Germany tops table for energy efficiency
Germany is the most energy efficient country in the world, according to rankings by an environmental group. The award came as a new poll showed support for switching to green energy was slipping in the wake of high bills.
The International Energy Efficiency Scorecard put out by a Washington-based non-profit organization named Germany the undisputed champions of energy conservation on Thursday.
This year, Germany overtook the UK, which ranked highest in 2013. Italy came in second place in 2014, while China and France shared fourth place. The USA trailed far behind in 13th.
The annual rankings from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy rate energy efficiency practices using 31 measures in 16 of the world's largest economies.
The report's ranking system looked at energy use, energy savings targets, fuel economy standards for vehicles and energy efficiency standards for appliances to come up with the rankings.
Henning Ellermann, an energy efficiency expert at Germany Trade & Invest was not surprised by his country's favourable ranking. "Germany has been pushing this topic for about three to four decades and was one of the earliest in the field," he told The Local.
Ellermann credited the German mindset for the success. "Getting people to save energy in Germany is not a hard sell," he said.
Among the measurements, the report lauded Germany's plan to reduce primary energy consumption by 20 percent by 2020, and 50 percent by 2050, based on levels in 2008.
"Germany has a strong energy efficiency strategy built into a much larger framework," Ellerman said. "And this makes it much easier for these efforts to succeed."
The council awarded the country first place for energy efficiency in the industrial sector, where the government has mandatory codes on both residential and commercial buildings.
Such requirements have opened the door to energy-efficiency companies looking to gain a presence in Germany. Ellermann mentioned an increase in businesses working in non-traditional energy efficiency sectors, like IT.
"Right now we are seeing a lot of data driven and IT driven ideas in home and building efficiency,” he said.
Energiewende blows cold?
German consumers, meanwhile, appear increasingly critical of the country’s switch to green energy, known as the Energiewende, according to a study released on Friday.
The GfK Global Green Index, a study into consumers’ attitudes, found Germans are losing patience with high energy bills brought about by the switch to green energy.
Less than half (46 percent) of Germans said they were prepared to accept higher energy bills as a price for the switch, down from 56 percent when Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the Energiewende in 2011.
Among the over 65s, support has fallen from 64 percent to 40 percent over the last three years, GfK said.
Willingness to see new power lines and grids put up, a necessary step for the Energiewende to succeed, has also declined from 75 percent in 2011 to 62 percent in 2014.