May 15, 2006

Canadian energy efficiency shows 13% improvement, offsetting rise in energy use

Energy efficiency in Canada showed a sizable improvement of 13% between 1990 and 2003, resulting in cost savings of approximately $13.4 billion in 2003 alone, says Natural Resources Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency (OEE).

Also as a result of this improvement, actual energy use rose by 22% rather than the 32% that would have occurred without increases in energy efficiency, says the OEE's recently-released State of Energy Efficiency in Canada report for 2006. Even more significantly, energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are more than 52 megatonnes (MT) lower than they would have been otherwise.

The report reviews trends in secondary energy use, i.e. energy used for heating and cooling in industrial, commercial and institutional (IC&I) and in residential settings, and for operating appliances, vehicles and facilities, for the 1990-2003 period (2003 being the latest year for which data are available). The OEE notes that along with the 22% increase in secondary energy use, associated GHG emissions increased by approximately 23%, accounting for 69% of all GHG emissions in Canada in 2003.

Growth in economic activity in end-use sectors accounted for the increase in actual energy consumption between 1990 and 2003, says the report. For example, industrial activity rose by 45%, which the residential sector experienced a 26% increase in activity. The amount of commercial floor space in Canada grew by 25% during this period, while the transportation sector recorded a 27% increase in passenger kilometres travelled and a 46% increase in tonne-kilometres moved.

At the same time, however, changes in structure, i.e. the mix of energy-consuming activities, helped decrease energy use between 1990 and 2003. This was mainly due to changes in the industrial sector.

In 2003, the industrial sector accounted for about 38% of total secondary energy use in Canada and 34% of secondary energy-related GHG emissions. The second-largest energy-using sector, transportation, accounted for almost 28% of secondary energy use and about 34% of GHG emissions in 2003.

Analyzing the 13% improvement in energy efficiency, the OEE notes that much of the 45% increase in industrial activity occurred in less energy-intensive industries such as electrical and electronics products. This, taken together with the 13% improvement in energy efficiency, held the increase in energy consumption by the industrial sector to 19%. The OEE points out that in the latter half of the 1990s, there were major improvements in energy intensity, which decreased by 12%.

GHG emissions from this sector rose by 19% between 1990 and 2003, although a significant shift toward less GHG-intensive fuels during this period kept the level of GHG emissions below what it would otherwise have been, says the report.

Efforts by companies participating in the Canadian Industry Program for Energy Conservation (CIPEC) accounted for the $3.4 billion in energy savings for 2003, along with the improved energy intensity. A recent study also found a statistically significant difference between energy use by CIPEC and non-CIPEC companies. The growth in energy consumption by CIPEC participants was only about half that for non-CIPEC participants, with three times more participants reporting reduced energy use than non-participants.

In the transportation sector, energy use increased by 15% for passenger transportation and by 40% for freight transport, for an average increase of about 26%. A 16% improvement in energy efficiency help offset increased energy consumption by this sector. GHG emissions from this sector increased by 25% between 1990 and 2003, consistent with the increase in energy use and reliance on fossil fuels.

The report summarizes market data and progress indicators for the various sectors, with those for transportation including the motor vehicle fuel efficiency initiative, the climate change action agreement signed in April 2005 by the federal government and Canada's automotive industry, and fleet-oriented incentives and intiatives for promoting fuel efficiency and use of cleaner, lower-emission alternative fuels.

The 2006 State of Energy Efficiency in Canada report may be viewed on-line at www.oee.nrcan.gc.ca. A CD-ROM version is available and may be requested by calling 1-800-387-2000 (toll-free).

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