Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Energy Efficiency Could Prevent Gas Supply Problems

The Government must prioritise reducing electricity consumption
and making homes and offices more energy efficient in response to
concerns about the security of our future gas supply, Friends of
the Earth said today (Wednesday 4th January). Housing could be
made at least 60 per cent more efficient, the group said, reducing
domestic energy bills and crucially cutting greenhouse gas
emissions, a major cause of climate change.


The impacts of climate change are already being felt with the Met
Office revealing last month that the northern hemisphere was
experiencing its warmest ever year in 2005. The 10 warmest years
on record have all occurred in the last 11 years [1].


The environmental campaign group said that much of the UK's
electricity and heat could come from clean and safe renewable
sources, combined with more efficient use of scarce fossil fuels.


The group highlighted three key steps which could reduce the UK's
long-term dependence on fossil fuels:


Saving electricity by switching all new light bulbs to energy
efficient compact fluorescent lightbulbs, and in future to the new
LED bulbs; reducing "stand-by" losses on appliances and promoting
a switch to more energy efficient motors in industry could cut
electricity demand by almost 10 per cent over the next 10-15 years
. These measures combined could save roughly the equivalent
output of 5 nuclear power stations (lightbulbs only = 1 nuclear
power station) [2].



Better insulation in the home and in work places could save
massive amounts of energy. New buildings should be built to
higher energy efficiency standards and more investment should be
made in home energy efficiency programmes. The Environmental
Change Institute at Oxford University has suggested that the UK's
housing stock could be made 60 per cent more efficient while
according to the Carbon Trust, UK business wastes £1 billion a
year in lost energy [3].

Generating electricity and heat from renewable energy sources,
including micro-generation in houses and offices, tidal lagoons,
wave and tidal power, on-shore and off-shore wind power, and the
use of biomass could contribute 30 per cent of our electricity by
2020.




In addition, using more efficient gas-fired combined heat and
power plants could be 40-50 per cent more efficient than
conventional power plants.


The campaign group added that current supply problems must not be
used as an excuse to justify uneconomic and polluting nuclear
power.


Friends of the Earth's Senior Energy Expert Germana Canzi said:



"The UK wastes a terrible amount of energy. Dwindling supplies of
fossil fuels and the urgent need to tackle climate change mean
that we must change our wasteful ways. If the Government is
serious about fighting climate change and ensuring energy security
then it must urgently prioritise saving energy and generating
electricity and heat from clean and safe renewable sources. It is
time for a shift to the modern energy age"


Friends of the Earth is calling on the Government to commit to
cutting carbon dioxide emissions - the main greenhouse gas - by
around three per cent every year. It is backing a Climate Change
Bill with The Big Ask Campaign (www.thebigask.com[1]). Despite
the growing evidence of the impacts of climate change, UK
emissions of carbon dioxide have increased since 1997 and rising
gas prices this winter may lead to a further increase in emissions
as more coal is burnt.


NOTES TO EDITORS

[1] http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/pressoffice/2005/pr20051
215.html[2]

[2] See:
www.eurocopper.org/eci/archives/docs/PK%20EN%20Motor%20Challen
ge122003.pdf[3]

[3] See Environmental Change Institute:
http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/pdfdownload/energy/40house/chapter04.p
df[4]

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