The Negawatt Revolution — Solving the CO-2 [& Energy] Problem —

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development


“My 1976 article entitled “Energy Strategy: The Road Not Taken?” which appeared in Foreign Affairs, suggested two ways in which the energy system could probably evolve over the next fifty years or so, using the United States as an example. If you divided by something like a factor of nine or ten, you would get Canada.”…

“If the U.S. spent only enough on efficiency to keep up with growth and demand for electric services, plus the net retirement of generating capacity, we would have almost enough capital left in surplus to double our rate of investment in durable manufacturing industries.”

The Importance of Electrical Efficiency

“Why do I concentrate on electricity? First, because it is by far the costliest form of energy. Each cent per kilowatt-hour is equivalent in heat content to oil at $17 dollars a barrel, roughly the world oil price. So the electricity we buy, even in Canada where it is quite cheap, is equivalent to heat at many times the world oil price. Therefore saving electricity is more financially rewarding than saving direct fuels. In addition, electricity has enormous capital leverage because central electric systems — the whole systems — are about 100 times as capital intensive as the traditional direct fuel systems (you know, Texas and Louisiana and Alberta oil and gas — the sorts of things on which our economies were built). In fact a quarter of all the development capital in the world goes to electrification.

“Also electricity has huge environmental leverage. Power plants burn a third of the fuel in the world. They account for a third of the CO2, therefore, released from the burning of fossil fuel. In my own country they release two thirds of the sulphur oxides and a third of the nitrogen oxides. What’s more, every unit of electricity you save at the point of use saves typically three or four units of fuel, namely coal at the power plant. And in socialist or developing countries that ratio is more like five or six to one.

So you get the most environmental benefit from saving electricity, as well as the most financial benefit.”

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Taking energy efficiency seriously

See on Scoop.itGreen Building Operations – Systems & Controls, Maintenance & Commissioning

Despite the lack of attention paid to the issue during this year’s presidential campaign (at least, before Sandy came along), Barack Obama’s first term was a bit of a quiet revolution for climate change policy in America…

“More than 13 percent of the $700 billion American Recovery Act went to energy spending, most of it green. … the largest portion – $32 billion –went to energy efficiency and retrofitting projects. This was the biggest such investment in the history of history. It may even have finally heralded the arrival of a “Negawatt Revolution”….”

“Still, the right incentive structures to encourage the necessary investments in energy efficiency are not yet in place. Energy bills are still viewed by customers in terms of monthly costs that would go up because of short-term investments rather than yearly ones that will ultimately go down because of long-term savings….. The Negawatt Revolution may have begun in earnest during these past four years, but we can’t afford to wait until 2037 for it to finally reach its full potential. The possible benefits to the environment – and the economy – are too great for us to continue to forego.”

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