Can the US cuts its energy use in half by 2050? Yes, but we will have to double down on our efforts.

Five years ago, ACEEE found that energy efficiency could reduce projected 2050 US energy use by 40–60%. As a result, ACEEE established a strategic goal to reduce projected 2050 energy use by 50%. We thought it was time to check on our progress and ask whether our goal still seems reasonable. We find that energy use has been stable in recent years, reversing historical growth, a very positive development that is due in significant part to increasing our energy efficiency. But if we want actual declines in energy use, we will need to double down on our efforts.

We also thought it would be useful to look at potential savings in terms of cost-effective efficiency policies in order to more clearly outline what needs to be done to reach this 2050 goal. So today we release a new white paper with the results of our new analysis. These energy savings are important, because they can save the nation billions in energy bills, create domestic jobs, protect the environment, and yield numerous other benefits.

Thirteen policies we’ll need to ramp up

We applied 13 efficiency packages to the reference case projection of future energy consumption in the 2016 Annual Energy Outlook (2016 AEO), prepared by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA). The packages are:

  • Appliance and equipment efficiency standards and complementary voluntary efforts
  • Zero net energy (ZNE) new buildings and homes
  • Smart buildings and homes
  • Home and commercial building retrofits
  • Behavior change in buildings
  • Industrial efficiency improvements
  • Combined heat and power (CHP) systems
  • Light and heavy duty vehicle fuel economy improvements
  • Reductions in passenger vehicle miles traveled (VMT)
  • Reductions in freight transport energy use
  • Aviation efficiency improvements
  • Reductions in losses from transmission and distribution (T&D) systems
  • Electric power plant efficiency improvements

Our analysis accounts for both overlap between measures, and direct and indirect rebound effects.

Read more (ACEEE)