In 1989, Amory Lovins noticed a typo in a report that turned Megawatt into Negawatt. It was so good that he ran with it, turning it into the unit of energy saved through conservation or efficiency. Now the Negawatt is back, as energy efficiency becomes all the rage again. In Europe, researchers are calling efficiency a “new fuel that by 2030 will be more important than oil,” writes the Climate News Network. Efficiency has been relatively low profile because it isn’t sexy like solar panels, which have become cheaper every year. In the same period, efficiency has not become significantly cheaper, and it’s not nearly as impressive a symbol. But there’s a problem with energy from renewables: the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow and there’s no good way to store their power. A new study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEE), also shows that Negawatts are cheaper; as little as 4.5 cents kilowatts per hour. So if you want to wean a utility off fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions, it’s less costly for the company to pay customers to get efficient than it is to build new solar or wind capacity. There’s another big benefit from efficiency: it reduces peak demand and the pressures on the power industry that might lead to what’s been called a “death spiral” for power utilities. Those companies have to maintain the grid and power plants for peak demand and cloudy days, all while selling far less energy when the sun is shining.
Environment Guru 30th March 2016 read more »