Thursday, March 24, 2011

Implementing EU efficiency directive could close 98 Fukushima reactors

Energy efficiency is really a great big elephant in the room amongst talk about keeping the lights on and where the power should come from.

As if it's somehow equivalent to asking people to go on a diet and eat only fruit and veg.

But it's not.

If just one existing EU energy efficiency directive were to be implemented fully, to make everyday machines and gadgets more efficient, we could have the same amount of comfort, save loads of money on bills and close the equivalent of 98 Fukushima sized plants, according to a new report.

Sound too good to be true? Read on...

The legislation in question is the EU's 2009 Eco-design Directive. This covers the energy efficiency of 41 product groups.

11 of these have already been dealt with, leading to savings of around 340 TW hours of end-use energy a year, the European Environmental Citizens' Organisation for Standardisation (ECOS) has calculated.

It has also worked out that if the remaining 30 product groups were to be made to conform to the new standards, the total electricity saved would be 539 Tera watt-hours (TWh) per year, equivalent to 98 times the 5.5 TWh produced by the average 780 MW nuclear reactor such as those used in Fukushima, or 49 of the more powerful European Pressurised Reactors (EPRs).

"This is how many new nuclear plants we would not need to build, thanks to the energy savings these measures could achieve," said Edouard Toulouse, the ECOS officer who compiled the statistics.

Monica Frassoni, president of the EU Alliance to Save Energy (EUASE), a body of energy efficiency advocates from business, politics and campaigning, described the figures as "staggering" and blamed poor implementation and monitoring of the directive for the failure to make the savings so far.

"There is a political barrier," she said, "and it is exactly the same one that we find when the Commission and member states don't want to fix binding targets for energy efficiency".

A Commission spokesperson said that the Eco-design Directive was "a policy success story" but admitted that "there is still a lot of work to do in order to fully use [its] potential. The Commission is aware of this and therefore the implementation of this directive remains one of its top priorities in the energy efficiency field."

ECOS says that the delays in implementing the energy efficiency savings is costing European consumers and business up to €120 million a day in extra fuel bills. Its 'coolproducts' campaign is calling for more ambitious minimum requirements for energy efficiency.

Why not sign up to this campaign? - just click on the link.

I don't fully believe the figures, since other research shows that if gadgets become more efficient we just use more gadgets, cutting the amount of predicted savings.

But if these measures were implemented, and the European energy efficiency targets were made compulsory, then I do believe Europe could turn its back on nuclear power.

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