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View Diary: It Ain't How Much Energy We Generate, It's How Much We "Reject" (for the USA at least) (28 comments)

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  •  While energy efficiency (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gmoke, HoundDog

    is the least costly way to reduce energy consumption while improving standard of living, the EIA numbers on rejected energy do not adequately measure the utility of energy consumption.  For instance, transportation energy used to move the mass of a personal auto is being counted as useful, as is resistive heat for space heating and water heating.

    Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

    by benamery21 on Sat Jun 07, 2014 at 04:32:23 PM PDT

    •  Even Less Efficient? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      benamery21, ladybug53

      That seems to be your point:  we are even less efficient than the LLNL graphs and EIA numbers indicate.

      My understanding is that the LLNL charts changed the way they figured "rejected" and "useful" energy a year or two ago.  I believe that they are also moving away from those particular terms where "useful" energy will become "energy services," a little more precise terminology from my perspective.

      •  Yes (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gmoke, PeterHug, alx9090, Kingsmeg

        Most residential energy use is for space heating and water heating.  In 2009 these made up 59.2% of residential use.  Much of the energy consumed and categorized as useful is unnecessary to achieve the desired ends of staying warm and having a given amount of hot water.  Increased building envelope sealing and insulation, for instance, would dramatically and cost-effectively reduce space heating demand.  All of the heat energy applied to leaky underinsulated building envelopes is being counted as useful here.  Heat pumps typically use about 1/3rd as much electricity as resistive heating elements, but all of the heat provided by resistive heaters is categorized as useful.

        Most industrial energy use is consumed to process petroleum into different forms, and yet that energy is shown as useful rather than an energy loss by the end-use.  If refineries (which change energy from one form to another) were treated in similar fashion to power plants (which change energy from one form to another) all of this energy would be shown as rejected.

        Most transportation energy use is consumed by light autos and heavy trucks.  In the case of autos, in most cases the desired effect is the movement of a 180lb adult from one location to another, but all of the work done moving a several ton auto at the same time is classified as useful here.

        The American economy is extremely profligate of energy.  There is significant opportunity for investment in efficiency which would also make money.  This is known as the "energy gap" in the economic literature.  This is without considering the externalities of our energy economy, which increase the returns from efficiency improvements.

        Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

        by benamery21 on Sat Jun 07, 2014 at 05:30:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Does this step immediately precede the charts? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gmoke
          Most industrial energy use is consumed to process petroleum into different forms, and yet that energy is shown as useful rather than an energy loss by the end-use.  If refineries (which change energy from one form to another) were treated in similar fashion to power plants (which change energy from one form to another) all of this energy would be shown as rejected.
          So, are the mining and processing of coal and uranium not part of the flows, or are they included in the 'industrial' box, downstream?

          As you said, if they are included then all of the energy required for those processes must necessarily be dumped in the "rejected" bucket - assuming the resulting products are used to product energy - otherwise you are double-counting.

          •  Mining and Processin (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            alx9090, benamery21

            Mining and processing are counted as useful energy because we consider the materials they provide as useful.  Only the inefficiencies in their production are counted as "rejected" energy:  the motors at X efficiency and thus X loss rather than the whole enterprise as a dead loss.

            That's my understanding, but I most definitely could be wrong.

            •  It would be helpful to see weighted paths from the (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gmoke

              rejected bucket back to each of the 'energy source' buckets. It would be helpful to see what's behind those orange and pink boxes as well.

              Also, I didn't get your poll question. Energy has units of, well, energy, and efficiency is dimensionless. I know you know this ;), so what I'm asking is what did I miss?

            •  Mining and processing what, though? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gmoke

              If it's coal for energy, then mining and processing energy is not profitable (unless we sell the product out of the 'system', say to Canada.)

              If the product goes to the 'back of the line', the left-hand side of the chart, then the energy used to get it there should not go into services (It hasn't left the system, it's just 're-invested' so to speak)

              So, either I don't understand what 'services' is (most likely this is the case. past performance and all that), or there needs to be a 3rd bucket, or there should be weighted arrows from the pink boxes to the source boxes.

          •  I would guess that most of the upstream (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            alx9090, gmoke

            energy in the coal input to powerplants shows up as transportation energy (trains, barges, trucks, trams, and pipelines), although the actual mine and tipple energy usage is under industrial.

            Uranium upstream energy probably is placed in industrial, but I would guess the majority shows up in electricity sector, since almost all of the input energy is electrical for enrichment.

            Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

            by benamery21 on Sat Jun 07, 2014 at 08:43:57 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Second Law Economics, Exergy, Useful Work (0+ / 0-)

          Agreed.

          If Architecture 2030 is successful, by that year the [new] US built sector should be energy neutral (or possibly energy positive) for HVAC and other needs.  Here in Cambridge, MA we are talking about a net zero energy standard.  Denmark, which plans to be 100% renewable by 2050, is a good model for what is possible.  Of course, they are a small country and have a lot of district heating and cogeneration but, where applicable, we could do the same and raise the rate of useful work, exergy, we get from our energy.

          What little I've studied of Second Law Economics, thinking about social systems in thermodynamic terms, combined with systems dynamics, ecological design principles and pattern languages, Elinor Ostrom's work on common pool resources, Gandhian economics, Bangladesh's Grameen [Village] not for profit businesses, and other things led me years ago to the idea of solar swadeshi and sun money (http://www.dailykos.com/...).

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