By Dave Elliott
A new report from Greenpeace says the world can be 100% renewable in energy by 2050, and 65% renewable in electricity in just 15 years. The 2015 Energy [R]evolution report, the latest iteration in its global and local scenario series, says global CO2 emissions could be stabilized by 2020 and would approach zero in 2050. Fossil fuels would be phased out, beginning with the most carbon-intensive sources. (more…)
I just loved reading the following article about North Carolina State Representatives discussing if people can hang their clothes out to dry for all to see: http://www.news-record.com/blog/53964/entry/64277. What this exemplifies is a very “down home” version of the energy-security nexus. This time we’re not directly talking about national security regarding nuclear proliferation of reprocessed spent nuclear fuel. We’re talking about the privacy of someone not having to look at your under pants blowing in the wind. How much electricity savings is that worth?
The article discusses how the initial drive to use clotheslines was to keep home owners associations from imposing restrictions on them. Then some of the representatives noted how using the sun and wind to dry your clothes saves energy. This was not a very convincing argument, but it poses the interesting point about the energy service that is really provided by your gas or electric clothes dryer.
Ask yourself, after you have washed your clothes and they are wet, how soon do you want them dry? Another way of asking this is: When are you going to wear the clothes that you just washed? If you are like most people, you wash several days worth of clothes at one time (to save some combination of time, water, and energy). Therefore, you can’t really wear them all in the few hours out of the wash. So letting them dry over several hours is extremely feasible. If you are a person that hangs their clothes, you can hang them on hangars (while being careful not to stretch the shirt collars) and already be much of the way toward putting them in your closet! Putting clothes in the dryer certainly makes the entire process go faster at the expense of using on-demand primary energy versus the intermittent solar and wind energy (not electricity!) from the environment.
The fact that using the clothes dryer is so mainstream in America speaks to our desire for convenience and cheapness of electricity in that we pay extra for a service (clothes getting dry) that occurs FASTER THAN WE NEED. I applaud Representatives Pricey Harrison and Malcolm Graham for pushing for both freedom (the freedom to literally hang your clothes out to dry for all to see if you so choose) and promoting energy security with climate change implications. What these Representatives may have in gusto (or perhaps it was the article’s author), they lack in energy knowledge as the article mentions that Rep. Harrison notes 10%-25% of household energy usage can be consumed by the clothes dryers. I guess they “can be used” that much, but the Annual Energy Outlook (2007) of the Energy Information Administration indicates that approximately 0.9 quads of primary energy is consumed by household clothes dryers. This is approximately 4% of residential energy use.
But I forgive the state Reps. If we all can think outside of the dryer like they can, then we can probably save 200% of our energy consumption, and that’s got to be good for the economy!