Tuesday, October 17, 2006

It's Getting Hot in Herre -- Energy Efficiency Edition

The latest in Global Warming, Energy, and Enviro News

Excuse me for a another bullet-heavy post, but my brain is a little fried this afternoon, and I decided it's time to do a dump of some of the stories I've been saving up in my RSS reader. Also, with the focus of late being on the upcoming election (and making sure everyone is up to date on the latest Republican hypocrisy/legal entanglement/etc.), I've been paying less attention to climate/energy-related tidbits in the morning news round-up. At first I was going to do a massive post with the schload of saved links, but I'm going to break it up into bits during the rest of this week. First up, news bits on energy efficiency:

  • Wasteful television standby settings and the energy efficiency of computers and water heaters are to be targeted in a new legislative drive aimed at slicing €100bn a year from the European Union’s energy bill, in a move that could impose Europe’s green agenda on the world.

    Stringent new European Commission energy efficiency targets for items such as electrical appliances and cars could set new global standards, since all imports into the European market would have to comply.
    The proposed regulations – including extensions of existing rules – would impose European energy efficiency standards on any company worldwide seeking access to the EU’s 480m consumers, including US manufacturers. European standards and norms in the car sector and mobile telephony have already become accepted in many countries worldwide, to the annoyance of Washington, which believes the EU sets too many rules. [Financial Times]

  • European Tribune/Daily Kos blogger Jerome a Paris further notes:
    [I]f Brussels sets energy efficiency standards for computers sold in Europe, then these standards will apply worldwide, because they will be tougher than those in the US or anywhere else and manufacturers (large ones, anyway) are unlikely to split production between EU-compatible products and less regulated products.

    Multiply this over the range of products now under consideration, and you could see a massive imapct on the energy efficiency of many goods sold in the USA.

    This may sound good, but the risk of course, is that regulations set in Brussels are shaped in ways that European manufacturers are more familiar with, thus giving them an edge against manufacturers from other countries, including in these manufacturers' home markets.

    If the US would get on the bandwagon, we won't be wondering why our high-tech economy got completely out-sourced to the rest of the world 10 years from now.

  • In a post by Andrew Leonard at his How the World Works blog at Salon, he offers this counterpoint to the "gloomy report ... by the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) that declares growth in electricity demand will far outpace supply over the next decade" (downloadable PDF):
    But the Wall Street Journal and New York Times should have given a little more attention to a part of the report buried very near the end of its 134 pages. In a section reviewing electricity demand in the California-Mexico region, the report noted that if California carries through with its ambitious plans to encourage greater energy efficiency, "loads supplied through the bulk power system will not grow as fast as projected in this report."

    California has long led the nation in pushing energy efficiency, with the result that, as the California Energy Commission's Energy Action Plan II proudly boasts: "For the past 30 years, while per capita electricity consumption in the U.S. has increased by nearly 50 percent, California electricity use per capita has been approximately flat."

    So isn't it fair to ask: What if the entire nation followed California's lead? What impact would that have on the scary demand-growth projections in NERC's report?
    [R]eaders of the actual report will see that very little space, proportionally, is devoted to talking about energy efficiency. Much more prominence is given to discussions of how to overcome the "NIMBY-ism" that makes building new power lines ever more difficult. There's also a warm reference as to how Bush's new energy plan will make it easier to bring new nuclear power plants online.

    And nowhere is there a single word about the Bush's administration's pathetic record on energy efficiency.

    Despite Bush's repeated warnings about our dependence on Mideast oil, the DOE's initial draft of a 2007 budget recommended significant cuts in already existing energy efficiency programs. The administration had already failed to meet numerous deadlines for instituting new efficiency standards. When it finally got around to instituting its first new efficiency standard, in August, for utility pole power distribution transformers, the requirements were savaged as inexcusably weak.
    There is no easier or cheaper way to deal with our energy needs than to integrate greater energy efficiency into every aspect of our lives. It offers perhaps the clearest possible mandate for government intervention in the economy. Every state should be following California's example, as required by the federal government. And advisory groups like NERC should be leading the charge to make that happen.


At 7:45 AM, Blogger James Aach said...

Energy efficiency (conservation) should be the first, second and third priority of any energy plan, since the cheapest, safest, most enviornmentally benign energy is that which you don't use.

Even given this, there will be a need in the future for bulk energy plants (to replace the existing ones, if nothing else).

One of the difficulties when discussing our electric energy future is that most of our citizens have little understanding of our electric energy present. It is difficult to make large amounts of electricity - whether by fossil, nuclear or wind power or solar power.

The real world of nuclear energy, in particular, is little understood. I've worked in it over 20 years and have never seen a good profile of the people, the politics and the technology. So I wrote one, in the form of the thriller novel "Rad Decision", available at no cost to readers (who seem to like it, judging from their homepage comments) at
I discuss the pros and cons (plenty of both) and old favorites like TMI and Chernobyl.

"I'd like to see Rad Decision widely read." - Stewart Brand, internet pioneer and founder of "The Whole Earth Catalog".


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