Rational use of energy in urban areas

Updated 04/25/2019

In view of rapid urbanisation in developing countries, the rational use of energy in cities is a priority for sustainable development.

This will help to meet demand for energy services with lower investment in energy production and distribution facilities, thereby freeing scarce
capital for other uses. Furthermore, the rational use of energy allows:
  • decreased energy imports, thus improving the balance of payments;
  • a reduction in the economic impact of the increase in oil prices;
  • easier access to energy services for the poorest people, by reducing;
  • the cost of these services;
  • job creation in energy savings measures;
  • reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
Measures aimed at promoting the rational use of energy are often highly profitable.
The barriers to their implementation stem from the dispersion of the actors involved in energy consumption decisions. French and European experience with different energy efficiency programmes demonstrates the key role of public action, in general through specialised agencies. These programmes must be adapted to each sector of activity as well as to local conditions and require:
  • information for public and private decision-makers;
  • consistent energy tariffs, taking account of actual costs and external factors;
  • regulatory action for energy intensive sectors of activity and for some household appliances;
  • effective technologies;
  • ‘multiplier effect’ training, measurement campaigns, standardisation and certification.
In developing countries, the residential sector often accounts for 35 to 60% of electricity consumption (and up to 70 to 80% of peak consumption), mainly for refrigerators, lighting and audiovisual equipment. In the short term, traditional light bulbs could be replaced by low-energy bulbs. Specific actions enabled by adequate funding can generate major increases in the efficiency of refrigerators.
The poor energy efficiency of new buildings in developing countries will determine long-term energy consumption and growth linked to the development of air-conditioning. It is important to consider the long life-span of buildings and the low rate of rehabilitation.

ADEME carries out projects in the building sector that aim to demonstrate the possibility of improving construction practices, in both cold and hot climates.
The improvement of energy efficiency in industry must be combined with modernisation of production equipment. Specific actions for each sector of activity allow companies in developing countries to participate in global markets by increasing the quality and reliability of production while decreasing energy costs.

Urban resources management