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Coalition Wants to Squeeze More Energy Efficiency from Appliances
April 27, 2012

April 26,  2012

A man speaking at a microphone, in front of a solar panel array
U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu speaks at a U.S. government facility in New Mexico where solar thermal systems are being developed and tested.
New designs for more energy-efficient household appliances are among the top goals announced April 26 at a high-level governmental forum working to speed the global transition to cleaner technologies.

Twenty-three participants in the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM), joined by private-sector leaders, met for two days in London, pushing forward activities to achieve sustainable energy for everyone by 2030. They work in tandem with the Sustainable Energy for All initiative (SE4ALL) led by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Holding its first session in Washington less than two years ago, the CEM promotes economic growth that reduces greenhouse gases and other pollutants; supports renewable energy markets; expands access to clean energy resources and jobs; and works to promote women’s leadership in clean energy careers.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu describes the effort: “By working together, we can seize the clean energy opportunity — saving money for consumers, promoting sustainable economic growth, and protecting the planet for future generations.”

The 22 nations and the European Union participating in CEM account for 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and more than 70 percent of the global gross economic product.

CEM’s Super-efficient Equipment and Appliance Deployment (SEAD) initiative strives to accelerate the manufacture and sale of energy-saving household equipment with stronger government standards for efficiency. SEAD is planning to issue a Global Efficiency Medal competition to motivate appliance-makers toward machines with smaller energy appetites. Flat-panel televisions are selected as the target product in the first competition, and some of the top manufacturers in the world say they’ll design entries. TV accounts for 6 percent to 8 percent of energy use in global residential electricity consumption.

SEAD has also backed a technical exchange leading India to become the first country in the world to adopt comprehensive standards for performance, safety and quality of light-emitting diodes, commonly called LED lighting. The intent is to prevent manufacturers of poor-quality products from taking advantage of consumer interest in efficiency and spoiling the market with inferior LEDs. Lighting is one of the top four uses of global energy.

The United States and Italy also jointly announced the launch of Lighting India, which will bring modern lighting services to 2 million people by the end of 2015, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Energy. A similar effort, Lighting Africa, has already worked to deliver off-grid lighting devices to 2.5 million people in Africa.

These programs are associated with another initiative announced from London — the Global Lighting and Energy Access Partnership (Global LEAP) — which will work to delivery economical but effective solutions to consumers who lack access to modern energy systems.

Director-General Kandeh Yumkella, of the U.N. Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), said of Global LEAP, “The CEM commitments announced today will help children study after dark, support hospitals and health clinics to function properly and spur job creation and other economic opportunities.” Yumkella is also the co-chair of SE4ALL.

Other actions emerging from the CEM meeting include:

• Denmark, Germany and Spain released a global renewable resource atlas that maps the potential for solar and wind energy worldwide.

• Eleven governments are supporting the Clean Energy Solutions Center, an Internet-based technical assistance project that can offer expertise to developing country governments entering the field of renewable energy.

• China, Denmark and Sweden and the United Arab Emirates launched a Global Sustainable Cities Network in pursuit of urban sustainability efforts.

• The United States announced a national women-in-clean-energy program in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.