Doubling the global pace of progress for energy efficiency (EE): Applying a “Moore’s Law” of EE to technology innovation for off-grid applications

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How might the pace of progress on energy efficiency be improved to help provide increased modern electricity access for the global poor? One answer to this question lies in an understanding of the forces that drive rates of technological progress. This memorandum argues that long term technology planning and road-maps can be forceful drivers of technological improvement and change by setting expectations of progress and defining a set of technical performance and cost milestones over a period of one to several decades. Specifically, the development of technology road-maps has been used to drive technology progress in computer technologies, energy efficiency technologies (especially lighting), solar photo-voltaic modules and batteries. Applying a similar process to a wide range of energy end-use technologies—heating, air conditioning, ventilation, refrigeration, power electronics, insulation, etc.—with a specific focus on off-grid applications can potentially accelerate global progress on energy efficiency improvement. This memorandum specifically argues that accelerated progress in energy efficiency will be critical in providing more affordable and more universal access to modern energy services access. The global market for modern energy access includes the more than 1 billion people who are currently without access to electricity but who wish to acquire such access in the next decade if not sooner. This memorandum shows that the economic conditions of this market will likely require substantially more ambitious efficiency improvement goals from energy efficiency technology road maps than are provided by the economic conditions in more developed countries. Equations that can help quantitatively define these goals are also presented.

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