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1. #EnergyTwitter, a nerdy question about performance standards. For as long as I can remember I've been vaguely aware of Japan's "Top Runner" program for appliance & device standards. And it has always struck me as incredibly clever.…
2. The basic idea: for a given product category, determine the average energy efficiency. Manufacturers who fall below it pay a small penalty w/ each product; manufacturers who exceed it get a small bonus w/ each product. Then, in five years ...
3. ... *reset the product category baseline*. (After all, manufacturers have been competing to get those bonuses, so the average efficiency has increased.) Then, same thing: payments goes from those below it to those exceeding it. Repeat each five years, in perpetuity.
4. Advantages: first, the policy produces continuous improvement (as @hal_harvey emphasizes); it doesn't hit some arbitrary target & stop, it just keeps working. Second, it doesn't take any money out of the sector - just redistributes a bit - so there's no economic hit at all.
5. I just find it conceptually appealing: this program, puttering away, continuously improving the performance of various appliances, cars, etc. without bothering anyone else. Seems like the lowest possible political lift (not a tax!) for the highest possible payoff.
6. So I guess my question is: why, given how awesome it looks on paper, do I never hear about it spreading? It seems like it ought to be the default form of performance standard! It seems like something literally every country can (& should) do, tomorrow. Why aren't they? </fin>
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