What (watt) we need to know to reduce carbon emissions
The largest contributor to mercury in our oceans is coal fired power stations. The acidity of our oceans is also seriously and systemically affected by CO2 emissions from the same source. The entire food chain of sea creatures is therefore affected ultimately in the fish we eat, which contain increasing unsafe levels of mercury. Almost without exception, everything we hear and read about global warming or carbon emission is problem centred as if to convince us it really is a problem. Rarely do we hear or read anything that would suggest a plan to address the issue. The media promote government as the only means of controlling carbon emissions, or CO2, probably because they own or control power generation, the major source of fossil fuel burning that creates carbon emissions.
The debate has mainly centred upon the degree of reduction, hence 10% or 20% within 10 years but does nothing to inform us the means by which these reductions might be achieved. Carbon trading muted as a government “solution” offers industry a licence to emit CO2 by trading or offsetting their emissions with those who don’t. Within this system government collects license fees.
Clean coal suggests the major offender is getting its act together except there is no such thing as “clean coal”. Scientists refer to this as “geo-sequestration” which is a fancy name for pumping the pollutant gas emissions underground instead of releasing them into the atmosphere. This is untried and unproven science, so let’s not be misinformed there is any such thing as “clean coal”. Coal is a dirty fuel. Does anyone really believe the gas will simply stay underground?
Without cost (in fact a cost saving) the domestic consumer could reduce individual carbon emissions between 20% and 50% overnight! This is not to postulate “global warming” is singularly man’s responsibility but it can no longer be ignored, any more than the effect it is having upon the world can be denied. Accordingly the focus of this book is upon reducing carbon emissions associated with burning fossil fuels in power generation for the domestic consumer.
Public opinion always applauds something that sounds good, and the Kyoto Protocol was such an example. However it was not a plan but a piece of paper upon which governments committed to a reduction within a given period of time. It had no effect because it was not a practical plan, it was a negotiated outcome. Because the debate has always focused upon carbon emissions from power generation, the consumer could be excused for believing it’s a political or corporate problem to which there is only a political or corporate solution. However electricity generation is directly attributable to the consumer, so collectively we each contribute to the cumulative total that needs to be generated. It’s a basic supply and demand equation. A more realistic strategy is found in multiple initiatives through the consumer that would immediately have a cumulative effect. So, what (watt) can we do?
To be misinformed is to contribute to the problem; to be informed is the subject of this booklet in order that we can effectively contribute to the solution.
There are always two sides to any equation (2 x 2 = 4). The consumer creates the demand and power stations try to balance it with supply. Accordingly if we can lessen our usage we can effectively contribute to reducing the demand. The emphasis in this book is upon the domestic consumer, which means you and me. It’s a different ball game for industry and commerce, except they also have much to contribute.
Its not only the carbon emissions in burning the stuff at the power stations, but also the carbon emissions in getting it out of the ground and transporting it to the places we burn it! Coal mining machinery also burns fossil fuel.
The amount of power we consume is measured in watts, which is the product of amps and volts. Most of the domestic appliances we use are so large they are rated in thousands of watts, abbreviated kW. Dependent upon how long these appliances are connected, aggregate into total consumption. Hence our electric meter registers in kWhrs (thousands of watt hours).
To give visual impact to each electrical appliance’s consumption I have compared an equivalent number of electric light globes. For example to boil an electric kettle typically rated 2.4kW is the same as having forty – 60 watt electric light globes all on at the same time. Comment also points toward more economic use of these appliances so as to reduce carbon emissions. At the end is some mathematics for those who might like to know how these collectively account for what we consume when we plug something into a wall socket. The numbers are alarming and collectively measure MWhrs, millions of watt hours.
We need to know what a watt is, and how it affects our consumption of this otherwise invisible resource called electricity. We also need to know what to do if we are to contribute toward reducing the emission of carbon gases consequent to burning fossil fuels. I also refer to “efficiency” and it’s not only the efficiency of each appliance but the circumstances in which we use the appliance.
Furthermore power generation and distribution is an extremely inefficient system since a typical coal fired power station is only 33% efficient. This means that of all the energy consumed in generation and distribution 66% is wasted or lost through inefficiency and heat losses! There is something we can do, and the details are described in the booklet “What (watt) we need to know to reduce carbon emissions”.
Sid Eavis Author.