The Scores are In: The International Energy Efficiency Scorecard

In terms of the most significant international competitions most would agree that it goes the Olympics, The Football World Cup and then the Energy Efficiency Scorecard released by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). Given that one has just finished up and the other is still another two years away, now is a good time to focus on the results from ACEEE.

For those unaware the ACEEE publishes a scorecard evaluating the energy efficiency of the top 25 energy using countries worldwide. It evaluates these countries across 35 different criteria falling into 4 different sectors:

  • National Effort
  • Buildings
  • Transportation
  • Industry

It is a combination of policy and performance meaning you can’t just talk about energy efficiency, you have to get in there and do something in order to be ranked highly.

The results are what you would expect with the race being led by Europeans, with the Germans and Italians leading the way, and the Middle East trailing behind with United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia at the bottom of the pack. What is interesting (with New Zealand not being featured) is that our neighbours to the west are not doing particularly well.

Figure 1 – The 2018 International Energy Efficiency Scorecard. Source:

Australia ranked 18th of the 25 countries only being above average in the building category. Their worst sector, industrial, placed 22nd only 0.5 ahead of Saudi Arabia.

Figure 2- Breakdown of Scoring Source:


Looking through the different criteria that are examined, there are a couple of key things that stand out which indicate why Australia was ranked so low:

  • Lack of Government Support – Unlike many countries Australia has no mandate for energy managers on large industrial sites, audits are not compulsory and they do not have a voluntary agreement program set up to encourage businesses in the manufacturing sector to improve energy efficiency. They also do not have encouragement of the ISO50001 Energy Management policy which is standard in almost all countries analysed.
  • Lack of CHP – The report emphasises the benefits of CHP (co-generation where heat and electricity are generated in one integrated system) and Australia has only 5% of their total electric load in CHP systems and has no government encouragement of the system. This is poor given that the majority of their electricity still comes from fossil fuels (84%). This measure isn’t appropriate for a market such as New Zealand where the majority of electricity is generated from renewable resources where CHP isn’t applicable. Russia scores very well in this category however, this is more to do more with electricity market design and not from any particular energy efficiency goals.

Australia’s scores have dropped from 6th place in 2012. This is not necessarily indicative of Australia’s performance regressing, but more of other countries improving.  A webinar hosted by the Australian Energy Efficiency Council in conjunction with the ACEEE recognised that the easiest factors to improve Australia’s standing in industrial energy efficiency would be the introduction of ISO 50001 and the introduction of voluntary agreements. These are two things that have worked quite well in New Zealand’s industrial energy efficiency efforts.