Improving energy efficiency by five percent and more per year?

Kornelis Blok*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Reduction of specific energy consumption by 1% to 2% per year is typically what is considered feasible for end-use energy applications. This article tries to answer the question of whether much higher rates, for example 5% and more, are feasible for new equipment, installations, and buildings. After examining some end-use functions in industry, buildings, and the transport sector, it is concluded that for the foreseeable future - that is, not more than 10 to 20 years into the future - such high rates of reduction of specific energy consumption are indeed possible. For the longer term, no definitive proof is available, but there are also no indications that such high rates could not be maintained. The effect of the reduction of specific energy consumption on total energy use depends on the growth of energy-using activities and on the replacement rates of capital stock. Taking these into account, it is estimated that for industrialized countries a reduction of absolute total energy use by 50% in 50 years compared with the current levels is possible. Such a reduction requires a huge effort in innovation; however, the possibilities for stimulating innovation seem not to be exhausted yet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-99
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Industrial Ecology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Eco-efficiency
  • Household energy
  • Manufacturing energy
  • Specific energy consumption
  • Technological innovation
  • Transportation energy


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