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Who are the most energy efficient nations in the world?

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) release an international scorecard every few years, ranking each nation out of 100 for their energy efficiency. National efforts to reduce reliance on climate unfriendly fuels, how buildings use and store heat, how industry manage their emissions, and what kind of transportation the population use are all counted in the exhaustive survey.

The most recent report, in 2016, revealed that Germany was at the top of the scoreboard with 73.5 points. The government in Germany has set a target of 50% reduction in energy levels by 2050, compared to levels in 2008, and has implemented a whole raft of policies designed to help this goal come to fruition. In contrast, the UK, at number 5 in the rankings, has seen the government abandon several key climate targets, including cancellations of deals and cutting targets by big numbers.

One way that ordinary people in the UK helped the UK enter at number 5 in the scorecard is by hitting the energy efficiency target under the EU. By doing little things such as using energy efficient lightbulbs, people made a difference—amounting to an 18% reduction in energy usage from the UK’s original 2007 prediction.

Also above the UK in the rankings were Italy, Japan, and France. Both Italy and Japan scored highly in the efficiency of their transport sector, with public transport being used often and cars typically hybrid or electric. ACEEE noted that the UK’s freight system was very energy-intensive and public transport was not often used for daily travel, meaning that cars were the primary thing getting people from A to B — not very energy efficient.

The countries that ranked lowest in the scorecard were South Africa at number 21, Brazil at 22 and Saudi Arabia coming in last place at 23. South Africa’s downfall came with its high reliance on passenger cars and its lack of energy savings in the industrial sector. Saudi Arabia were not able to give a lot of data to ACEEE for the report, but suffered especially by not being able to show they had policies on appliance standards, building codes and energy audits for the industrial sector.

The next ACEEE report may well change the rankings, as well as introducing other countries. The 23 countries in the 2016 study represented 75% of all the energy consumed in the world. It looks unlikely that Germany will lose its first place ranking, but if ACEEE changes its performance metric it could be possible.

Created by Steve Ellwood on 14th December, 2017


Steve Ellwood

Steve Ellwood

Qualified as an Electrician, founder of BLT Direct