It’s easy to tangle up ideas, especially when we approach an issue from a narrow perspective. That seems to be the case with the newly published report by the Breakthrough Institute. Their topic? The “rebound effect.” Their target? Greater levels of energy efficiency. Their conclusion? The rebound effect will negate most of the energy and emissions gains we might see from more productive investments in energy efficiency.
Many in business and policy communities increasingly see energy efficiency as a smart, no-regrets investment opportunity for the U.S. Just one example? It turns out that our current system of generating and delivering electricity to our homes and businesses is an anemic 32 percent efficient. That is, for every three units of coal or other fuel we use to generate power, we manage only one unit of electricity delivered to our homes and businesses. What we waste in the generation of electricity is more than Japan needs to power its entire economy!
What is even more astonishing is that our current level of (in)efficiency has been essentially unchanged since 1960 — since Eisenhower was in office.
And yet, there... Read more