Energy efficiency key to transforming global energy system: expert

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Manfred Fischedick highlights the importance of energy efficiency in transformation of global energy system in a speech in Taipei on Tuesday.

Manfred Fischedick highlights the importance of energy efficiency in transformation of global energy system in a speech in Taipei on Tuesday.

Taipei, Nov. 21 (CNA) A visiting German energy expert on Tuesday stressed the importance of energy efficiency in the transformation of energy systems, adding that about two-thirds of primary energy is wasted globally.

Energy efficiency plays a very important role in energy transition strategy, Manfred Fischedick, vice president and director of Future Energy and Mobility Structures at German's Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment, Energy told a forum hosed by the Chinese-language Economic Daily News.

The potential of energy efficiency is largely ignored as the global primary energy system works "a little bit like a bathtub with a leak," Fischedick said.

"We put a lot of energy into the bathtub and at the end there are a lot of losses. We can use one third of the energy but two-thirds is lost," he added.

Photo courtesy of Manfred Fischedick

In a keynote speech entitled "Current status and challenges of global energy development," Fischedick said that moving towards sustainable energy is "a complex but promising task" and he proposed two major solutions -- renewable energies and energy efficiency.

Faced with growing energy demand and dependency on the use of fossil fuels that contribute to climate change, many counties have begun the energy transition process.

Germany and Taiwan have a responsibility to start the energy transition process as they have comparably high per capita energy consumption, Fischedick said.

In that context, Fischedick said he found Taiwan's plan for a future energy industry "very impressive," referring to the government's proposal to eliminate nuclear power generation by 2025 and switch to 50 percent natural gas, 30 percent coal and 20 percent renewable energy resources.

Interviewed by CNA after his speech, Fischedick said he was impressed with the plan because Taiwan knows where its business opportunities are and how to use technology and market deployment strategies to transform its energy system in line with the targets it has set to phase out nuclear power in a very short time period.

Manfred Fischedick, vice president and director of Future Energy and Mobility Structures at German’s Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment, Energy.

Germany also decided to shut down its nuclear power plants by 2022 in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident in Japan in 2011.

Fischedick pointed out in his speech that there are many similarities between Germany and Taiwan. Both are highly dependent on imported energy and look for more green industry while ensuring that renewable projects do not harm ecosystems and create business opportunities, he said.

On renewable energies, Fischedick said that there is not much difference between what Germany and Taiwan have been doing.

Asked by CNA how Taiwan can learn from Germany's experience, Fischedick said that one area of difference is that Germany highlights not only renewable energy but also "energy efficiency."

"Because we do have so many efficient technologies available that can help reduce energy consumption and save money at the same time," he said.

When presenting Germany's case in energy transition to the audience, Fischedick said it's very important to note that Germany was able to "decouple economic growth and primary energy consumption."

"In the last couple of decades, we have seen slightly decreasing primary energy demand over time starting in 1990, while at the same time the economy grew substantially. Decoupling energy consumption and economic growth was a very important development in the last decade in Germany," he said.

Looking to the future, he said the major challenges regarding the implementation of a complex transition strategy are the technological and societal aspects of the process.

On societal challenges, Fischedick said that public perception and societal acceptance of renewable energies are very important because energy transformation can take as long as 30 years.

Fischedick suggested that public participation can be fostered by inviting people to invest money in renewable energy or creating associations so more people can take part in changing the energy system.

More discussions can also be held to increase the number of people taking part in the debate on how to shape sustainable energy in the future, Fischedick said.

(By Shih Hsiu-chuan)

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