How big is the energy efficiency resource?

Most economic theorists assume that energy efficiency—the biggest global provider of energy services—is a limited and dwindling resource whose price- and policy-driven adoption will inevitably deplete its potential and raise its cost. Influenced by that theoretical construct, most traditional analysts and deployers of energy efficiency see and exploit only a modest fraction of the worthwhile efficiency resource, saving less and paying more than they should. Yet empirically, modern energy efficiency is, and shows every sign of durably remaining, an expanding-quantity, declining-cost resource. Its adoption is constrained by major but correctable market failures and increasingly motivated by positive externalities. Most importantly, in both newbuild and retrofit applications, its quantity is severalfold larger and its cost lower than most in the energy and climate communities realize.

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