Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Earth Week Posts: Energy... Monday, 19th

Welcome to Earth Week!

Today we will talk about ENERGY. Topics covered this week are:

* Monday: Energy and Energy Efficiency (today)

* Tuesday: Water (The Water-Energy Nexus)

* Wednesday: Paper (The Paper-Water-Energy Nexus)

* Thursday (EarthDay), April 22nd: Plastic … Dress GREEN-ish…

* Friday: What’s Next?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLtcpyY4fh4&feature=related <--- Fun

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxpgO386JYI&feature=related <--- Fun

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJlBisaAR8Y <--- Balloons

http://ge.ecomagination.com/smartgrid/#/landing_page <--- Smart Grid

http://www.clintonfoundation.org/earthday/quiz.php <--- Cool Climate quiz. Each person who takes it will have $2 donated toward solar lights in Haiti!

Sections listed below:

* Cash for junker appliances. Geat rebates for EnergyStar Appliances.

* The BIG picture of Sustainability

* Action needed, and why.

* Sources of power: the not-so-clean coal, oil, natural gas, renewables and nuclear.

* Coming up next is the nexus of water and power…

* Our EarthDay Energy Tips.

* Things going on earth day

Energy & Energy Savings

Cash for clunkers appears to have been surprisingly successful for cars… Cash for appliances is a 2-week extension in Florida of the hugely successful EnergyStar program by the federal government. It allows people to get discounts and rebates for installing energy efficient appliances, especially refrigerators and air conditioner/heaters. Visit www.myFloridaClimate.com to see more on this for Florida and www.EnergyStar.gov for info on the whole program. This program brought us the compact florescent light (CFL) bulbs that use only about 20% of the power as a regular incandescent light. They are also bring us the LED light which 90% less electricity and last even longer than CFL.

The BIG picture of Sustainability. The global recession was good news for the environment, kinda. The contraction of the world economy during the great recession of 2008-2009 caused the global demand for oil and electric to reduce. Companies produced less and (unemployed) people traveled less. But now with China is growing at more than 10% and the US is going strong at 5% growth, that two year respite has ended.

In the US and Europe, jobs should be slow in coming so, for most people, it should feel like we still have a recession for several more years. During those times, it is unlikely that major environmental-type initiatives would be undertaken.

Action needed, BECAUSE of the uncertainty. The Economist magazine (March 20, 2010) argues that action is necessary now precisely because of the uncertainty surrounding global warming and climate change. A little action now could make a huge difference in 10 years when the science about the degree of impact that humans are having on our environment is more certain. Think of this as an insurance policy -- take a little action now, just in case.

Energy Efficiency alone could save us huge amounts of energy – and money! Doing an energy audit and getting energy efficient appliances could easily save homeowners and businesses 25% to 50% on their utilities. A recent study by McKinsey said that a $0.5T investment in energy efficiency should yield about three times that in savings over a 10-year period. That could be a great cure for the economy and an improvement for the environment as well.

Sources of Power (of our total energy consumption in quadrillion Btu of 99.1 qBtu in 2008). With 4.5% of the world’s population, we in the US consume about 25% of the world’s power. Power for the US comes from the following sources, in this order:

• Oil (37.1 qBtu; 37%±). Oil is the primary source of power in the US. Most of it goes for transportation including gas, diesel and jet fuel. It is also used to produce plastics and many other things. Most of our oil is imported, even though we are a huge producer as well.

The End of Cheap Oil. Many oil fields are being depleted. The estimates that existing fields reduce their production at about 4% each year. Meaning that we need to find another 4% just to stay even. Countries such as Mexico and the United Arab Emirates are running out. Estimates are that the world production of oil will never exceed 85 million barrels per day. That is almost where we are at now. Expect oil to become more expensive over the next 5 to 20 year, maybe outrageously expensive.

• Coal (22.5 qBtu, ~ 22%).. About half of our energy goes toward electricity and about half of that comes from coal. You should cringe when you hear the words “clean coal”. First off, there are the miners who die every year, recently in Virginia and in China. Our coal plants have lots of filtering and scrubbers so the emissions from them are not too bad (but some estimates are that thousands of people still die each year from health issues from these emissions). China doesn’t have the same cleaning/filtering and it is brining on many new coal-powered plants every week. The smog from coal power and vehicles is overwhelming cities and even surrounding countries. Oh, and the coal ash is highly toxic, as seen in the recent ash spill in Tennessee.

• Natural Gas (23.8 qBtu; 24%±).. New technology has really opened up the ability to find and to retrieve natural gas in the US. Fracturing (Fracking or fracing) and horizontal drilling makes huge gas reserves in the US available with very little known impact to the environment and risk to the population. Estimates are the we in the US have a couple hundred years worth! Many times the available energy as Saudi has in oil. It currently costs about one-fourth of the price of gas. It’s cleaner; it’s domestic; and it will create lots of US jobs.!

The wealthy oilman Boone Pickens (www.PickensPlan.com) argues that we have to get off of imported oil and we have to get off of coal. He suggests moving to natural gas as a bridge fuel; NatGas is 30% to 40% cleaner and lower in greenhouse gas emissions than oil and coal. Pickens also really likes wind power for electricity which is currently competitive with coal/oil, but distribution lines are missing from windy plains and mountains to the power grid.

• Renewable (7.3 qBtu; 7%±). Ultimately we need to get to renewable energy. Wind is competitive, but only in windy areas. That requires building the power grid to connect wind to population centers. Solar continues to be more competitive, especially with subsidies… But, funding for subsidies has run out, so many people have already installed solar panels in Florida and they are waiting to get rebates. We produce only a fraction of our power from renewable sources and hydro-electric.

• Nuclear. (8.5 qBtu; 8.5%±). Nuclear is good in that it is a “clean” power source producing very low greenhouse gas emissions. Although, nuclear is now being viewed much better, it too has some issues. The US still has no useful plan on what to do with the radioactive waste.

No matter how you look at power, the best – most efficient kilowatt – is the one saved and, therefore, never produced. Start with energy audits, programmable thermostats and smart meters. Each of us, at home and at business, can substantially save energy. It saves us money and it saves the environment.

It even saves water. Stay tuned for Tuesday’s discussion on the Energy-Water nexus.

Save energy…

Reduce, reuse, recycle

OUR ENERGY TIPS (See links below as well):  (Thanks Raul M)

1. Phantom Electricity. Things that seem to be off (TVs, Sound systems, etc.), but are still running so they can be activated by a remote should consume about 25% of home electricity in the future. Pull the plug or put these electronics on a power strip.

2. Your mobile phone only takes a couple of hours to charge, so don't leave it plugged in overnight. In fact, don’t leave the charge plugged in with nothing attached; it still uses some electricity.

3. As the days get chillier, closing your curtains at dusk, it will stop heat from escaping through windows.

4. Give your computer a good night's rest too, and you'll save money and CO2. The screensaver on your computer uses the same amount of power as when it's on and being used. Switch your PC off if you're going to be away for a while.

5. As the days get hotter, close curtains to block out the sun and stop it from heating up your home.

6. Replace ordinary light bulbs with energy saving compact florescent bulbs or even LED lights. CFL use a quarter of the electricity to produce the same amount of light; LEDs use about 10%.

7. Get a programmable thermostat and use it well. It can easily save you 10-20% on your utilities. As smart meter can also help people analyze their power usage.

8. When out, turn the lights n such off.


• For all incentives, by state go to: http://www.dsireusa.org/

• EnergyStar, http://www.energystar.gov/, checkout KIDS Section.

Also see www.myFloridaClimate.com including the current 2-week special program.

• www.EPA.gov

• www.EIA.gov (US Energy Information Administration.)

• http://www.energy.siemens.com/entry/energy/hq/en/?tab=energy

• Campus Consortium for Environmental Excellence (www.C2E2.org).

• 5 ways to save the environment: (really good). http://environment.about.com/od/greenlivingdesign/a/30_minutes.htm

• 51 things you can do to save the planet: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/completelist/0,29569,1602354,00.html

• http://science.howstuffworks.com/save-earth-top-ten.htm

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