Synergies between Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency - A Working Paper Based on Remap 2030

Dolf Gielen, Deger Saygin, Nicholas Wagner Wagner, Ksenia Petrichenko, Aristeidis Tsakiris

Research output: Working paperResearch

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The United Nations’ Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative is grounded on three interlinked global objectives: 1) ensuring universal access to modern energy services, 2) doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency, and 3) doubling the share of renewables in the global energy mix.
This working paper is the first outcome of the co-operation between the Copenhagen Centre on Energy Efficiency (C2E2) – the energy efficiency hub of the SE4All initiative – and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the renewable energy hub of the initiative.
The working paper looks at the synergies and trade-offs between the energy efficiency and renewable energy objectives of SE4All.The quantitative assessments are analysed using data for eight countries (China, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States), which covers half of global energy use.
This analysis is based on three pillars.The first two identify how the SE4All energy efficiency and renewable energy objectives can be reached separately in the cases where 1) the development of either energy efficiency or renewables follows business as usual, and 2) this development follows accelerated deployment.A third analysis looks at the synergies and trade-offs that result from deploying both renewable energy and energy efficiency measures at the same time.
According to IRENA’s REmap analysis, implementation of the accelerated deployment of renewables in line with the SE4All objective (in this paper, the “REmap Options”) shows that in the eight countries analysed, the share of modern renewable energy increases by a factor of two to four between 2010 and 2030 beyond a business-as-usual case where both energy efficiency improvements and renewables deployment follow current policies (in this paper, the “Reference Case”).
Through the deployment of these renewable energy technologies, the energy intensity (energy use per unit of gross domestic product) of selected countries would decrease by 5-10% by 2030 in comparison to business as usual, where only autonomous improvements of energy efficiency are assumed.
Based on energy-saving potential estimates of the International Energy Agency (IEA), accelerated deployment of energy efficiency can double the improvement rates in energy intensity of the selected European Union countries and India.For the United States and China, however, even higher deployment of efficiency measures are required to reach such levels.
Lower energy demand from measures to accelerate energy efficiency contributes to increasing the renewable energy share of all countries, assuming that renewable energy use will grow following business as usual.This is particularly the case for countries where low demand growth is projected to 2030, such as Germany or the United States.
Accelerated deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy creates a synergy for increasing both the renewable energy share and annual improvements in energy intensity.When the potentials of energy efficiency and renewables are combined, the growth in total primary energy supply (TPES) can be reduced by up to 25% compared to business as usual in 2030.Energy efficiency measures would account for 50-75% of the total energy savings.
Renewable power sector technologies and efficiency measures to reduce power demand will play the key role in both TPES savings and realising higher shares of renewables in the analysed countries.
Working Paper
Realization of the accelerated renewable energy potential alone is not sufficient to achieve neither of the two SE4All objectives.Although some countries could achieve a doubling of their energy efficiency improvement rate through energy efficiency measures alone, it is not possible to achieve a doubling of the renewable energy share through renewable energy deployment alone.
There is a potential trade-off between improvements in energy efficiency that reduce overall energy demand, and renewables, since energy efficiency measures could potentially reduce the demand for new renewable energy capacity as well, and thereby limit absolute deployment levels.
To meet the two SE4All objectives for renewable energy and energy efficiency, total investment needs in the analysed regions amount to an estimated USD 700 billion per year on average between 2012 and 2030, with 55% of the total investments related to energy efficiency measures, and 45% related to renewables.
Several other indicators besides energy intensity and the renewable energy share in total final energy consumption (TFEC) can be used to measure changes in energy efficiency and renewables; they are discussed briefly in this paper.
This working paper ends with recommendations for policy makers suggesting the need to expand this exercise to more countries and to update the energy efficiency potential as new technology data is available.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherInternational Renewable Energy Agency
Number of pages52
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • 1 Conference presentations

World Sustainable Energy Days 2017

Aristeidis Tsakiris (Speaker)

1 Mar 20173 Mar 2017

Activity: Talks and presentationsConference presentations


Cite this

Gielen, D., Saygin, D., Wagner, N. W., Petrichenko, K., & Tsakiris, A. (2015). Synergies between Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency - A Working Paper Based on Remap 2030. International Renewable Energy Agency.