John A. “Skip” Laitner

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the United States will spend ~$1.1 trillion in 2017 for its many uses of energy — whether for heat, electricity, or for transportation needs.  At the same time, a growing number of studies document huge opportunities to dramatically lower those costs over time.

One study suggests energy efficiency can provide ~250 billion barrels of oil equivalent by 2050 Click To Tweet

One study suggests energy efficiency can provide ~250 billion barrels of oil equivalent by 2050. More critically, that level of efficiency might also enable a greater level of overall productivity — resulting in a more sustainable economy.  Yet, that scale of improvement will also require a more purposeful effort and a more targeted investment.

In the tradition of the “Fermi Problem” I offer a thought experiment in the form of an infographic that provides “a first look” at the full efficiency opportunity.  With the caveat that the information is provided more for insight rather than precision.

From 2018 through 2050, we might be looking at a net energy bill savings of $274 billion per year with #energyefficiency improvements Click To Tweet

First, if we assume the need to fund policies and programs that drive the needed scale of investments; if we assume that energy efficiency improvements lower energy demand 40% by 2050, and pay for themselves over 7 years (ranging from less than 1 year to perhaps more than 15 years); and finally, if we assume that we must borrow money at, say, 3% interest over 20 years, then over the years 2018 through 2050, we might be looking at a net energy bill savings of $274 billion per year. That is on average. By the year 2050 the net savings might be twice that amount.

Fermi Problem on Program Costs, Investments and Energy Bill Savings 2018-2050
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