The next generation of Energy Efficiency

by Ginosar  

The Rosenfeld Symposium

The next generation of Energy Efficiency

A few days ago [3/9/10] I attended an energy efficiency conference at UC Davis honoring the champion of California energy conservation and efficiency, Dr. Art Rosenfeld.

The conference was a tribute to his decades of dedicated work in this field, culminating with two terms as Commissioner on the California Energy Commission. He just retired from this post.

Most of the 400 attendees worked with the commissioner on some aspects of efficiency and conservation. I had the opportunity to discuss with him at length energy efficiency options and he was gracious to send me several of his PowerPoint presentations that he made in India and China last year.

With his permission I sent these presentations to staff of energy and environmental committees in Congress.

I would like to summarize some of the points some speakers made that seems worth attention:

Some of the methods Dr. Rosenfeld used to develop better efficiency measures were his penetrating questions: Why are we doing things the way we do? How can we do them better? What are the implications on a wider scale? And he was persistent. Dr. Rosenfeld is supposed to have said: "The price of efficiency is eternal nagging..."

Anne Smith, Sempra Utilities: Energy Efficiency from the California Perspective.

Natural gas use in homes in southern California is down 40% in 30 years. [I wonder how much of it is due to different distribution of individual homes vs. apartments. Partial statistics are not so useful to draw conclusions from.]

A mind shift for utilities: California pioneering decoupling of sales of energy from utility profit was instrumental in focusing more attention on energy reduction. CA is spending $3B in 2 years to increase efficiency.

The PUC published a hundred page plan to increase efficiency: California long term energy efficiency strategic plan. Sub titled: Achieving Maximum Energy Savings in California for 2009 and beyond.

One of the plan goals is to achieve zero energy in new residential units by 2020, commercial properties by 2030.

[I think it is a mistaken goal. Total reduction of carbon footprint should be the goal and cost-effectiveness must be considered too. We need to look at the total issue. When some one build the most energy efficient home in the suburbs but drive to her his job five times a week her total carbon foot print is much larger that a person living in the city and walk to work. Second, generating electricity on site, only silicon PV is available now, is very expensive [and would not do well commercially without substantial subsidies] and has hidden costs not taken into account- the energy payback is some 5 to 7 years, and many of the PV panels are made in Germany and China by coal power plants with even longer carbon payback. Hopefully completely new, low cost solar technology would be in production by then, but that is another issue. Doing the maximum energy conservation and ALSO MAXIMUM APPLIANCE EFFICIENCY, including all the home electronics, is a more practical, achievable goal.

The appealing title: "zero energy homes" is a political slogan and not one to cut our total GHG.]

When we are talking about new approaches, she said: "If the consumer does not accept it- it is not worth it." [But the consumer should accept it without substantial subsidies that distort the market too much.]

"It is tough to do better than we are already doing in CA since we are so good already."

[Although CA achieved lower per capita electricity consumptions than the nation, my own observation and studies indicate that we could have cut our energy use in buildings much further. It was evident three decades ago when I directed the Solar office at the California Energy Commission. Some 80% of the reduction was due to building conservation, 20% at most was due to potential passive solar measures.]

[We could have achieved much higher conservation/efficiency, but the building industry, that carries a lot of political weight especially in CA, did its best to cut down conservation measures to reduce the cost of the construction. A small increase in construction cost, much lower than adding PV, would have reduced the total energy use further. The industry does not care that homeowners will pay larger energy bills over many years; it does not affect the sale since most people are not aware of the total cost of housing.

The same for commercial properties; the builder aim is to reduce cost per square foot; the tenets are paying the energy costs. It is the responsibility of decision makers to weigh society needs re. GW on a much higher scale than builder's small increase in profit.]

Ashok Gadgil, LBNL, Energy Efficiency from the Developing World Perspective:

We need to use Human Development Index HDI, when we deal with energy.

HDI should include:

1. Economic wellbeing

2. Life expectancy- health, health care, etc.

3. Literacy and education.

All of the above relate to electricity consumption. The US and Australia are the biggest per capita users, 9200 kWh/yr. Japan and England 7500 kWh. The US emitting 20 Tons of CO2 per person per year. India just 1.5 ton. Ad it is clear that the HDI is very low in India and other low electricity users.

Two billion people cook with solid fuels [wood and charcoal] which are low efficiency and highly polluting, both locally-the users themselves- and adding CO2 globally. Sub Sahara is especially noted to do so. Replacing these cookers with high efficiency, low cost kerosene stoves, sometimes may be solar cookers, would be a large improvement in all categories, and reduce their cost over time.

[It is clear that the underdeveloped countries will increase their energy consumption to elevate their standard of living, or their HDI, for their rapidly increasing populations.]

The above legitimate increase in energy demand by the underdeveloped world would be the main source of future increase of global GHG.

This rapid increase would overshadow all emissions by all developed countries, including the US. [mg]

Notes in [  ] are mine.

Part two of notes will follow.


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