata

Action Area III-B
Newtown
Kolkata, West Bengal 700057
India

Shyamasree Dasgupta

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mandi

Mandi, Himachal Pradesh 175 001
India

Stephane De la Rue du Can

University of California, Berkeley - Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab)

1 Cyclotron Road
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Angela Druckman

University of Surrey

Guildford
Guildford, Surrey GU2 5XH
United Kingdom

Roger Fouquet

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

United Kingdom

Michael Grubb

University College London

Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

Boqiang Lin

Xiamen University

Xiamen, Fujian 361005
China

Robert Lowe

University College London

Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

Reinhard Madlener

RWTH Aachen University

Templergraben 55
52056 Aachen, 52056
Germany

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Høgskoleringen
Trondheim NO-7491, 7491
Norway

Daire M. McCoy

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

United Kingdom

The Economic and Social Research Institute

Whitaker Square
Sir John Rogerson's Quay, Dublin 2
Dublin, D02 K138
Ireland

Luis Mundaca

Lund University

Box 117
Lund, SC Skane S221 00
Sweden

Tadj Oreszczyn

University College London

Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

Steven Sorrell

University of Sussex

Sussex House
Falmer
Brighton, Sussex BNI 9RH
United Kingdom

David Stern

Australian National University (ANU)

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601
Australia

Kanako Tanaka

Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)

Kawaguchi Center Building
4-1-8, Honcho, Kawaguchi-shi
Saitama, 332-0012
Japan

Taoyuan Wei

CICERO Center for International Climate Research

Gaustadalléen 21, 0349 OSLO
OSLO, OSLO 0349
Norway

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