Cover: Energy Services Analysis

Energy Services Analysis

An Alternative Approach for Identifying Opportunities to Reduce Emissions of Greenhouse Gases

Published Apr 10, 2012

by Keith Crane, Liisa Ecola, Scott Hassell, Shanthi Nataraj

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Research Questions

  1. Can energy services analysis lead to reduced energy use and greenhouse-gas emissions?
  2. How is energy services analysis different from conventional approaches to environmental research?
  3. How can energy services analysis be applied to specific needs such as news delivery and personal mobility?
  4. To what other needs could energy service analysis be applied?

This technical report uses energy service analysis (ESA) to identify and evaluate new means to reduce greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions. Most analyses in this area focus on making existing processes more efficient. This report uses ESA to examine possibilities for instead changing how a service is delivered. The report introduces ESA, explains how it differs from conventional approaches and how this type of analysis can be conducted, uses an ESA framework to analyze how changes in the provision of two services — news delivery and personal mobility — might result in reductions in GHG emissions, suggests other areas in which ESA could be applied, and ends with some thoughts on using ESA more broadly. The authors find that technical improvements in any specific sector may not generate per capita reductions in energy use or GHG emissions as large as reductions possible through changing the means by which people achieve the ends currently provided in those sectors (e.g., news, social interaction). However, reductions are constrained by how well the alternative (e.g., e-readers, vehicle sharing) substitutes for the existing means of providing the service.

Key Findings

Energy Services Analysis Can Lead to Greater Reductions in Energy Use and Greenhouse-Gas Emissions Than Conventional Approaches

  • Technical improvements in any specific sector (e.g., newspaper production, vehicle manufacturing) may not generate per capita reductions in energy use or GHG emissions as large as reductions possible through changing the means by which people achieve the ends currently provided in those sectors (e.g., news, social interaction).
  • Reductions are constrained by how well an alternative (e.g., e-readers, vehicle sharing) substitutes for the existing means of providing the service.

This report was sponsored by the United States Department of Energy and was conducted in the Environment, Energy, and Economic Development Program within RAND Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment, a division of the RAND Corporation.

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