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Why Efficiency Can Save Almost all Losses and therfore Almost All Energy

Why Efficiency Can Save Almost all Losses and therfore Almost All Energy


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Published by Wolfgang Feist
Energy efficiency is the key to sustainable development. In the past efficiency was poor - energy was thought to be cheap. But almost all energy services can be delivered by as low an energy consumption as wanted. The only reason, why energy gets lost (and therefor is required) is: energy losses. And these losses can be reduced, as examples in the article show, by 50 and up to 90% in the most important energy flow chains in contemporary energy services.
Energy efficiency is the key to sustainable development. In the past efficiency was poor - energy was thought to be cheap. But almost all energy services can be delivered by as low an energy consumption as wanted. The only reason, why energy gets lost (and therefor is required) is: energy losses. And these losses can be reduced, as examples in the article show, by 50 and up to 90% in the most important energy flow chains in contemporary energy services.

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Published by: Wolfgang Feist on Jan 18, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Link to the Conference on Passive Houses

Energy Efficiency Reduces Energy Losses - the Energy Demand Approaches Zero

compiled by the Passive House Institute .

Energy efficiency does not require a compromise in comfort - not at all. Using higher efficiency makes it possible to increase comfort while reducing energy consumption. The passive house is a paradigm for this approach in the building sector. And the same principles can be utilised in other sectors as well: A car using just 1 or 2-Litre-gasoline per 100 km reduces consumption by 75 % (without loss in rider comfort), an LCD-monitor saves some 70 % of the electricity demand of CRT-monitors (electronic ink will do even better) and compact fluorescent bulbs save 75 to 80% of the electric power needed by incandescent bulbs (LED is already even better). Energy efficiency: Energy consumption is reduced by more innovative and intelligent products and by intelligent process integration. In most cases this needs some additional investment, but these are cost-effective as a rule. The products needed can be produced near the customer. This gives rise to employment and innovation. The Passive House is a perfect example for what can be done with really energy efficient concepts: The energy consumption of Passive Houses is just some 10% compared to the average of the building stock, but the comfort in the buildings is even better.
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This has been proven by monitoring of Hundreds of built Passive Houses. Is efficiency just the same as the technical "efficiency factor"? Not at all, efficiency is a far wider concept - read more in the next chapter.

The figure illustrates the basic principles of increased energy efficiency. It shows why energy efficiency can substitute energy: The service needed here is to keep coffee hot. That can be done by consuming energy (right hand, hot plate), or by not allowing for heat losses from the beginning (left hand, thermos flask). A very small heat loss is still there, of course - but it is negligible. Therefore the hot plate can be left out completely. The state of the art in marketable products for energy efficiency is underestimated regularly: A window used in passive houses saves some 70% of the heat loss of existing double pane glazings; a good additional insulation of an exterior wall can save almost 90%, and an efficient heat recovery unit 75 to 90% of the ventilation losses. Through such measures, the major part of the former energy consumption is no longer required. What small amount remains can be covered by several options. Even if conventional energy sources will be used, the situation will be fairly improved, because resources will last longer and environmental pollution is reduced.

Author: Dr. Wolfgang Feist updated: 2010-01-17 WF - thanks to Peter Cox for proof reading the first edition © Passive House Institute; unchanged copy is permitted, please give reference to the page http://www. passivhaustagung.de/Passive_House_E/energyefficiency.html

Each year in another town: The International Passive House Conference.

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Another example: Old CRT-monitor (left hand side) and energy efficient monitor (TFT); the electricity demand is reduced by 70% - while user comfort is increased. The computer sector could do much more on an energy efficinet design of their products. It is possible to have the full service of a PC incl. monitor and peripherials using only 5 to10 Watts continuous power. This is shown by the project "One Laptop Per Child".

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It is often mistakenly thought that "efficiency" is the synonomous with the efficiency factor. That is only true, if both quantities on the right hand side of the definition efficiency = benefit / effort have the dimension of "energy" or "power". But very often the benefit has nothing to do with energy. For example, the benefit can be a mileage (unit "miles"). The effort e.g. is the fuel needed (unit "gallons") and the efficiency of this service will be given by mileage / (fuel consumption) with the unit "miles/gallon". In Europe the inverse value effort coefficient = 1/efficiency is established: the specific fuel requirement in (liter fuel)/(100 km). Such values characterising the efficiency are not "efficiency factors" - they are values with a dimension. It is not possible to introduce an efficiency factor instead of these quantities. Looking at most services produced by the use of energy you will find, that they do not have the dimension of energy. And, there is no "minimum energy demanded" for those services on physical reasons. The belief in the contrary is widely spread, too - but not valid. The "minimum energy" in most cases is zero (or, in same cases, an extremely small value near to zero). That sound like an academic question? No, not at all. This is a key insight.
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The figure illustrates that increased efficiency is more than just increasing the efficiency factor. The efficiency factor of the compressor (right hand side) is increased. However - far more important is the increased efficiency by the better insulation of the cabinet. That significantly changes the quotient (cooled space)/"cooling energy". "Cooling energy" is not a physical quantity in a strict sense: it is thermal energy to be removed.

Another example: Efficiency in transportation. There are vehicles, consuming different amounts of fuel for the same service (carrying 1 person for a distance of 100 km): 12 Ltrs/100 pers.km (an old car) (in the US maybe even a new one, sorry fellows: you should really go do something to change that) 7 Ltrs/100 pers.km (an average new car in Germany; not very good as well) 3 Ltrs/100 pers.km (a quite efficient new car; really, one shouldn't build less efficient ones for everyday use) 1 Liter/100 pers.km (prototype-VW-car or "hypercar" or "loremo") 0 Liter/100 pers.km (a vehicle moving frictionsless using a path on a brachistochrone) Path on a brachistochron? See the figure. That was already known by Galilei: It is the fastest path from A to B without energy requirement in a homogeneous gravitational field. Want to know more about this? Download the article "Science, culture, passive house". Not only brachistochron paths are explained there, but the meaning of "exergy" and "anergy" and why in daily life Galilei is still not established againts Aristotle completely.
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Let us look at an example: The efficiency factors of heating boilers can not be increased to more than 100% (law of energy conservation) and contemporary values already are in the range of 90%. But: the efficiency of the total service "heating" (to be measured by the area heated with a given amount of fuel) can be increased almost without any limit - by better insulation and heat recovery. If you only look at the efficiency factor, there will not be a noteworthy potential for energy saving for heating. But if we have a broader look at the service and realise, that the so called "heating demand" can be reduced to values near to zero (by insulation and heat recovery), we will understand that there is a huge potential for better efficiency. This has been demonstrated by the multitude of Passive Houses which have already been built and are occupied. But it is not only true for heating, it is quite similar with many other applications of energy: At the end of the supply chain, the final use is made out of the energy supplied. At this end there are the major potentials for an increased efficiency: And it is not a few percents which can be saved; it is the major part - in most cases. Examples:

Heat storage can have an increased insulation; this will reduce the energy needed to hold the temperature level (the principle of the thermos-flask). The same holds for heat distribution pipes (especially domestic hot water and circulation pipes). Heat can be recovered from hot waste water.

Conclusion: To guaranty the most services, one does not need any energy; or, at least, it will be sufficient to use an extremely small amount - if only losses are reduced consequently. Increased energy efficiency therefore can substitute energy, which is required up to now, almost completely. "Energy efficiency" is almost like a new energy source - but only almost, because using energy efficiency is far better. Energy efficiency is clean, inexhaustible and free of costs during use. Energy efficiency can be made available everywhere. And: Energy efficiency can be produced by ourselves in Europe (and at any other place, too), it is integrated in smart products from the beginning - for the advantage of the users (lower running costs and increased comfort), for the advantage of the manufacturers (higher quality and therefore higher added value), for the advantage of the national economy (employment) and for the advantage of the of the environment (mitigation of global warming). There are only winners - even the suppliers of conventional energy are winners, looking at an adequate time horizon: E.g. the supply of oil will last for more decades and with lower risks, if the efficiency of using energy is increased. A thorough analysis of all services produced with the input of energy reveals: From a physical point of view energy is used predominantly to maintain an unstable situation. But these can be regularly transformed by smart measures into near equilibrium conditions. To realise this, only a very small amount of energy is required. Examples:

Insulation, efficient against heat losses, is efficient against "cold losses" as well (see the example on left hand side). Even looking at industrial processes energy can be used far more efficiently, e.g. by heat regeneration. An example is a "counter direction production line": finished baked goods (hot!) are transported on a production line, while the cold, unbaked parts come along in counterflow at another line. Increased efficiency in the use of materials and recycling of energy intensive materials will reduce the energy requirement, too.

Comfortable "heated" living space: unstable situation: "higher indoor temperature" compared to "cold outdoor environment". Smart measure: reduction of heat losses. Practise: Passive House. Comfortable "air conditioned" living space: unstable situation: "cool indoor temperature / lower humidity" compared to "hot environment / high humidity". Smart measure: reduction of heat gains, heat recovery and humidity recovery. Practise: Passive House with a compact ventilation system. Cooling chain:

Author: Dr. Wolfgang Feist updated: 2010-01-17 WF - thanks to Dylan Lamar for proof reading © Passive House Institute; unchanged copy is permitted, please give reference to http://www.passivhaustagung.de/Passive_House_E/ energyefficiency.html

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unstable situation: "cool temperature in the cooling chamber" compared to the "hot environment". Smart measure: insulation. Practise: vacuum insulated cooling chambers. Transportation: unstable situation: "not frictionless movement". Smart measure: reduction of friction; recovery of braking energy. Practise: Hypercar.

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