Keep the room's light low when watching television. This saves electricity and also cuts annoying glare from your TV screen.
Switch off the TV set when no one is watching.
Switch lights off when you leave the room.
Use fluorescent or energy-efficient lamp, and dimmers whenever possible.
Use a single high-wattage lamp rather than several low-wattage ones.
Clean lamps and fixtures regularly.
If you want to use a lampshade, use one that allows light to shine through.
Switch off the vacuum cleaner when the motor becomes too hot, or when there is a change in the sound of the motor. Something might be blocking the hose.
Empty or replace the dust bag frequently.
Use a broom when possible.
Choose the correct size of air-conditioner for your room. If you are cooling more rooms, install a split unit, it's more energy efficient.
Clean the air filter regularly.
Set the thermostat at an ideal 25 C.
Set the ventilation control to 'close' to recycle the air in the room.
Keep your house cool by using awnings, blinds and solar reflecting film on the windows.
Choose the right size for your family's needs.
Check the gaskets and hinges for air leakage.
Make sure the front legs of the fridge are slightly higher than the rear ones so that the door closes automatically when released.
Adjust the thermostat to the recommended setting.
Allow hot food to cool and cover all food and liquids.
Don't overload the refrigerator. Allow air to circulate freely in the compartments.
Clear the fridge and switch it off if you're going away for holidays and leave the door slightly opened.
Turn electric hotplates off before food is fully cooked, as the remaining heat can complete the cooking.
Use minimum heat for simmering once food has boiled.
Thaw frozen food in the open air, rather than in a microwave or conventional oven.
When boiling water, boil only as much as you need.
Put a lid on it. Covered food cooks faster.
Check leaks in the oven door and repair if needed.
Pressure cookers consume less energy and cook much faster.
The right pot for the job is more efficient - use flat bottom pots.
Check your food through the oven glass.
Use an instantaneous water heater, rather than one with a storage tank.
If you are getting a storage water heater, a capacity of 23-27 litres is suitable for a family of four to six persons.
If you have a storage water heater, switch it on for about 20 minutes before taking a bath, then switch it off after use.
Choose the correct wash cycle. Wash only when you have full loads.
Avoid using the hot water cycle if it's not necessary.
Do not overload.
Use the required amount of detergent.
Plan your ironing, starting with items which need lower temperatures and avoid heating and re-heating the iron.
Setting the correct temeperature for the type of fabric saves energy.
Turn it off when you're done. And don't let it heat for too long.

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The world energy challenge

>> What lies behind today’s challenges?
>> Oil shocks in the 1970s
>> What comes next?
>> Gas as the bridging fuel
>> Nuclear and hydroelectric energies: a recent debate
>> Clean energies cannot yet meet energy needs
>> What is needed?
>> Glossary

World Class offers a simple overview of today’s opinions on energy challenges, derived from various sources.

Our children and their children will be using different energy sources from those we use today – solar energy and wind power are already familiar and there will be other options as technologies develop and become commercial. But they are tomorrow’s solutions. Today it is energy from oil and gas that still meets the fundamental needs of societies and will do so until renewable energies can take over the fossil fuel role (oil, gas and coal).
We all have a responsibility to be part of the solution to the world’s energy challenges, not part of the problem. Businesses working responsibly in competitive markets drive innovation and improvement in energy use. That may mean reducing greenhouse gas emissions and costs through eco-efficiency – using technology and innovation to find ways of doing more with less in terms of energy and materials. It may mean investing in new and renewable energy options such as solar, wind power and hydrogen as well as creating lower carbon products and services through new technology.
A recent scenario published by a major energy company suggests that a fourfold or even greater efficiency in energy use is possible. At least a doubling of efficiency could be achieved simply by a more widespread use of existing and anticipated technologies. That could make a difference of one third in energy demand in 2050.

What lies behind today’s challenges?

At the beginning of the 20th century, oil played only a tiny part in the energy equation, but gained in importance as production techniques improved and prices fell. As the emerging oil industry learned how to produce it, the average price of oil declined at a rate of 8% per annum over 20 years. That is a repeating pattern: discovery followed by technical innovation, greater efficiency resulting in lower costs, and lower prices bringing increased demand.
It was after the Second World War that the role of oil began to grow rapidly and play a significant part in the energy equation. From the 1950s until the early 70s it was fuelling and helping to drive the rapid growth in world GDP which raised living standards for many. From the 1950s until the early 1970s, Europe saw its longest ever period of sustained growth.
As new needs appeared and economic development progressed, energy sources became more diversified to meet growing demand. Coal, oil, gas, hydroelectric and nuclear energy all played a part in the energy market as the century progressed.

Oil shocks in the 1970s

Then, in the early 1970s, the picture changed dramatically with what at the time was called the oil crisis. The world had grown increasingly dependent on oil. Consuming governments had found it a useful source of tax revenue. Governments of oil producing countries whose onshore fields could be developed at low cost saw a huge difference between what they got from the oil companies and the price charged to the end user. In 1973, many responded to calls from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting countries (OPEC) by dramatically raising crude oil prices.
Demand for oil dropped in 1974, and most major industrialized countries suffered an economic slowdown. In the following years, the governments of many oil producing countries took a larger part in crude oil production. Events in Iran in 1978/79 and related oil supply constraints reemphasized the need to develop alternative energy sources and provided the economic stimulus to do so.
That was the time when consumption of natural gas in Europe more than doubled, and by the end of the decade it was supplying almost 50% of Europe’s energy consumption. At the same time, the oil price increases encouraged oil companies to develop resources at the upper end of the cost curve (as in the deep waters of the North Sea and offshore Norway).
In the mid 1980s, as supply increased competitive reactions in the market the picture changed dramatically once again. Oil prices collapsed, and where at one point they had been approaching $40 a barrel, they fell to $12. The economics of investment in energy development changed – and stimulated innovation and new technological solutions to bring costs down. This reduction in factor costs of energy was one of the many economic, political and social elements that drove the cyclical boom of the mid-1980s.

What comes next?

Oil, and the other fossil fuels on which the world has depended, are finite resources. How can the world deliver all the energy needed for development over the next 50 years without pollution levels that damage health, spoil local environments and damage natural systems?
By 2050 it is likely that world energy demand will at least have doubled. Developing countries will need five times more. Fossil fuels will remain important but energy companies are already working to minimize the environmental and social impacts of extracting and delivering fossil fuels as well as developing alternatives. Governments, policy makers, industries and communities all need to recognize that making more efficient use of energy is an important factor in the energy resource equation.
In the developed world, we are increasingly seeing the concept of dematerialization, where human needs are met through technologies and systems demanding a much lower energy input. With data highways and virtual reality, we are moving information and services rather than goods and people. Technological developments mean that manufacturing processes use much less energy, and the same is true of many end products (cars and computers, to take just two examples). At the same time, people are reluctant to give up high levels of home heating, air conditioning, gas guzzling cars, stop using cheap air flights to far away places and so on.

Gas as the bridging fuel

Natural gas is seen as an important bridge to a cleaner, lower-carbon energy future. It is the cleanest burning fossil fuel. In the next 20 years it is estimated that demand for electricity will nearly double. It is unlikely that alternative and renewable energy sources will be available to meet more than a small proportion of that growing demand. A combined-cycle gas fired power plant generates as little as half the carbon emissions of a modern coal-fired plant. This is particularly important in the context of China’s growing energy needs since China has traditionally depended on its coal reserves for power generation. This is part of the necessary shift towards low emission and low carbon energy. Of course, natural gas is not emission-free. But energy choices are ultimately social choices which may be based on economic and employment needs, or environmental concerns and fears about energy security and dependence as well as atmospheric pollution and climate change.

Nuclear and hydroelectric energies: a recent debate

The hostility to nuclear energy in many countries is an illustration of this, as is opposition to large-scale hydroelectric projects.
Between 1970 and 1990, there was steady growth in nuclear energy use. Firstly because of a strong increase in demand for electricity and the determination of those countries without fossil fuel resources, like France or Japan, to be energy-independent. Secondly because it was price competitive compared to expensive oil resources.
In thirty years, this new energy source has been able to meet one third of electricity demand in the European Union. Nuclear energy stocks in the United States are on a level with those of Western Europe. In Asia, the development of nuclear energy is ongoing, particularly in those industrialized countries experiencing sustained economic growth and which, like certain countries in Western Europe, lack primary energy resources. In the year 2000, nuclear energy provided around 17% of the world’s electricity. The “for or against nuclear” debate concentrates on one side on the dangers linked to the radioactivity present in the waste that remains at the end of the nuclear energy production cycle. Many countries have decided to bury their nuclear waste in very stable and almost impermeable geological strata for a number of years. Radioactivity is invisible and large quantities can induce long-term effects so the permanent nature of this waste is one of the worries of our time. On the other hand, as nuclear energy does not release CO2 it can be seen as an alternative in facing the problem of greenhouse gases.
Although the debate is less heated, arguments surrounding the use of water as an energy source are also vigorous. Many countries have chosen to harness part of the water from major rivers in order to produce electricity. Recently, some ecologists have denounced the impact of dams on the health of the water flows and the risks of pollution affecting flora and fauna. By controlling water levels upstream and diverting certain flows into reservoirs, unnatural fluctuations are created downstream which result in a lowering of water tables and can bring reduced water levels in the rivers or just the opposite, as when floods have destroyed areas of habitation, particularly in Asia. In ecological terms however, hydroelectricity has many advantages at a time when considerable efforts are being made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Clean energies cannot yet meet energy needs

Today, there are various energy sources that we call ‘clean’ or ‘renewable’. These will certainly play an increasingly important part in meeting the call for low or no-carbon energy but it will take some ten to twenty years before they can compete effectively and make a real difference to the energy equation. Energy companies are developing wind power technologies and the real cost of electricity from wind turbines, for example, fell by 10% over 15 years. But not everyone appreciates a wind farm on their doorstep or even on the horizon out at sea. In addition, because it is an intermittent source – depending on whether the wind blows or not – governments need to ensure that back-up supplies are available to make sure the electricity grid is reliable at all times. The alternative energies with the potential for large-scale use in the coming decades are solar power, fuel cells and bio fuels for transport.

What is needed?

At present, the cost of solar energy is at least ten times greater than electricity from fossil fuels or nuclear. This could be reduced, if sufficient investment and effort goes into developing innovative technologies. There should also be investment in new technologies to capture the greenhouse gases from fossil fuels more cheaply and efficiently. The use of alternative energies would demand new distribution infrastructures, regulations and markets. The world should be preparing for that. Governments are aware that they are publicly accountable for the energy choices they make. The Rio Conference and the Kyoto Protocol intended to introduce a global, systematic approach of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This has still not gained broad acceptance for various political and economic reasons and the issue to reduce the gap between the need to protect our environment and the perceived need to sustain economic growth has become one of the world’s major challenges.
The energy future poses great challenges if the developed countries want to maintain the living standards they enjoy today while the emerging markets meet their own urgent needs for the progress that energy can enable. Assessments of how the long-term energy future may develop vary according to the source. Some believe that energy needs may be met in an evolutionary progression through natural gas to renewable sources, with renewable possibilities meeting as much as 50% of energy needs around the middle of the century. Others see technological shocks changing the picture. This might bring a switch to hydrogen (people are already assessing the potential for a hydrogen economy). Or technology may make possible the commercial development of another unexpected (or currently unknown) source.
The present high price of oil may – as we saw in the 1970s – be just the spur the world needs to make the investments needed to support a cleaner, more secure energy future. Clearly the most important thing is the ability to continue producing and delivering the energy needed to raise living standards everywhere. Today’s situation should also be a spur to each of us to contribute as best we can to making the most efficient use of energy in all aspects of our life and work. It makes economic and social sense – for individuals, for companies, for countries and for our children’s future.


Term normally used to indicate treatment systems to reduce the emission into the atmosphere of atmospheric pollutants. Typical abatement systems are: scrubbers, cyclones, bag filters, electro filters, activated carbons beds.

The use of steam or heat to generate electricity and to process materials. The most common example is in the standard thermal production of electricity: after the high-pressure steam has been routed through a turbine to generate electricity it is used again in some industrial process. The major advantage of cogeneration is that it maximizes the use of thermal energy generated through the combustion of fuels.

Fuel Cells
A device for converting chemical (Hydrogen) energy into electrical energy.

is power and can be of different nature:
MWel is electrical power
MWth is thermal power.

Photovoltaic cells
A device that can transform solar energy into electricity.

Renewable energy
A source of energy that is replenished by natural phenomena, such as firewood or the water held behind by a dam used for hydroelectrical purposes. Conversely, fossil fuels are a non-renewable source of energy.

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