Challenges for end-use energy efficiency
Licentiate thesis, 2007

The scientific community has reached close to a consensus that anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are causing a change of the global climate. These emissions arise foremost from the burning of fossil fuels, and secondly from land use change. Energy efficiency has a central role in mitigation strategies for climate change and estimations of potential energy savings are many times high. There are however challenges in realizing these potentials. This thesis analyzes, through case studies, two major challenges for energy efficiency. Firstly, the market barriers that may impede the spreading of energy efficient technology and secondly, that technological development, which decreases the need for inputs of energy, may also lead to an increased demand for energy services. Improvements in energy efficiency in the Swedish building sector came to a stall in the late eighties at a level twice as high as the best performing buildings. The first paper addresses the question of why the development stagnated and the causes of the slow adoption of energy efficient technology in the building sector. Two methods are used: econometric calculations of the price elasticity for specific heating and a qualitative analysis based on interviews with key actors in the building sector and the literature on market barriers. The results show a high correlation between specific energy use for heating and energy prices. This implies that changes in energy prices to a large extent explain the observed stagnation. We also find potential organizational barriers and weaknesses in the learning process. The second paper analyzes the development of the fuel economy of new cars in Sweden and more specifically estimates to what extent technological development has resulted in a net increased energy efficiency (i.e., lower fuel consumption) and to what extent it instead has compensated, fuel-use wise, for improved service parameters. The analysis is based on regressions and analytical models of fuel consumption applied on a detailed database consisting of sales statistics and vehicle model parameters for the years 1975, 1985, 1995 and 2002. The results show that between 1985 and 2002 approximately 35% of the effects of enhanced technology and design resulted in an actual lower fuel use. The remaining 65% have merely “counterbalanced” the increase in consumer amenities such as increased passenger volume and improved acceleration. The third paper studies the possible signs of a downsizing of the Swedish new car fleet, one of the key strategies in order to shift technological development toward lower fuel consumption. In the paper two types of downsizing are analyzed: firstly, a market downsizing, i.e. a shift of the market toward smaller and less powerful cars; secondly a technical downsizing, i.e. technical improvements that enable a reduction of engine size. The study finds few signs of a downsizing in the Swedish market for new cars. From a market perspective larger cars are still dominant and the technical potentials to reduce engine size have not been fully harnessed.

technological development

Swedish building sector


Energy efficiency

fuel consumption

market barriers

Opponent: Hans Nilsson, Four Fact AB


Frances Sprei

Chalmers, Energy and Environment

Subject Categories

Physical Sciences


Opponent: Hans Nilsson, Four Fact AB

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