ACEEE: Semiconductors Driving Force Behind U.S. Energy Efficiency Gains

by | May 13, 2009

aceee3Semiconductor technologies are so essential to advances in energy efficiency gains that the U.S. economy could expand by more than 70 percent through 2030 and still use 11 percent less electricity than it did in 2008, according to a new study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Between now and 2030, electricity bills could be reduced by $1.3 trillion assuming that the right investments and policies are in place, eliminating the need by the end of the period for 296 power plants.

Semiconductor Technologies: The Potential to Revolutionize U.S. Energy Productivity, finds that semiconductors already are the leading factor behind energy efficiency gains: “Compared to the technologies available in 1976, we estimate that the entire family of semiconductor-enabled technologies generated a net savings of about 775 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in the year 2006 alone… [H]ad we expanded the size and scope of the U.S. economy based on 1976 technologies, it appears that the U.S. would be using about 20 percent more electricity than actually consumed in 2006. Stated differently, had we continued to rely on 1976 technologies to support the U.S. economy today, we might have had to build another 184 large electric power plants to satisfy the demand for goods and services.”

The ACEEE report outlines an investment model to achieve the most from semiconductor-enabled energy efficiency. “We estimate these to begin with a modest $7.1 billion of incremental investments in 2010, rising to as much as $28.7 billion by 2030. The average annual investment over the next two decades is about $22.5 billion. Cumulatively, the market for these new technology investments is about $472 billion over the period 2010 through 2030. But there is a hefty return on these investments. We estimate the electricity bill savings to average just over $61 billion over that same period of analysis, producing a cumulative electricity bill savings on the order of $1.3 trillion over that same time horizon. What’s the bottom line? The savings are about 2.7 times the investment cost.”

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