Peter Tertzakian: The End of Energy Obesity

Uploaded by PeterTertzakian on 22.06.2009

Our current energy appetite can be traced back to the Industrial Revolution:
Start industrializing, making factories, mobilizing, starting to drive around and urbanizing, moving to the big city.
What you see is that energy consumption starts to go straight up.
And so industrialization, mobilization, urbanization are the key factors to a growing energy appetite.
For six thousand years, our standard of living and our energy consumption has risen hand in hand.
That’s what I call "The First Principle of Energy Consumption".
Indeed, society has been shaped by the way that we consume more energy and [by] the way that our energy has been supplied.
An energy breakpoint is a period in energy history that doesn’t come around very often, once every few generations.
An energy breakpoint occurs when the way that society is using its energy
and the way it’s being supplied its energy is no longer sustainable.
Something has to change.
Historically, those changes have come in our energy diet.
When we’ve chopped down too many trees and there’s not enough wood, we start using coal.
When the price of oil goes up and we find it too expensive, we say OK, here’s nuclear power.
In the summer of 2008, the price of oil went to a hundred forty seven dollars,
the price of natural gas was well over ten dollars, the price of coal had shot up by four five times --
All the elements were there.
Our energy issues -- trying to satisfy future prosperity, energy security, and environmental sustainability --
cannot all be met just by supply side solutions.
This time, the solutions to our energy breakpoint will be necessarily found on the demand side.
This is the first time in six thousand years, I believe where society has an opportunity to
reduce its energy consumption by changing the way that it lives, works, and plays.
Energy efficiency and energy conservation are very different.
Energy efficiency is about being less wasteful in converting our source energy into the work that we desire.
For example: the process of going from the coal in the coal mine to lighting up this room.
Conservation is turning the lights off altogether.
And there’s a big difference between the two.
And there’s far more power and far more leverage in turning off the lights than there is in being more efficient.
Imagine that you don’t have to jump in a car and commute twice a day.
Imagine that you don’t have to jump an airplane to go for a one-hour meeting
that may be four hour flight time away and then come back.
Imagine that the lights in unused parts of a building go off automatically.
Imagine that a building learns how you behave and adjusts the living environment to the inhabitants.
Historically it’s been the other way: the way that we use our energy has defined the way we live, work and play.
Going forward, changing the way that we live, work and play is going to redefine the way we use our energy.
The Holy Grail here is for society to be able to continue to improve its standard of living
while at the same time start to moderate its energy consumption.
That’s what my book is about.