Conservation conversation

Did you know about the concerted energy saving challenge put to the British public that took place between 6pm yesterday and 6pm today? You’re not alone apparently. There are a lot of big names supporting E-day but it would seem that it has been an epic fail. Energy consumption was actually up. Admittedly by only 0.1% but up all the same. Not the result that was hoped for I expect.

I think that this was always going to happen. The people who would have done something for this will already be doing all they can anyway. The introduction of smart metering would be a start and now that the National Grid have been fined for holding this back we’ll hopefully see more installed. Showing people how much they are spending at any one time will have an almost immediate effect. Even better would be allowing them to sell any excess that they generate themselves back.

A bigger push to target larger business consumers would also have been a better way to make an impact. The kind of businesses that leave lights and electrical equipment switched on all night. The kind of businesses that don’t encourage bike to work schemes, public transport or car pooling. High street stores that have open door policies and enforce them in Winter.

Just as software starts to move to a centralised system, energy production is beginning to do just the opposite. For starters, most electricity is produced in power stations at around an average of 45% efficiency. A cogeneration system attains double this. Transmitting electricity long distances (over the National Grid here in the UK) is also a waste of power. Using both of these techniques together has the potential to save substantial amounts of power.

Decentralised energy is already delivering results in other countries. For example, the entire city of Rotterdam runs on decentralised energy as does over 50% of Denmark. Other major cities across Europe such as Malmo, Copenhagen and Helsinki have all adopted this on a large scale and the Mayor of London has started working towards creating a decentralised energy network.

From using LED light bulbs to switching to other household technologies that have improved in efficiency over the past several years (thanks, in part, to the One Watt Initiative) massive inroads can be made to cutting our energy needs to a bare minimum.

The simple fact is that these new technologies just doesn’t come cheap at the moment and that is the real stumbling block.

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