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Category: Global Energy Trends

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Earthly Innovations to Celebrate Around the World

Everyone wants to build their own home, or must, to survive the earthly elements – try being in a hail storm, for example, without even a tarp over your head. When we ask ourselves what our ideal homes would look like, how many of us ask what the ideal energy solution would look like too? For example, you might want vaulted ceilings and marble flooring – and all of the latest Energystar rated appliances, of course – but how many architects are ensuring that these tall-walled rooms are bright and warm in the winter, and lit but cool in the summer? By design, and perhaps a couple of windows/sky lights in the right place, and you’re set! When you apply then the carbon footprint cost, how many of us decided to build our homes with locally-sourced materials?

Some people are clearly making this connection, like the woman in Kenya who created her own recycled bricks using locally sourced materials. Nzambi Matee’s buildings are not only structurally sound, but installations of art as well: “Kenyan woman’s startup recycles plastic into bricks that are stronger than concrete”(https://www.designboom.com/technology/gjenge-makers-recycled-plastic-bricks-kenya-02-08-2021/). According to the article on Designboom.com, “before creating gjenge makers ltd, nzambi matee majored in material science and worked as an engineer in kenya’s oil industry. in 2017 she quit her job to start creating and testing pavers, which are a combination of plastic and sand. she gets the waste material for free from packaging factories and also buys it from other recyclers. through experimentation, she understood which plastics bind better together and then created the machinery that would allow her to mass produce them.”

For another example of a local innovation, check out the young entrepreneurs featured (right) whom created a solar-powered cooking station! According to his account on Twitter, Mr. Usman Dalhatu and partners had this to say of the collaboration, “We met with Dalsman Technologies Limited, creators of the iCart Solution. We explored areas of mutual interest, and avenues to empower petty traders in Kaduna. iCart is a solar powered, compact kiosk targeted at small businesses including Shayi, Suya and Kosai vendors,” and also the following: “The journey from ideation to final development of products is a truly fascinating one. It was delightful to discuss with @KadunaMarkets, our dev’t vision for Kaduna through deployment of the iCart. Looking forward to the exciting implementation journey that lies ahead.” https://twitter.com/UsmanDalhatu5

What’s in your area, or in your home, that could be re-purposed into something sustainable? It could be something as complex as designing a brick for a home using locally sourced materials and keeping natural heating and cooling elements in mind, or a solar-powered food-cart instead of using a gas or electric-powered stove – to something as simple as a dish-rack, for example – which is a much more sustainable way to dry your plates and dishes, and costs little to nothing to purchase and use. What else will make a difference in energy consumption in your home, your schools, in your business?

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The Solution: Paris Climate Accords – Why Should I Care About Paris?

If you’ve been following along with our blog this week, you know that: 1) energy usage isn’t just increasing in the U.S. – it’s increasing all over the world; 2) energy production is meeting energy consumption in a few countries, but severely lacking in many other countries outside of the U.S. and China (which will lead to blackouts), and 3) that Carbon Dioxide – a harmful greenhouse gas associated with climate change – is not produced when using renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, or hydro-electric energy.

If this is true, what’s the solution? This is where things get really interesting! For many years, climate scientists and activists have been the only ones sounding the alarm on climate change, however thanks in large parts to their efforts (and to the increase in the price of non-renwable resources like oil and gas), world leaders are finally starting to listen. In December 2015, 196 countries signed the Paris Climate Accords! This was monumental because no other agreement of it’s kind had included such a wide array of countries all advocating for the same cause: the reduction in climate change. To learn more about what this agreement entails, check out the following link: https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/the-paris-agreement; or for a more detailed look, check out the full text of the Paris Climate Accord here: https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/english_paris_agreement.pdf. With this agreement, each country designated their own goals for CO2 reduction – which means if you’re thinking about increasing the energy efficiency of your home, you’re not alone! Almost every country in the world is doing the same thing, and hopefully if we work together, we can see notable changes before it’s too late.

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Energy Production Around the World

One thing we did not specifically call out in yesterday’s blog, that I’d like to call attention to now is on the CO2 production page, here – https://yearbook.enerdata.net/co2-fuel-combustion/CO2-emissions-data-from-fuel-combustion.html – take a look at the CO2 production contributors by source titled, “Breakdown by energy 2019”. Notice anything interesting? On this chart, you will find that the CO2 production comes directly from Oil, Coal, and Gas – even though there are other energy contributors in these countries, namely Wind, Solar, and Hydro. This is because while there may be some negligible CO2 costs with regard to transportation of goods or the initial installation, these sources do not contribute to the production of CO2 in the air! If this is obvious, then congratulations – you’re ahead of the game – since this is part of why they’re called “renewable sources”. If you read the paragraphs below this chart, you’ll get a better picture as to which countries specifically are increasing/reducing their carbon footprint and how. The short story is that by harnessing sun power, wind power, and water power to create electricity, they are reducing their consumption of CO2-producing energy sources (oil, coal, and gas)which is why renewable energy is so very important to the reduction of CO2 in our atmosphere.

Now that we have this basic understanding of renewable and non-renewable sources of energy, let’s take a look at some of the energy production numbers around the world.

Global energy production: see here – https://yearbook.enerdata.net/total-energy/world-energy-production.html, and for a more detailed look, here – https://www.iea.org/reports/world-energy-balances-overview.

What do you notice about energy supply and energy demand (or energy consumption, as discussed in yesterday’s blog)? Post your comments about global energy production trends below!

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Energy Usage Around the World

Back to the Basics: let’s take a look at energy usage trends. The way in which we choose to use energy in our homes and in our lives is not fact or fiction, or personal opinion, or necessity – it’s cultural.

I’ve always considered myself an energy advocate, but it wasn’t until I visited Spain that I realized that clothes dryers are not essential to every day life. Are they helpful? Absolutely! However they also use a ton of energy (we’ve looked into this before, but according to Direct Energy it’s about 2-6 kWh, https://www.directenergy.com/learning-center/how-much-energy-dryer-use#:~:text=Electric%20dryers%20span%20a%20wide,cents%2C%20depending%20on%20the%20model), and while I understand that I’m not going to get the same soft, “fresh out of the dryer” effect with a clothing line, it made me wonder how I could reshape my cultural norms of energy usage, and what this might look like on a global scale.

Global Energy Usage: https://yearbook.enerdata.net/total-energy/world-consumption-statistics.html

This data is interesting though probably not surprising. China used the most electricity from 1919-2019, followed by the U.S., and then India – but that correlates *almost* directly with populations, at least for the most populous three countries (https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/population-by-country/), since the top three nations with the highest population are currently: China, India, and the U.S., respectively. After the top three however, this correlation between energy usage and population weakens – the following countries with the highest energy usage, according to the same link – Russia, Japan, South Korea, Germany, Canada – are not the countries with the next highest populations – Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil, Nigeria, and Bangladesh. Thus, energy per person is not the same in every country.

The picture is even more puzzling when looking at CO2 emissions. You might think that CO2 emissions correlate directly with energy usage – but take a look at the following link, and you’ll find that’s once again, not true: https://yearbook.enerdata.net/co2-fuel-combustion/CO2-emissions-data-from-fuel-combustion.html. This implies that some countries use energy more efficiently than others – they use more energy, but produce less CO2. There is of course more to this story – which we’ll continue onto later in the week – but for now, I hope this gets you thinking about energy efficiency and how you can improve it on an individual level, by changing the culture around energy usage one step at a time.

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