Governments should spearhead energy efficiency policies for energy security, Ozan Acar, program manager at think-tank TEPAV, Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey, told Anadolu Agency Tuesday.
Defining energy efficiency as an activity that is produced with the minimum amount of energy input necessary to produce a given level of activity, Acar said "Market forces by themselves cannot solve the problem of underinvestment in energy efficiency. Social gains are greater than private benefits."
Stressing that a well-structured institutional setup is required for increasing energy efficiency in Turkey, Acar stated that the "government's involvement is a must" in achieving this.
"Some of the policy options for governments to increase energy efficiency are in providing consumers access to credible information, leading the industry to produce energy efficient products and increasing access to finance for energy efficient investments," he explained.
Acar noted that Switzerland, Hong Kong an Austria are all highly productive and moderately energy efficient, while Saudi Arabia, Russia and Turkey lag behind in energy efficiency and lack the same production levels.
"The decrease in energy intensity in Turkey was only 7 percent between 2000 and 2014, while this amount was approx. more than 20 percent in European countries," Acar said.
"An ideal energy efficiency agency should be independent, autonomous and flexible in decision making. It should be accountable for its actions and results, and must be capable of engaging, working and influencing a wide range of stakeholders, and be credible in its monitoring and evaluation," he noted.
Acar emphasized that increasing efficient use of energy is a powerful tool for tackling global challenges, such as decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, counteracting scarcity of clean water and poverty.
"Economic growth is a cure to reduce poverty, but sustainability matters for future generations, while the energy sector is at the center of sustainability discussions as a low hanging fruit," he said.
The expert noted that while oil's share in the total primary energy supply among OECD countries fell from 53 percent in 1973 to 36 percent in 2013, and natural gas' share rose from 19 percent to 26 percent, the use of hydropower and biofuels and waste still remain between two to five percent.
"Changing the engines used in manufacturing, insulating building structures, improving grid infrastructure would not only increase energy efficiency, but will also have positive effects on investment costs, energy prices and the cost of capital," he explained.
"Energy efficiency is the answer to mitigate the environmental impacts of overreliance on fossil fuels," the expert concluded.
By Ovunc Kutlu