While I had promised in my previous posting that I would tackle the issue of taxes next time, well, it is not going to happen. At least not yet. That post is still planned for ‘next’ time however. I found myself elsewhere discussing ways to save electricity. My simple posting there became something much more in-depth than I had planned and decided to move the whole thing to here. I’ll go back later to my personal blog and try once more to write the simpler yet related related posting from scratch on that site.
With all our electronic gizmos and indoor climate control it comes as no shock that as American we are easily among the top users of electricity in the entire world. Surprisingly the numbers are not as bad as could be expected, but there is still much room for improvement.
According to the CIA World Fact Book the United States has the world’s third largest population at 307 million people – massively trailing India (1.15 billion) and China (1.34 billion). And with an annual average population growth of less than one percent – placing 130th in the world – it is assured that we’ll be outnumbered for many years to come.
The truly interesting numbers to me though are in our generation, utilization and waste of electricity as nation.
As Americans we do indeed produce more electricity than any other country in the world at 4.1 trillion kilowatt-hours (KWh) per year. China trails but is most likely narrowing the gap quickly as the nation produced an estimated 3.5 trillion KWh in 2008. For further comparison, the entirety of the European Union produced just above 3 trillion KWh while Russia came in fourth at 1.04 trillion KWh.
When it comes to consumption of electricity, once again the U.S. leads the way at 3.87 trillion KWh. China was not far behind at 3.4 trillion KWh, followed by the European Union, Russia and China.
However, while we are the largest producers and consumers of electricity as a nation we are NOT the world leader in electrical energy per capita. Turns out there are much worse places to live than the U.S. when it comes to individual usage of electricity. The countries of Iceland (28,789 Kwh) and Norway (23,011 KWh) have the highest per capita energy demand. Not too surprising really when you consider the cold climate of each of those countries. Canada and Finland follow suit in third and fourth place, but then the arid desert climates make a showing. The United Arab Emirates and Kuwait placed fifth and sixth at more than 14,500 KWh per capita. Lo and behold the United States only comes in a distant ninth place at 12,250 KWh per capita.
And that is not the only seemingly good news either.
Twenty-five percent of our nation’s electricity is generated by either hydroelectric or nuclear power plants – a better than average number in the world rankings. We also release fewer CO2 emissions than China despite producing more electricity. Plus, according to the Carbon Monitoring for Action (CARMA) database, our carbon intensity – CO2 emissions per unit of electrical energy generated – ranks only 10th highest in the world (Poland is number one with an 80% larger carbon intensity.)
While we can take some pride in these numbers, don’t go patting yourself on the back quite yet. The CIA Word Fact Book also reveals that 237 BILLION kilo-watt hours of electricity produced in the United States each year simply disappears into thin air. How you ask? Well, according to the book, this discrepancy between the amount of electricity we generate and the amount we consume is accounted for as a loss in the transmission and distribution of electricity from the power plants.
237 billion KWh. That is a staggering number. To put this figure into perspective, we LOSE more electricity via inefficiencies of transmission through our power lines and distribution stations, than all but 17 other countries produce in any given year. More of our electricity vanishes in our power lines than is produced annually in the countries of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Sweden and New Zealand.
It has become quite obvious to myself that it is high time our country takes a strong look at investing into not just new ways to produce electricity, but also in more efficient means of transmitting the electricity to our homes, offices and industrial complexes. We will go a quite a ways toward reducing our dependence on foreign countries for fossil fuels for our energy needs just by developing and implementing new technologies to reduce transmission loss.
I make no claim to having any clue what these new technologies may be or how we should implement them, but I have no doubt that as Americans we have the ability to develop new efficiencies and begin an electrical productivity revolution. When it comes to workplace productivity, America has most often been leading the way for the rest of the planet. Now let us extend our lessons about productivity to our electrical grid.
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