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Energy Conservation: Our Greatest Resource, Part 1


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Energy flow

 

We are at the end of the age of abundant, cheap fossil fuels and are ill prepared for the future. We complain about rising energy costs rather than doing something about it. I lived through the Oil Crisis of 1973 and was amazed at how we Americans rose to the occasion, changed our views on energy consumption, and brought OPEC to its knees in just a few short years.  We are approaching the 40 year anniversary of the Oil Crisis and need to prepare for the next.

The Energy Flow Diagram to the left was developed by Energy Information Administration. It shows, among many other details, that we waste more energy than we use. I will discuss it later in the series, but for the time being I will use it as the "logo" for this series and as a reminder that we can do much better.

This series will present an overview of the problems we face and approaches we can take to address our energy future.  I will focus on energy conservation as I contend that this is the low hanging fruit, our best opportunity to address rising energy costs in the short term.  Americans waste most of energy we consume and much of this waste can be avoided or reclaimed.  Instead of sending our energy dollars to the Middle East we should invest it domestically creating jobs, improving our efficiency, and creating a sustainable future. 

Airplane

 

Golden car

 

All your oil dollars are not wasted, however.  With the Saudi’s purchase of GE Plastics (Sabic) and the construction of the United Arab Emirates owned Global Foundries, many Capital District residents now work for Middle Eastern interests instead of just sending them money with each fill up.  At least they are bright enough to realize that their oil won’t last forever.

I grew up in rural Western NY and have lived in Troy for over 40 years in a house that is over 110 years old.  My education includes degrees in physics and business.  I am the Technical Director for Automated Dynamics in Schenectady specializing in advanced composite materials.  Advanced technology and light weight materials are just some of many approaches we can employ to conserve dwindling resources.  There are many simple, practical approaches we can take to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and improving our economy.

My approach is based on science and backed by data.  I will start by building a case for conservation by showing that all energy consumption has associated costs (monetary as well as hidden).  Then I will outline the problem in broad strokes starting from a worldwide perspective, outlining the energy issues facing the US, and finally focusing on how we can address our energy future at a local and personal level. 

A general outline of this presentation is given below.      

  • The Cost of Energy Consumption:  A Case for Conservation
  • Comparison of World/US Energy Consumption
  • US Energy Consumption
  • Theoretical Efficiency
  • Actual Efficiency
  • Realistic Goals
  • Resources
  • Summary


Note: This series is based on a presentation I have given. I welcome opportunities to deliver it personally to groups of 20 or more. If your group is interested, please contact me through the Member email.


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