Japanese manufacturing leads the world in energy efficiency

When oil supplies contract, oil-dependent economies suffer — and Japan prospers. Investors are bullish on Japan’s manufacturing sector, which has been investing in energy efficiency since the oil crisis of the early 1970s. Faced then with few domestic energy sources and near total dependence on foreign oil, the nation’s industrial base set out to lessen its exposure to future energy shocks by fine-tuning production lines, installing advanced systems for power generation, and more. The effort’s paying off: A 2002 study shows that Chinese competitors used 52 percent more energy to produce the same ton of cement as a typical Japanese manufacturer, while European and South Korean firms used 30 percent more, and U.S. companies 77 percent more (oy). And now efficient Japanese companies can cash in on a new business opportunity: consulting on energy recycling and advanced power generation with foreign firms.