Action on energy efficiency requires both technological and social change

Although sometimes overlooked in the race to devise innovative solutions to the climate crisis, energy efficiency remains crucially important. Energy efficiency has contributed to greater savings in primary energy and faster reductions in emissions compared to the transition to renewable energy resources. While the growth in global energy consumption dropped by 2.1% during the pandemic year of 2022, the growth rate remains higher than the average rate measured from 2010 to 2019. What can we do to slow this rate of growth, or even reverse it?

One of the best ways to take immediate and effective action is to transition from conventional lighting to energy-efficient LED lighting. LED light sources consume less than half the energy consumed by incandescent and fluorescent light sources, and up to 80% less energy when managed in a connected system. An individual light bulb or luminaire consumes a small amount of energy, but since lighting is everywhere that people are, the global lighting footprint is significant.

This means that transitioning to energy-efficient lighting solutions can have a significant effect. Since economic growth results in global increases in the use of artificial lighting, inaction will result in a significant increase in global energy consumption for lighting by 2030. While the global transition to energy-efficient LED lighting is moving very quickly—approximately 85% of lighting sales at Signify are LED today, for example—there are still significant benefits that can be gained by accelerating the depletion of the installed base of conventional lighting, which still accounts for almost 50% of all light points in the EU and the US. In fact, the worldwide switch to LED and connected LED could decrease global energy demand for electricity by 30%, while at the same time reducing carbon emissions by 1.4 billion metric tons a year. The switch is easy and relatively inexpensive to make, in both residential and commercial built environments.

It is important to keep in mind that making the transition to energy-efficient lighting involves not just technological change but also social change. People should be willing to make the switch. Individuals have to understand the positive effects of well-managed LED lighting on comfort and well-being. Businesses and cities have to understand its advantages not only in terms of energy and emissions reductions but also in terms of improvements to operations and quality of life.

A sense of urgency is appropriate. But fearmongering and finger-pointing will not bring about the necessary social change. Instead, the emphasis has to be on taking effective energy-efficiency action and improving the quality of life, work, and the economy. With the right approach, we can have our cake and eat it too.


Harry Verhaar
Global Head of Brand, Communication & Marketing

Follow us

Privacy Policy

© All right reserved

System efficiency in 2024: Three priorities for the next EU Commission

System efficiency is a key metric to evaluate how far the European Green Deal has taken us in the energy transition.  

Why system efficiency and what is it?  System efficiency is the measure of how well a system utilizes resources to achieve its desired output with minimal waste. In this context, it refers to the systematic application of the Energy Efficiency First (EE1) principle. This means that examining system efficiency provides a way to assess the broad socio-economic advantages linked to measures improving energy efficiency. 

To maximize efficiency, we need to accelerate the decarbonisation of buildings, ensure that future energy networks are designed to electrify most of the economy, while strategically focusing on using hydrogen in hard-to-electrify applications as gas networks are decommissioned due to declining fossil gas demand. 

The recent agreement on the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) only requires minimal obligations for Member States, leaves flexibility for fossil fuel technologies, and avoids banning certain heating technologies in buildings. 

Despite positive steps such as establishing the European Network of Network Operators of Hydrogen (ENNOH) to counter fossil gas industry influence, challenges remain in the gas package directive, which applies hydrogen unbundling rules only to Transmission System Operators (TSOs), leaving Distribution System Operators (DSOs) exempt and potentially leading to costly hydrogen investments at the local level. 

Considering the above, the next EU Commission can improve overall energy system efficiency by following three priorities: 

  1. Making energy efficiency an energy security priority through a new task force that focuses on leveraging energy efficiency progress and demand flexibility as an active lever towards European energy security. 
  2. Making local delivery institutions fit for delivering energy efficiency, providing increased support for municipalities and regional governments and setting targets for system transformation. 
  3. Enhancing system efficiency in gas networks by establishing a framework for decommissioning obsolete fossil infrastructure and strategically designing hydrogen networks for areas where no other decarbonisation option exists. 

Raphael Hanoteaux
Senior Policy Advisor

Follow us

Privacy Policy

© All right reserved