Energy sufficiency

This thread seeks to collect ideas and sources on energy sufficiency. Energy sufficiency examines whether some the energy services that households and firms currently consume are in fact necessary or indeed even beneficial. In contrast, lifestyle change usually covers both energy efficiency and sufficiency.

Darby and Fawcett (2018) review the concept. The Energy Sufficiency website offers ongoing information.

Samadi et al (2017) review the literature and define and examine the role of sufficiency in future energy scenarios. They also survey studies that have explicitly considered lifestyle change and the extent to which sufficiency can be quantified.

A trialog, scheduled for 22 February 2019, is being run by the German Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech). An unofficial translation of the event outline provides a flavor of how the debate is being framed in this case:

In order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, the energy supply must be radically changed. There is no question that we need new technologies and effective legislation to achieve this. But we rarely realize how deeply this transformation will affect our everyday lives. If the further expansion of photovoltaic and wind power plants is to be limited, we must drastically reduce the use of energy. Among other things, this may mean that driving and flying will no longer be possible to the same extent that they are today. But the necessary conversion also offers opportunities, for example to make cities a better place to live. How can and must we change our daily lives in order to integrate new technologies and use energy and resources more efficiently? Which things, that are still taken for granted today, might need to be abandoned in the future? What do the changes mean for industrial production and for companies? And how can we best prepare for change?


Darby, Sarah and Tina Fawcett (2018). Energy sufficiency: an introduction — Concept paper. Stockholm, Sweden: European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ECEEE).

Energy Sufficiency (ongoing). Energy sufficiency. European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ECEEE). Stockholm, Sweden. Website.

Samadi, Sascha, Marie-Christine Gröne, Uwe Schneidewind, Hans-Jochen Luhmann, Johannes Venjakob, and Benjamin Best (1 November 2017). “Sufficiency in energy scenario studies: taking the potential benefits of lifestyle changes into account”. Technological Forecasting and Social Change. 124: 126–134. ISSN 0040-1625. doi:10.1016/j.techfore.2016.09.013. No paywall.

Not energy, but sufficiency in modelling climate protection scenarios, a publication by the German Umweltbundesamt 55/2018. From the abstract (text only in German):

Combining all the above findings, initial recommendations for th e modelling of sufficiency were formulated. These recommendations are aimed at all those who work with modelling quantitative climate protection scenarios. In addition to technical model recommendations on methodological requirements, the recommendations focus on three important aspects:

  1. Model ling exercises should allow for exploring possible solution pathways in the field of sufficiency. The necessary models are to be developed for this purpose. By comparing the results derived by different models, helpful bases for policy decisions can be provided.

  2. The calibration of sufficiency in models should be improved and standardized. Ideally this is facilitated by means of a freely available and scientifically sound database.

  3. Communication on the importance of sufficiency should be improved. For example, narratives should be developed and the results should be translated into vivid images.

To complete the triad of efficiency and sufficiency, last be mentioned consistency. The latter term is what is trying to be achieved by switching to more climate friendly and environment compatible energy sources, like RES. From this perspective, sufficiency is probably the least sufficiently included dimension in many models (pun intended).

Full reference for publication reviewed above:

Zell-Ziegler, Carina, and Hannah Förster (July 2018). Mit Suffizienz mehr Klimaschutz modellieren: Relevanz von Suffizienz in der Modellierung, Übersicht über die aktuelle Modellierungspraxis und Ableitung methodischer Empfehlungen — Texte 55/2018 [Model deeper climate protection with sufficiency: relevance of sufficiency in modelling, overview of current modelling practice and derivation of methodological recommendations — Document 55/2018] (in German). Dessau-Roßlau, Germany: Umweltbundesamt (UBA).

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