Energy

Does Energy Conservation Decrease Energy Use?

With the global energy crisis just around the corner, many developed nations of the world are looking to optimize their energy consumption. By increasing energy efficiency, they plan to use lesser energy but produce the same output. Several benefits are expected to offshoot from this idea, with lowering cost of producing energy ensuring higher profit, decrease in harmful emission of gases into the atmosphere, a higher living standard and much less consumption of energy increasing the life of natural resources. Individual consumers desire low energy cost and economic security through energy conservation while commercial users and industrialists are eying maximum profits with the use of energy efficiency.

Although, energy conservation may impart many benefits to us but some economists suggest that in fact, it will cause a growth in energy usage. This observation was first made way back in 1865, by William Stanley Jevons; also known as the ‘Jevons paradox’ it states that improved technology used to increase energy efficiency will cause increase in the overall energy consumption. This suggestion was against the general notion of the time and most disagreed with the opinion.

Later the ‘Jevons paradox’ caught the eye of two economic experts, Daniel Khazzoom and Leonard Brookes who revised the earlier obseravations. In 1992, a US economist Harry Saunders indicated that this indeed held true under a wide range of assumptions and named this hypothesis as ‘Khazzoom-Brookes Postulate’. Now it is established that indeed, attaining efficiency in energy consumption will ultimately cause increase in the utilization of energy sources to meet demands.

This increase will be mainly stimulated by two primary factors. Firstly, with the employment of new technology and advanced research energy use will become much cheaper, incrementing the ability of more and more people to increase energy use. And secondly, as we all know that the key to economic development in the 21st Century is energy sufficiency so energy efficiency will cause rapid economic growth, resulting in increased demand for more energy.

Energy efficiency may hold many benefits for growing economies worldwide but energy conservation cannot be attained completely through energy efficiency alone. Ecological economists suggest that all or a substantial portion of the savings made by lower cost of production through energy efficiency should be dedicated to reinvestment in energy sector or the rehabilitation of environment. Energy conservation, if attained will not only fuel economic growth but its effects on the environment will be a major step towards a greener Earth.

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