29 February 2008


Greenpeace has taken another step in promoting a sustainable use of our natural resources in a world of ever-growing consumption.

In EfficienCity, a multimedia-packed interactive virtual town (with some good pioneering examples), they demonstrate how to lower greenhouse gas emissions and achieve more secure energy supply, with consequent cheaper electricity and heating bills.

In this virtual model they advocate the principle of decentralised energy, where small Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants can provide most of the energy needs of a town in an extremely efficient manner.

"It's the most efficient way possible to burn fuel because so little energy is lost as waste heat. (...) Because the heat needs to be captured and piped around the local district, CHP plants are usually sited in the towns and cities where the electricity and heat will be used. This makes it more efficient for electricity generation as well as heat; very little energy is lost in transmission.

CHP is also brilliant in the transition from a fossil-fuelled energy system to one based on cleaner, greener fuels like biogas and biomass. CHP plants can run on a variety of fuels, which means that the fuel mix can include fossil fuels like natural gas but, as more cleaner fuels like biogas become more available, they can switch to those."

Apart from the CHP plant, the decentralised energy system they propose also makes use of local renewable energy sources (such as solar, wind, tidal or wave power).

It is also a flexible and scalable system that can fit the local needs. This way, instead of depending on one single massive power plant, different infrastructures can have their own power sources, such as a small CHP or a single wind turbine, for example.

Such a system can improve energy security as when "using hundreds of small energy generators instead of a few major ones means there's a far lower risk of system failure; it's far less likely that several small plants will fail at the same time than that one big plant will."

Finally, efficiency means not only a great deal less resources consumed, with its positive impacts on greenhouse gas emissions, but also, at the individual level it means a great deal saved by every energy consumer, i.e. us, the citizen. In short, a better life quality by all standards.

So, the next step is to convince the big energy (oil, coal, nuclear, etc.) lobbies to give up their monopolies and everyone, the people, the planet and all other living beings, will thank them! Not an easy task to do, though...

EfficienCity, Greenpeace UK
All about EfficienCity, Greenpeace UK
Make your town climate-friendly, Greenpeace UK

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