Can a label make energy green?

The start of the new year heralds a brewing argument across Europe with the European Commission proposing to label some gas and nuclear power as ‘green’. With a majority vote in favour, this could become law by 2023.

This comes just months after the COP26 Climate Summit pledged to keep temperature rises within 1.5°C. Scientists say this is required to prevent a “climate catastrophe”. Current pledges, if met, will only limit global warming to about 2.4C.

The logic in labelling gas and nuclear as green is that they are helping to transition the continent to cleaner power with the fossil gas and nuclear energy sectors contributing to the decarbonisation of the European Unions economy.

Some of the criteria states that gas plants will have to limit the amount of carbon dioxide released per kilowatt-hour of energy produced. While nuclear plants will need evidence of strict waste disposal plans. This is in the hope that only producers with the highest standards will be included within the ‘green scheme’.

Individual nations have responded, and not surprisingly with their vested interests front and centre. France, with 70% nuclear reliance, but an historic pledge to cut this by half and close 12 of its reactors by 2035, is reportedly pushing for nuclear production to be included.

While senior politicians in Germany, which is in the process of phasing out nuclear completely, have described the proposal as ‘wrong’, that environmental disasters and large amounts of nuclear waste could be the outcome, and the proposal simply waters down the good label for sustainability.

Obviously, there is a need for global collaboration to produce energy that comes from sustainable sources. Having entered the 2nd year of the decade that will end with global CO2 emissions supposably being halved and fewer than 30 years until our net-zero target, the deadlines suddenly feel very real!

Consider, for a moment, that the quest for green energy production is being looked at through the wrong end of the telescope. A far-away, broad picture, a mass of inter-related parts, almost too much to take in and little clarity. But if we were to turn the telescope around, we can pin-point very specific issues and take determinate action. To relieve pressure on the transition to greener energy production, part of the answer could be to use less rather than make more. The greenest energy is, surely, the energy we don’t use!

By cutting the unnecessary consumption of energy at as many points of use as possible, every individual action is contributing to future sustainability. The key factor is making actions easier.

Irus, the energy management system from Prefect Controls has been helping universities and student accommodation providers to play their part in cutting energy use since 1997. The system is constantly looking for ways to reduce heat input and control is at the fingertips of energy managers who can monitor, measure, and manage energy use remotely. The internet-based portal provides data from every room with temperature and activity time periods being set individually to give maximum comfort with maximum efficiency.

Room occupants have control over their personal comfort, but should they set the temperature to maximum and forget about it, leave the room, or open a window, Irus takes over, recognises that heating the space would be wasteful and reduces energy input.

The system has evolved over time and monitors the environmental conditions of the space it inhabits, with alerts being sent to management if it detects unusual humidity, light, decibel, or CO2 levels.

While nations argue over the big picture, individual actions taken locally by reducing consumption can help to mitigate the immediate problems, while waiting for sustainable energy production issues to be resolved.

www.prefectcontrols.com