Halloween 2021: Spooky Facts About Energy Inefficiency

by | Oct 28, 2021 | Blog

A blood moon in the red night sky.

Summary

  • Much of the energy produced is wasted—resulting in more expensive power, putting a strain on an already overworked power grid, and contributing to climate change. The need to improve enhanced energy efficiency is one of the most urgent and important topics across governments, industries, and private households today.
  • Energy and environmental problems are closely linked as it is nearly impossible to produce, transport, or consume energy without some negative environmental impact. The green challenges linked directly with energy production and consumption include climate change, solid waste disposal, water pollution, air pollution, and thermal pollution.
  • Energy demands are projected to grow, putting mounting pressure on energy imports, energy subsidies, government transfers, and guarantees to state-owned utilities. This places a substantial financial burden on governments which will likely lead to the phasing out of energy subsidies and the introduction of new energy and environmental taxes to help reduce energy demand.
  • Vulnerable populations can significantly benefit from improved energy accessibility, safety, and affordability. Poor or marginalized societies are more likely to experience the adverse effects of energy decisions as they have reduced scope for adaptation. When compared to wealthier societies, they lack negotiating power.

Introduction

With Halloween just around the corner, it welcomes a time for festivities and colder weather for much of us across the globe. Energy consumption can go up during these periods, so we need to be mindful when using valuable power—both as private residents of our respective countries and the running of industries.

The urgent need to improve enhanced energy efficiency is one of the most important topics across governments, industries, and private households today. The Global Energy Assessment of 2016  revealed that a lot of the energy produced is wasted. This is a massive problem as not only does it result in more expensive power, it puts a strain on an already overworked power grid and contributes to climate change.

From mining to transport, and combustion to waste disposal, the lifecycle of fossil fuel production damages the environment and inflicts a significant toll on population health and the economic stability of entire nations. This article explores some of the frightening impacts energy inefficiency has on the planet, global economies, and society.

Haunting Impacts of Energy Production and Use on the Planet

The environmental impacts of energy use on the planet and humans can take place anywhere during the life cycle of the energy source.

Energy and environmental problems are closely linked—it is almost impossible to produce, transport, or consume energy without some environmental impact. The ecological challenges directly associated with energy production and consumption include climate change, solid waste disposal, water pollution, air pollution, and thermal pollution.

The primary cause of urban air pollution is the emission of air pollutants from fossil fuel combustion. The burning of fossil fuels for power creation is also the main contributor to the emission of greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide (CO2) makes up the bulk of greenhouse gas emissions from the global electricity sector, but there are also smaller amounts of nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4) which are also emitted.

Various water pollution problems are also connected with energy usage. One of the most well-known problems is oil spills. There is some possibility of spilling oil either in water or on land for all petroleum-handling operations. However, on a positive note, the volume of oil lost to the environment from tanker spills during 2020 was approximately 1,000 tonnes—the lowest annual figure recorded in the last five decades.

Coal mining is also responsible for polluting waters as changes in groundwater flow generated by mining operations frequently bring otherwise unpolluted waters into direct contact with certain mineral materials. These harmful mineral materials are leached from the soil and make an acid mine drainage. Acid mine drainage is the creation and movement of highly acidic water abundant in heavy metals. Acidic waters form due to the chemical reaction of surface water (like rainwater, pond water, and snowmelt) and shallow subsurface water with rocks that contain sulphur-bearing minerals—resulting in sulfuric acid.

The environmental impacts of energy use on the planet and humans can occur anywhere during the energy source’s life cycle. The effects start with the extraction of the resource, followed by the source’s processing, purification, or manufacture. There is then the transportation to the place where it will be generated into energy and ends with the disposal of waste produced during use.

Frightening Effects Energy Inefficiency Has For Global Economies

The projected increase in energy consumption and pollution are issues that will need to be tackled through sustainable development and finance.

Illustration of the global economy going up and down.

Energy plays an essential part of any economy because it represents a production input in countless industries and sectors and affects sustainable development. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has reported that in 2050, the world economy will be considerably more significant than it is today and energy consumption will increase by 80%. Energy consumption in the industrial sector and buildings in fast-growing developing countries are responsible for three-quarters of the rising energy demand.

As the energy demand grows, there will also be increased pressure on energy imports, energy subsidies, government transfers, and guarantees to state-owned utilities. This will place an immense fiscal burden on governments. Moreover, it will likely lead governments to phase out energy subsidies and introduce new energy and environmental taxes to reduce energy demand—which could provoke social tensions and adversely impact the most vulnerable and poor.

The concerns over energy security have led to an increase in domestic resource exploitation, including fossil fuels. For example, some governments have approved new coal power plans. These nonrenewable developments will have significant harmful impacts both locally and globally.

The use of energy has various effects on the environment, economies, and society, so there is a necessity for energy-saving and improved energy efficiency. It is well recognized that greenhouse gas emissions (primarily CO2) must be decreased to help reduce global warming and climate change. The projected increase in energy consumption and pollution are issues that will need to be tackled through sustainable development and finance.

There is an urgent requirement for sustainable development—development that meets the needs of today’s generation while not jeopardizing the needs of future generations. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are starting to be created to protect environmental, economic, and social concerns. Furthermore, sustainable finance promotes sustainable development and strengthens the SDGs, incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) measures into investments to direct them towards sustainable economic activities.

Horrific Consequences of Energy Wastage on Society

The processes for energy extraction, transportation, and use can have substantial negative consequences to a society’s health, environment, and economy.

Energy can have both positive and negative impacts on society. It is hugely beneficial for those who have access to abundant, affordable, secure, safe, and clean energy—but this comes at a cost. The processes for energy extraction, transportation, and use can have substantial negative consequences on society’s health, environment, and economy. Additionally, having to rely on imported energy can create vulnerabilities in national security.

The impacts energy decisions will have on people are not equal. For example, poor or marginalized societies are more likely to experience the adverse effects of energy decisions. This is because they have reduced scope for adaptation and they lack negotiating power compared to wealthier societies. Vulnerable populations can significantly benefit from improvements in energy accessibility, safety, and affordability.

The fundamental problem is that the world is still greatly reliant on the limited amount of fossil fuel available. As energy demand increases and the fossil fuel supply becomes scarce, the problem becomes more severe—potentially leading to adverse economic and social consequences. The large-scale transition away from fossil energy and the move to renewable sources of power presents a significant challenge for society but one which is much needed.

Renewable energy sources are seen as one of the best ways to reduce pollution, increase economies, provide energy security, and create job opportunities. In addition, the switch to renewable sources, such as solar power, will help reduce poverty as most poor people rely on natural resources. It is estimated that after 2050, 50% of the global energy supply will be created via renewable energy resources. The scope of renewable energy sources is 140 times the global annual energy consumption.

The Takeaway

For the industries and countries more energy-intensive than others, increasing energy efficiency should be an absolute priority over the coming years. A crucial step towards this achievement will be to continue identifying and monitoring the top industries with the highest energy wastage and outline the areas where this wastage occurs. The change will then be able to take place.

There are many ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity generation, transmission, and distribution. For example, introducing higher implementation of renewable energy increased end-use energy efficiency and improved carbon capture and sequestration operations. But, of course, these will all take time to execute. Still, with nations worldwide working together, future Halloweens may be less scary from an environmental, economic, and social standpoint when energy is concerned.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What does energy efficiency mean?

Energy efficiency is the method of measuring the energy expenditure needed to achieve a specific benefit, such as warming a room during the winter or lighting up the roads. Energy is used to gain a particular advantage. The lower the losses in power to accomplish a specific purpose, the higher the degree of energy efficiency.

 

Why does energy efficiency need to be improved?

Due to energy demands increasing worldwide, the energy market is under pressure, causing prices to rise. In addition, instabilities in many exporting and transit countries are also a concern, and the increased burning of fossil fuels as a source of energy is accelerating climate change.

 

What are the benefits of energy efficiency?

There are many benefits of energy efficiency, which include both environmental and economic. For example, environmentally by increasing energy efficiency can lower greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful pollutants and decrease water use. Economically, improving energy efficiency can lower utility bills for households and businesses, create new jobs, and can help stabilize electricity prices and volatility.

 

Which country consumes the most energy in the world?

China is the largest consumer of primary energy globally—using some 145.46 exajoules in 2020. However, the highest use of energy per capita is in Iceland. Although Iceland is ranked 73rd globally based on its total energy consumption at 17 billion kilowatts per hour annually, the average energy use per capita is approximately 50,613 per person per year. Compared to China, which has a much larger population, they have an average energy expenditure of 4,475 kilowatts per person every year.

 

What consumes the most power in a household?

Heating and cooling are the most significant energy users in the household, making up around 40% of an average electric bill. The other considerable energy users include washers, dryers, ovens, and stoves. Electronic devices such as televisions and laptops are generally pretty inexpensive to run, but they can all add up over time.