What to do with #2: Energy

 

August 26, 2013

Energy is a vital aspect for development and our current lives and lifestyles. In fact, everything is based on it: from the clothes we wear, to the bottles we drink from: everything is made by energy. More precisely, almost everything is made by oil. We are so depending on that non-renewable energy source, it seems as if we are addicted to it. However, we are running out of this non-renewable resource and it contributes to air pollution and climate change. Furthermore, it has a geopolitical impact in the sense that some argue that many wars (e.g. in the middle – east) are based upon the oil supplies of these countries.

Therefore, other sources of energy are necessary to tackle these issues such as solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, biogas, and (micro) hydro power. However, these kinds of energy are not always as easy to get to or as cheap as oil. However, more and more countries focus on renewable energy. For instance, Germany and Spain are big users of solar energy, the UK and Denmark use wind energy, and the Netherlands is good in waste management and recycling while also using the waste for energy generation[1]. Indeed, the Netherlands is the biggest importer of waste in Europe, with around one million ton of waste being imported from England, Ireland and Italy per year. Waste companies in the Netherlands earn millions because of it[2]. Although off course one can criticize issues such as the large amounts of land being occupied by waste even though the Netherlands is already small, the motivation of such companies behind it, and the argument that waste management should be executed in the countries themselves, it is good news that such an amount of waste is also being used for energy generation (more on ‘Waste’ see What to do with #1: Waste and Poo). But how can we stimulate the use of renewable energy sources more?

First, subsidies on oil will have to be decreased since this influences the market and the competition for renewable energy sources negatively. This decrease has to be done step by step since otherwise the whole market will collapse due to the higher costs of oil and (related) products. Second, governments can use the available money from the oil subsidies to subsidize and support the renewable energy market and supply. Third, the real prices of renewable energy and oil have to be calculated. Calculating the real total costs, including the negative (environmental and social), will result in significant lower costs of renewable energy and higher costs of oil. A Dutch organization called ‘True Price’ calculates these external costs. And fourth, the carbon market should be used wisely and smart to stimulate low carbon (renewable energy) products and services (more on ‘the carbon market’ see Post-Kyoto).

 

Solar_and_Wind.jpeg

Source:www.northenergysystems.com


And what can you do to influence the market and support the push from the bottom up towards clean, renewable, and affordable energy?

  1. Reduce energy
    1. Switch it off: switch your lights and electricity off when not in use.
    2. Use LED lights and energy saving meters to measure your energy usage and thus, to reduce there were possible.
    3. Keep the heat inside: heat up your house in the winter up to a maximum of 21 degrees and, depending on when your house was built and the outside temperature, put it lower than the ‘day’ temperature at night or when away from home. For instance, in houses which were built from 1994 and up it is best to lower the heat two to four degrees Celsius when not at home or when sleeping. If the heat goes down three degrees, it will reduce your gas usage around 10% per year. But when it is freezing outside, it is best to put the heat only one or two degrees lower. Lower range leads to that the house needs to be heated up again which costs more energy than keeping the heat in a two to four degrees lower radius[3].
    4. Also, insulate your house and use double glass windows (or possibly affordable in the future: solar power windows) whenever possible[4].
    5. Keep yourself warm: Put some extra clothes on instead of turning up the heat.
    6. Try not to use any air-conditioning. And if you do, use it only when really necessary.
    7. Shower 5 minutes: try not to shower too hot and long. Maximum 5 minutes is sufficient and that is usually longer than you think.
  2. Use renewable energy
    1. Put solar panels on your roof.
    2. Join forces 4 RE: collaborate with your neighborhood on renewable energy (solar, wind, biogas) to not only have the most impact, but also to increase energy efficiency and costs (e.g.: connect with each other through a neighborhood grid and buy solar panels, a windmill or biogas installation together).
    3. Buy appliances which are based on renewable energy  such as solar mobile phone chargers, solar lamps, etc.
  3. Pursuade your community / country to do more for renewable energy.
  4. Share your ideas here if you have them.

 

 


[1] Source: www.waste-management-world.com/articles/print/volume-11/issue-1/features/dutch-successes.html

[2] Source: www.volkskrant.nl/vk/nl/2680/Economie/article/detail/3498483/2013/08/26/Nederland-grootste-vuilnisimporteur-in-de-EU.dhtml

[3] Source: www.milieucentraal.nl

[4] Source: www.cleantechnica.com/2013/05/17/solar-power-generating-windows-fast-approaching-commercial-production

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