2.5 Sustainable Energy Production - Reduction and Efficiency

 

 

2.5 Sustainable Energy ProductionReduction and Efficiency

In order to satisfy the basic needs of all of mankind sustainably, a transformation and increase of energy services is required; one quarter of the worlds population currently uses three quarters of available commercial energy resources; resources that are being rapidly depleted and that are facing exhaustion. The means of improving this situation begin by increasing energy efficiency (alongside promoting using less energy, or conservation), by diversifying energy sources and by moving to the use of renewable energies.


Reduce

The first steps to a sustainable energy system solution is essential and involves reducing the amount of energy we consume. This is an often overlooked concept, as it involves changing the current paradigm of steady economic growth, which is generally associated with increased energy consumption. The economic factor of constant growth will be explored in a later chapter, but in this section it must be highlighted that without fossil fuels, we will not be able to continue our current energy consumption, and these patterns of use must change.


Efficiency

Much of the energy we use in burning fossil fuels is wasted. In any energy transfer there are associated losses, usually in the form of wasted heat going to the atmosphere. Using the example from earlier a thermal power plant is 38.5% efficient, transporting it from the power station to you houses looses another 7%, then once it is in your home further energy will be lost through inefficient appliances. Considering all these losses, and the precious value of the resource in the first place, it does seem absurd that the final end use is a light being left on when nobody is in the room or an empty room being kept warm.


In
transport use, cars can be made to be more efficient therefore using less fuel. However, there is a danger when considering efficiency without first consulting the first ethos of reduction. An increased efficiency coupled with an increased usage could have zero net effect of increased energy use.

As always, economics comes into play here. In industrial processes, a large proportion of the costs of production are often energy costs. Every business will want to maximise profits by minimising costs, so investment will be made to reduce energy costs by making the production processes as energy efficient as possible. These measures are conducted for financial rather than sustainable motivations, but as a result many processes are already as efficient as possible.

The following presentation is about domestic energy use and highlights some of the main sources of wasted energy in the home:

http://www-g.eng.cam.ac.uk/impee/?section=topics&topic=DomesticEnergy&page=slideshow