1,000 million people live without electricity and 3,000 million use polluting fuels (firewood or other biomass for cooking or acclimatization).
It was in Vienna (Austria), in the framework of the first International Conference on Energy Efficiency (1998), where more than 350 experts and leaders from 50 countries discussed the best strategies to be applied in the face of energy crises and designated every 5th of March of each year as the international Day of Energy Efficiency as an invitation to the citizens of the world to reflect on the way we live, the energy consumption we generate and the need to take actions to be more efficient in our daily actions . Energy efficiency allows direct energy consumers to reduce their consumption to lower their costs, promote the sustainability of the resource, be more efficient in companies and improve the family economy.
According to the World Bank, energy efficiency, which includes energy savings at the residential, industrial and urban levels, constitutes a fundamental pillar for the achievement of national goals related to energy and climate change. For this institution, energy efficiency is often called “the first fuel”, that is, the resource that must be used before any other energy alternative.
Access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy – the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7- is essential to end poverty and meet other UN SDGs. Today, more than 1 billion people live without electricity and another 3 billion use polluting fuels such as firewood or other biomass to cook or acclimatize their homes, which generates air pollution in open and closed spaces, a problem that worldwide causes around 4.3 million deaths every year.
Energy efficiency in Ecuador
From the Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy (MEER), through the National Energy Efficiency Directorate, it has been proposed that energy efficiency does not imply renouncing the quality of life, but rather obtaining the same goods, services and performing the same activities without wasting it. This has been developed through different programs and projects aimed at the technological replacement, management and transformation of the cultural habits of the population, aspects embodied in the National Energy Efficiency Plan (PLANEE), which prioritizes energy efficiency as a sustainable growth model and respects the environment and the prosperity of people.
The Plan for Standardization and Labeling, the Program for the Renewal of Inefficient Energy Consumption Equipment, the Efficient Public Lighting Project, the Energy Efficiency Project for the Industry, the Saving Spotlight Project, the Renova Plan , among others, are the actions promoted by the State to achieve energy efficiency in Ecuador.
Energy efficiency is a concept that is accommodated and strengthened in the country’s Constitution, since it promotes the efficient and effective use of natural resources, favoring the use of non-conventional energies in the productive sector.
Art. 15.- The State shall promote, in the public and private sectors, the use of environmentally clean technologies and alternative, non-polluting, low-impact energies. Energy sovereignty will not be achieved to the detriment of food sovereignty, nor will it affect the right to water.
The INER strut of energy efficiency research
For the past six years, Ecuador has had the National Institute for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (INER), in charge of generating knowledge in these areas; and as a priority line, the Energy Efficiency has contributed with studies and research in: public lighting, buildings, industry and transport, which are already a reference at national and international level.
This institution designed and built the first solar catamaran in the country, called “Solar Genesis “, a sustainable alternative to the use of fossil fuels to transport passengers from Baltra Island to Santa Cruz Island in Galapagos.
Another contribution to energy efficiency was the preparation of the book “Energy Optimization Study of Logistics Chains of Heavy Freight Transport”, which will be put to the consideration of the public in the coming days. This study generated an optimization model of the heavy load logistics networks and their operation related to the optimization of times and distances in distribution routes.
Research on energy efficiency in public lighting, buildings and industries and through its laboratories for energy efficiency in public lighting and thermal characterization of materials is to maintain and improve the lighting conditions suitable for areas for mobility, ornamentation and security, with the lowest possible energy consumption and adequately dispose of the resources involved in the construction and use of a property, minimizing energy consumption and maintaining or improving quality levels in services, respectively; In addition, through a prototype house is investigated thermal comfort conditions that meet the requirements of the average Ecuadorian family and also, be energy efficient.
” Heating , cooling, moving, illuminating: energy is the fuel of the modern world. But climatic and environmental problems force us to rethink the way we use energy in daily life. If we do not want to mortgage the future of our children, let’s act today. ”
As the industry is a fundamental engine for the economic growth of the country, energy efficiency becomes an ally for its productivity and the INER has a prototype Organic Rankine Rank plant located at the Quevedo II Thermoelectric Plant and whose process, which takes advantage of the recovered heat to generate energy, saves on the consumption of fossil fuels, prevents the emission of greenhouse gases, among other benefits, with technological improvement will be emulated in Galapagos and can be applied in the national industry.
Other research and published scientific articles are also part of the contributions of this research center in benefit of the country’s energy efficiency and its contribution to the SDGs.
Energy is important for human development this is a right and citizens must take responsibility for their consumption rationally.
When we are efficient in the use of energy, we reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we achieve greater energy security, we generate less pressure on national budgets and at home, we achieve greater reliability in electric power systems, we improve productive sectors, education, health, improve competitiveness and ultimately, adding other factors, reduce the carbon footprint and lead the country towards development. (I)