Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The truth about energy saving. Is it really so pointless?

From the inbox:

Cambridge University physicist, David MacKay, in a passionate, personal analysis of the energy crisis in the UK, in which he comes to some surprising conclusions about the way forward. The film is based on his new book ‘Sustainable Energy – without the hot air’, in which Prof MacKay has crunched the numbers, comparing renewables such as wind, wave, tide, and solar, and nuclear power with our current consumption of fossil fuels like coal, gas and oil.

A few interesting stats:

All the energy saved in switching off your charger for one day is used up in one second of car-driving. The energy saved in switching off the charger for one year is equal to the energy in a single hot bath.

To provide one quarter of our current energy consumption by growing energy crops would require 75% of Britain to be covered with biomass plantations. To provide 4% of our current energy consumption from wave power would require 500 km of Atlantic coastline to be completely filled with wave farms.

If you fly to Cape Town and back once per year, the energy you use in that trip is nearly as big as the energy used by driving an average car 50 km per day, every day, all year.

Driving an average car 50 km per day uses 40 kWh per day. Covering 10% of the country with wind farms would yield 20 kWh per day per person on average.

MacKay takes a hard look at what we need to do to overcome our fossil fuel addiction: “There’s no shortage of advice on how to ‘make a difference,’ but the public is confused, uncertain whether these schemes are fixes or figleaves. Numbers are chosen to impress, to score points in arguments, rather than to inform. In contrast, my aim here is to present honest, factual numbers in such a way that the numbers are comprehensible, comparable, and memorable. The numbers are made accessible by expressing them all in everyday personal units.”

For more information – go to David MacKay’s website: