Greener Technologies Save Planet and Money
Switching to sustainable sources of energy and introducing energy-efficient technologies will save governments money as well as create new jobs, said speakers at an AUB lecture held in West Hall on March 31.
Sponsored by the Issam Fares Institute’s Research and Policy Forum on Climate Change and Environment in the Arab World and the Political Studies and Public Administration Department, the lecture was titled “Combining Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energies: The Key to Sustainability.” PSPA Professor Danyel Reiche, who teaches a course on energy policy, introduced the two energy experts.
“Industrialized nations should decrease their energy consumption per capita, and developing countries should reduce loss, in order to allow more people access to electricity,” said Peter Hennicke, one of the most prominent researchers and publishers on the subject of environmental politics in Germany and Professor Emeritus at Bergische University of Wuppertal. “It is very important to decrease consumption rate increases by using more energy-efficient appliances,” he said.
Sustainable sources of energy are solar, wind, hydro, and geo-thermal energy, said Hennicke, noting that solar energy should take the lead during the next generation of energy consumption, while nuclear energy could be used in a transitional, helping phase.
Otherwise, if countries stick to their “business-as-usual” routine, the level of carbon dioxide emissions will double by 2050. In any case, oil production will peak within a year, he added.
For those who claim that the high cost of sustainable energy sources make them feasibly impractical, Hennicke predicted that by 2020, the cost of renewable energy sources would become less than that of fossil fuels, because of the dwindling supply of the latter and increased research spending on the former.
Hennicke noted that the world’s common vision should be to reach a 2000 watts per capita society, a vision which was originated by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich at the end of 1998. Consuming 2000 watts per capita per day is equivalent to the energy used up by a washer to wash a load of laundry or the energy consumption of about 10 computers, or two small-to-medium-sized air-conditioning units.
Currently, Western Europe consumes an average of around 6,000 watts per capita per day, while US consumption rates are a phenomenal 15,000 watts. Meanwhile, less developed countries, such as China and India consume only 1500 and 1000 watts, respectively, per capita per day. Bangladeshis use up only 300 watts.
By introducing energy-efficient technologies, governments could save up to 40 percent in expenditure, said Stefan Thomas, who leads the research group on energy, transport, and climate policy at the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy.
“If governments invest 24 billion euros per year from now until the year 2020 in energy efficiency, they will bring in annual savings that lead up to 29 billion euros in 2020,” he said. “Moreover, net employment growth will increase to 500,000 new jobs in 2020 and 800,000 new ones in 2030,” he added.