Energy is a factor of the well being of the people and is a production factor of the commercial and industrial sectors. As a result, energy is a prime mover of the country’s competitive edge and economic development in the long term. Energy is the power we use for transportation, for heat and light in our homes and for the manufacture of all kinds of products. There are two sources of energy: renewable and nonrenewable energy. Nonrenewable energy we use coomes from fossil fuels, such as coal, natural gas and petroleum. Uranium is another nonrenewable source, but it is not a fossil fuel. Uranium is converted to a fuel and used in nuclear power plants. Once these natural resources are used up, they are gone forever. The process of gathering these fuels can be harmful to the biomes from which they come. Fossil fuels are put through a process called combustion in order to produce energy. Combustion releases pollution, such ass carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide, which may contribute to acid rain and global warming. Renewable sources of energy can be used over and over again. Renewable resources include solar energy, wind, geothermal energy, biomass and hydropower. They generate much le
Although non-renewable energy derived from fossil fuel resources will remain the major source of energy for the global consumption for no less than 30-40 years, such energy resources will eventually be depleted. Hence, many countries have paid greater attention to renewable energy development during the past decade (1990-2000). The average growth rate of renewable energy consumption is 8% per year while the consumption of energy derived from various types of fossil fuel grows at a maximum rate of 2% per year. It is necessarily to use energy effactively.
Energy types and consumption
Active Solar Space Heating – Air. Active solar space heating systems also can be found with air as the heat distribution fluid. They are typically iddentified by a thermal collector (air) separate from a living space, a storage medium (usually either rocks or masonry), and an externally powered distribution system that moves the heat from the solar collector to the heat storage area and from there to the living space. These systems also can be configured as “black attics” or forced and thermosiphoning solar thermal air panels which use the whole house for heat storage.
Alternative Building Techniques. Alternative building techniques use common or innovative ma
Alternative Fuels. Alternative fuels are primarily used in the transportation sector. The fuels ethanol and electricity can be produced from renewable energy resources while methanol, propane and natural gas are considered alternative transportation fuels but are generally produced from nonrenewable energy. Methane also can be generated from animal and human waste and by capturing landfill gases.
Active Solar Space Heating – Hydronic. Active solar space heating systems come in many different configurations. They are typically identified by a solar thermal collector (water), a storage medium (usually water in a storage tank), and an externally powered distribution system that moves the heat from the solar collector to the heat storage tank. Typically the hot water is circulated in a radiant floor heating system or through a fan coil mounted in the central air handling unit.
Biomass & Biogas. Biomass and biogas energy are derived from any material containing carbon, hy
Electrical Storage. Renewable energy electricity systems are generally using a natural resource that is consistent, but not constant. By storing excess electricity in batteries, flywheels, pumped storage, compressed air or as hydrogen, renewable energy systems can extend there effectiveness and improve their economics.
Electric Vehicles. Cars, trucks and buses use an enormous amount of energy. Much of that energy is wasted during idling at a stoplight or because of the inefficient combustion of gasoline during acceleration. Even the most energy efficient cars can only convert 30% of the useful energy in gasoline to power at the wheels. Electric vehicles (EVs) are able to store electricity in batteries which provide overall power efficiencies of 80%. EVs can be recharged from the electrical grid or with renewable energy (often called zero-emission vehicles).
Electric Fuel Cells. Fuel cells recombine oxygen and hydrogen to form water and in the process produce electricity. This is th
High Efficiency Woodstoves. Wood is a renewable energy source that is an excellent addition to a solar home design. Woodstoves are being produced with a very high combustion efficiency, which means less wood to chop, more heat in the house and fewer pollutants from the chimney. Fireplaces should be designed with an outside air source and glass doors to keep indoor air from going up the flue. For both fireplaces and woodstoves, it is best if the chimney is centrally located instead of on an exterior wall so that the heated masonry will warm the house and not the outdoors.
Greenhouses & Glazing. Greenhouses can be used for passive space heating but care should be given when building a greenhouse connected to a house. Higher temperatures and humidity beneficial to plants in the winter can adversely affect a building’s cooling load in the summer and increase condensation problems in the winter. Consider building your greenhouse without sloped or horizontal glazing if you hope to gain some solar energy benefit without overheating, or at least provide summer shading and winter insulation for these surfaces.
Geothermal & GS Heat Pumps. The earth is a great resource for thermal energy. Geothermal systems typically refer to deep wells drilled in certain parts of the world where they tap into very high core temperatures by circulating fluid through the well which creates steam used mainly for generating electricity. Another way of using the earth’s relatively constant temperature is through groundsource heat pumps. These systems operate much more efficiently than air to air heat pumps, especially in the winter.
Micro-Hydropower. Consistent running streams and rivers are a good source for generating electricity and mechanical power. Small systems can be installed cost effectively provided there is a sufficient volume of water and drop in elevation, called “head.” Larger scale dams, on the other hand, require large areas of land with a deep reservoir away from population centers.
Insulation, Air & Vapor Barriers. Many new technologies are available for improving the performance of a buildings envelope or shell. Better techniques and products are available for installing insulation, new insulation products, insulated panel systems and concrete forms, improving air sealing and reducing moisture damage in building assemblies. A better building envelope conserves heating and cooling energy which makes passive, active and mechanical heating and cooling systems operate more efficiently.
Industrial Energy Efficiency. Energy efficiency is the utilization of energy for a process or activity in the most efficient manner possible as opposed to energy conservation, which is the reduction in the amount of an energy-using process or activity. Most industrial energy efficiency measures concentrate on motors, lighting, ventilation preheat, heat recovery, and applications of microwave drying technologies.
Indoor Air Quality & Ventilation. As buildings are made tighter to reduce energy use from infiltration, toxic indoor compounds from building materials, biological organisms, and mechanical processes begin to build up. Industrial hygiene and building science experts use proper ventilation techniques, non-toxic building materials and micro-organism mitigation to improve the quality of the indoor air.
Advanced Lighting & Controls. Advanced lighting systems use motion sensors, daylight harvesting, timers, high efficiency electronic ballasts and lamps, task lighting, and LED exit signs to improve the overall performance of the building.
Conservation Landscaping. The effective use of trees, shrubs, ground cover and vines can greatly improve a buildings thermal performance. Well designed landscapes will help shade and cool a building in the summer, yet provide full solar exposure in the winter. Trees can dramatically affect the temperature in parking lots and even in entire cities by reducing the “heat island” effect.
Natural Lighting. Natural lighting (also known as “daylighting”) is the use of light from the sun to illuminate a buildings interior through the use of windows (sidelighting), monitors (toplighting) and skylights. New products in the form of light tubes have recently become available for residential natural lighting.
Permaculture. Permaculture designs view the building and the site as inseparable and integral parts of the whole. There is no distinction between outside and inside environment, rather an emphasis on place. Permaculture design uses “ecology as the basis of designing integrated systems of food production, housing, technology and community development.”
Passive Space Heating. Passive space heating differs from active in that the collection and storage systems are one in the same and /function also as a living space. Heat is distributed throughout the building by radiation and natural convection, though sometimes fans are used as well. There are three broad types of passive systems: 1) a direct gain sunspace that is not separated from the rest of the building, 2) an isolated gain sunspace that is semi-conditioned and can be separated from the building and its mechanical HVAC system, and 3) the attached greenhouse or sunspace that is unconditioned and generally of lighter construction.
Photovoltaics. Photovoltaics is the process of converting sunlight directly into electricity by means of a photovoltaic cell. The photovoltaic cell is a solid-state device composed of thin layers of semiconductor materials, notably silicon, that produce a DC electric current when exposed to light. Single cells are connected in groups to form a module, and modules are grouped to form an array. The voltage and the current output from the array depend upon the system configuration.
Solar Thermal Process Heat. Solar thermal process heat refers to the generation of high temperature fluids used for generation of electricity or for industrial process heat. They typically use a parabolic or compound-parabolic mirror to focus or concentrate the sun’s energy on a relatively small surface, thereby generating higher temperatures.
Solar Water Heating. Solar water heating can be described as passive or active. Passive solar domestic water heating is a simple method for increasing efficiency of any type of water heater. Water coming from a well or distribution system is relatively cold. A passive water heater raises the water temperature to a point that the backup water heater only needs to add a small amount of energy to bring the water up to temperature. Active solar water heating systems provide domestic hot water to residences, businesses and institutions for washing, pool heating, etc. There are many different designs, though typically they have a collector, storage and delivery system.
Thermal Storage. Active and passive systems use thermal storage to extend their range of effectiveness through the night and periods of cloudy weather. Passive systems also use thermal storage or “mass” to moderate internal temperatures. Thermal storage is generally some dense material like water, brick, masonry or rock. Phase change materials also work well because of their low weight-to-heat storage ratio. There are also projects underway in the state that use cold storage systems for the processing of agricultural products.
Wind Power. Harnessing the wind to create electricity, pump water, or produce mechanical power is effective in certain areas of our state. Pumping water to a storage tank is one strategy that is not as affected by the variable nature of wind power. Generating electricity, however, requires a fairly consistent wind speed.
Blinds, Shades & Awnings. Shading of windows is a critical feature of a passive solar home. Often, however, fixed overhangs cannot provide all of the shading that is required. Operable or fixed awnings, shade screen, interior pleated shades, and accordion or mini-blinds all help to reduce unwanted gains in the summer. Some products like accordion and quilted shades offer increased window insulation as well.
The illusion of energy efficiency
As we enter the summer of our energy discontent, battle lines are forming. Republicans argue that we’re short of energy and need more. Democrats argue that we should use what we have more efficiently. Well, who’s going to argue against efficiency? Nobody. Who’s going to argue against government promotion of energy efficiency? We will.
The main reason that energy is being used “inefficiently” is that government subsidizes its use. In California for instance, skyrocketing natural gas prices have increased electricity costs from 3 cents per kilowatt hour to 25-50 cents per kilowatt hour during peak demand periods. Because Californians are only paying a fraction of that, even after the recent rate hikes, they’re naturally using more electricity than they would had the government not stepped in with price controls.
Ironically, the environmentalists—the lobby crying loudest for increased conservation— are also among the most militant supporters of the price caps. They think they can get around the damage being done by the price caps by setting up countervailing subsidies. The favored method is to subsidize consumer purchases of energy efficient air conditioners, refrigerators and the like.
The problem is that the demand for the most energy intensive services, such as home cooling, is responsive to price. Look at what happened last year during the gasoline price spike. For the first time in a non-recession year, gasoline consumption went down in absolute terms. The widespread belief that consumers do not adjust their behavior in the teeth of increased energy costs is a politically convenient myth.
Now read this carefully: Energy efficient appliances reduce the costs of operation. This might not be a big deal when it comes to, say, the television set (we won’t watch more TV just because it costs a little less to turn on the set). But for appliances like air conditioners that make all the difference during peak demand periods, energy efficiency reduces the marginal cost of energy services and thus increases – not decreases – energy consumption. This is a well-known phenomenon called the “rebound effect.”
The same goes for automobile fuel efficiency. Environmentalists argue that increasing the miles per gallon of the cars we drive would save more energy than increased drilling could produce. But the data show that fuel consumption goes up whenever automobile fuel efficiency goes up. Nearly all the gains in fuel efficiency disappear once we account for the demonstrable increases in driving that such investments produce.
It’s not as if we haven’t tried such programs before. Utilities nationwide have spent about $20 billion since the mid-1980s to subsidize ratepayer investments in energy efficiency. Yet the data reveal that utilities heavily invested in such technologies experienced no reduction in electricity demand compared with utilities that largely avoided such subsidies.
There are several reasons beyond the “rebound effect” for this. First, most consumers who take advantage of these programs are free riders: They would have bought energy-efficient devices with or without handouts. Second, the high initial cost of many of these technologies (like the fabled $40 light bulb) means that those investments can take years to pay off even after the subsidy. Other investments are more attractive by comparison. Third, many of these “wonder-techs” are poor performers, trading off other consumer conveniences to eke out a little more efficiency at the margin. Having been burned before, people are leery of pitching thousands of dollars worth of appliances with years of life left in them to embrace unknown technologies that often have their own problems and only save money after years of operation—if ever.
What about the claim that, “If only everyone in America would keep their tires properly inflated, we would save googols of oil,” or, “If everyone were to carpool or take mass transit, we would save more energy than contained in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.” Maybe. But absent a million- member energy police, it’s not going to happen.
The truth is that people will conserve energy when they think the inconveniences of doing so are outweighed by the money saved. Reducing the marginal cost of energy consumption is the wrong approach. Government programs that put their faith in subsidized energy conservation were what helped give us the California mess. Only by letting prices do their job can energy conservation be achieved. Everything else is political smoke and mirrors.
In order to achieve sustainable development of the national economy it is necessary to implement energy efficiency policies. Therefore, it is necessary to seek investors among the foreign banks. Another way of financing energy efficiency projects is establishment of joint ventures, or third party financing, when an investor joins a project and finances energy efficiency activities. It is possible to arrange separate accounts when an investor is paid on profit from the saved energy.
To make sure we have plenty of energy in the future, it’s up to all of us to use energy wisely. We must all conserve energy and use it efficiently. It’s also up to those who will create the new energy technologies of the future. All energy sources have an impact on the environment. Concerns about the greenhouse effect and global warming, air pollution, and energy security have led to increasing interest and more development in renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, wave power and hydrogen. But we’ll need to continue to use fossil fuels and nuclear energy until new, cleaner technologies can replace them. The future is ours, but we need energy to get there.