Government and private sector research programmes play a critical role by developing and demonstrating advanced technologies that meet human needs more effectively, at lower costs and with fewer adverse environmental impacts. The technologies that are making a difference now are the results of past research. While this Report focuses on existing and near-term technologies, it is important to recognise the role that today's RD&D programmes will have in developing the ESTs for the technology transfer programmes of the future.
For example, the U.S. Department of Energy played a key RD&D role in the introduction--among other new products--of low-emissivity windows, electronic ballasts, and high efficiency supermarket refrigeration systems. These three technologies, alone, have provided U.S. manufacturers with US$3.5 billion in cumulative sales and are delivering 250 Tbtu (264x1015 J) /yr of primary energy savings worth US$1.5 billion a year (Alliance to Save Energy, 1997).
Although not often recognised, a high degree of scientific skill is also required to develop improved products in developing countries, such as the Jiko cookstove in Kenya (See Case Study 1, Chapter 16). In sub-Saharan Africa, where household cooking accounts for more than 60 per cent of total energy use in some countries, this is a high priority. Inefficient combustion of traditional fuels has also resulted in high concentrations of pollutants and acute respiratory infections. For 20 years, international aid organisations have tried to develop improved cookstoves, but have encountered a complex tangle of combustion, convection, conduction, cost, and acceptance problems. The Jiko cookstove is a collaboration between scientists, local craftspeople, and potential users. Today, hundreds of local craftspeople manufacture some 20,000 stoves a month and more than 1 million are in use throughout Kenya. Each stove cost roughly US$2 , uses 1,300 pounds less fuel per month, and saves urban households as much as US$65 a year (one-fifth of the average annual income) (Kammen and Dove, 1997). Another example is in Senegal where the butane cookstove was re-engineered to meet local conditions (See Case Study 7, Chapter 16).
The demonstration component of RD&D can be important in countries with little experience in the application of technologies used elsewhere. This is the situation in Russia and other transition countries with limited experience in modern space heating technologies. Space and hot water heating dominate the energy use of the building sector in Russia, accounting for two-thirds to three-fourths of total residential energy consumption. Most of the space heating is provided to multifamily buildings supplied by district heating systems. The buildings suffer from high energy losses due to heating intensities--the energy required for indoor comfort adjusted to different climate conditions--that are one to two times higher than in Western countries (Martinot, 1997). In typical apartment units, if households paid the actual cost of the space heat and hot water they receive, this would represent 40% of their monthly wages. National and municipal governments face the challenge of addressing this problem, which requires a combination of technical, financial, institutional and social measures. The challenges include forming homeowners associations, developing consumption-based metering, creating utility regulations that encourage energy efficiency investments, providing long-term financing, and increasing the number and capabilities of local design and construction firms.
Research activities among countries fall into two categories. The first area is multilateral and bilateral RD&D programmes that can give countries access to research advances at a lower cost than through separate national programmes and enlarges the pool of researchers, which can lead to more creative approaches and more significant results. An example is the collaborative energy RD&D programme of the International Energy Agency.
A second area is adaptive RD&D, which examines how the advances in one country might be adapted to the needs of another. For example, the RD&D in a developed country might lead to the commercial introduction of a highly efficient 20-cubic-foot refrigerator. In other countries, there may be little interest in such a refrigerator. However, the technologies embedded in the refrigerator--the advanced insulation, seals, compressor, and controls--may be adapted to different refrigerator models for a wide variety of different international markets.
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