The Energy Crime

The technology developed for the use of fossil fuel to generate electricity is not very efficient. Most of the fuel we use is converted into heat energy, which goes to waste. Conversion losses when electricity is generated and transported mean that by the time we switch on our incandescent light bulb, only some 2% of the energy from the coal is being used to create light. This is the’ energy crime’.

We therefore need to be as efficient as possible in the use of our non-renewable energy sources.

Energy efficiency

Energy efficiency is using electricity more efficiently or in reduced amounts – in other words, doing the same with less electricity. Technically speaking, energy efficiency is an improvement in practices and products that reduces the amount of energy necessary to provide services such as lighting, cooling, heating, manufacturing, cooking and transport.

A simple way of improving energy efficiency is to change our behaviour when we use electricity. This can be simple acts such as turning off the lights or equipment when they are not in use, or reducing the temperature setting when you use the washing machine (reducing the temperature in the washing machine from 60oC to 30oC will reduce the energy consumption by almost 50%). LED lights use only 10% of the electricity of standard incandescent lights.

Just by substituting present equipment and appliances with the best available technologies on the market, the overall energy consumption in South Africa would probably be more than halved.

Benefits of using energy more efficiently:

  • It reduces our electricity costs
  • It limits and reduces the environmental impacts and hazards to human health of current energy use
  • It increases the resilience and efficiency of our economy
  • It postpones the building of new power plants, and frees up capital for other investments

Waste not transport/fuel energy

The Overstrand coastline is 250 km long, with settlements spread out over long distances. Daily commutes to work are therefore often long. Private transport is the dominant form of transport, with taxis providing the only public mode of transport. It is estimated that as much as half of the energy used in the Overstrand is for transport. Transport is the biggest CO2 producing sector responsible for climate change.

The combustion of petrol and diesel also significantly contributes to the emissions of nitrogen and sulphur oxides. Nitrous oxide is responsible for the brown haze seen over many cities.

Reducing our fuel consumption will therefore not only save us money and reduce the amount of oil we have to import, but will also benefit the environment.

Cutting down on our use of cars will also reduce the need for very expensive new roads. Plans to cater for the number of cars in Hermanus include building a provincial road through the precious and irreplaceable Fernkloof Nature Reserve.  A zero value has been placed on the land in the calculations of cost of the road. This disregard for the importance of natural ecosystems, biodiversity and visual heritage is not acceptable.