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EU electricity consumption grows despite efficiency drive, says EU report

Despite measures to improve energy efficiency and curb carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in Europe, a study has found that these efforts are being outstripped by the growing economy where electricity is more and more in demand.

The report, from the European Commission's Joint ...
EU electricity consumption grows despite efficiency drive, says EU report
Despite measures to improve energy efficiency and curb carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in Europe, a study has found that these efforts are being outstripped by the growing economy where electricity is more and more in demand.

The report, from the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), shows that between 1999 and 2004, Europe's electricity consumption rose in line with GDP growth, effectively nullifying the energy-efficiency improvements made during that period.

Based on a 2006 survey of electricity consumption in buildings and on the market share of energy-efficient appliances, the study found electricity consumption grew in all sectors of the economy, reaching 15.6% in the tertiary (service) sector, 9.5% in the industrial sector and 10.8% in the residential sector.

The increase in energy consumption can be explained by the widespread use of traditional appliances such as dishwashers and air conditioners, as well as 'the increased number of double or triple appliances, mainly TVs and refrigerators/freezers in households, and the general increase in single family houses and larger houses and apartments', states the report.

Another factor identified in the report is the 'increasingly common phenomenon' of the use of the 'stand-by' feature in appliances and consumer electronics. The report points out that consumption in this area could be easily remedied through new technology, which makes it possible for manufacturers to produce equipment with very low stand-by losses.

The JRC report also highlights incandescent light bulbs as an easily addressable problem. Given that 95% of the electricity they use to produce visible light is wasted as heat, modern technology could contribute to their more efficient use.

Just as many governments around the world have encouraged the phasing out of incandescent lighting, the JRC report notes that this may be a valid area of savings for Europe as well, in particular in view of the new, very efficient Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) and white Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) technologies.

Source: European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC)

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