Implementing energy efficiency
1. Interim report: Analysis of current situation
Energy efficiency is the ratio between the power output and power inputs. Climate factors affect both the production and use of energy efficiency. Household energy efficiency has strongly been improved by renovations done in residential buildings- external wall insulations, replacement of windows, introduction of stricter building rules in new dwellings, which is why the need for heating is smaller (Odysseus, 2012). However, the greater surface area or design solutions (eg, extensive glass surfaces exposed to the sun result to the need for cooling) can increase the total energy consumption of new homes and apartment buildings. The electricity consumption of households in Estonia has risen in recent years, particularly due to the increase in the number of electricity equipments. At the same time, the need for more energy-efficient and climate resilient technologies, provide new opportunities for industries and business sectors. For example, energy storage technologies for the shifts which can be made during peak hour consumption and smart grid development, building of district cooling in order to save electricity, production of more durable household goods which would more cope with the frequent power cuts, and the creation other electricity systems for buildings. Investments made to energy efficiency help to revitalize local economies, create jobs and provide jobs for the construction sector. The savings what households, institutions and businesses can make out of saving from energy are also important to underline. Energy efficient buildings, landscaping and general organization of transportation and overall city-space will also encourage the growth of urban attractiveness.
2. Interim report: Climate change impact assessment (including analysis of possible risks and vulnerability)
Energy efficiency will mostly be affected by more frequent extreme weather events (heavy wind and rain, thunderstorm, heat and cold waves), increase of air temperature, precipitation and average wind speed as well as by shorter snow cover duration. Along with climate change, various megatrends such as decreasing and ageing of population, urbanisation, technology development and changing consumption habits as well as rising fossil fuel prices will also have an impact on energy efficiency.
Energy end-use efficiency will likely be affected by higher air temperature which in winter will reduce heating demand in the residential and services sector, but in summer it will increase cooling needs. Increasing precipitation and average wind speed, along with bigger dwelling surface per capita, may rise the heating demand in warm seasons. In the transport sector, higher air temperature is also projected to have a positive effect on fuel efficiency. This increase in efficiency will be offset by more ice on roads, anti-slip measures, stronger winds and the use of air conditioners in vehicles which will increase the fuel consumption. Furthermore, shorter snow season and less ice on sea may entail transport growth in winter. In agriculture, the increase of annual precipitation will likely reduce the energy consumption required for irrigation. Periodically, however, the irrigation need may increase due to more frequent heat waves and spring droughts as a result of less snow in winter. The increase in energy use will also be driven by consumers′ demand for vegetables and berries grown all year round in greenhouses.
In energy production and transmission, efficiency will be the most significantly affected by the increase of ambient air temperature which will decrease the effectiveness of cooling systems in fossil-fuels-based power plants. The climate change impact on renewable energy sources (wind, solar, hydro-energy) is projected to be smaller. Some positive changes may arise from the shorter snow season for the efficiency of solar panels and collectors while the increase in air temperature and cloudiness may reduce the efficiency. The increase of average wind speed will be favourable for the wind energy efficiency, but more frequent storms and ice on wind turbines would have an opposite effect. The efficiency of heat pumps will be positively affected by higher air temperature in winter and more precipitation; less snow cover in winter may decrease the efficiency of geothermal heat pumps.