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Is efficiency the whole story?

Yes! Achieving efficiency in production, conversion, transportation, subdivision and storage of energy is the key to Planet survivability. A coal fired power plant will transfer about 35% of the coal’s energy into electricity. Then about 10% of the surviving electricity is lost in transit over long distance lines. Once the electricity arrives at the point of use, it must be subdivided and converted to useful work. It can be efficiently or wastefully used. Finally, the machines we choose to do our work can be efficient users of electricity, i.e. they can convert the electrical current into useable energy without excessive losses or heat and to maximum desired effect.

Of equal importance is our ability to conserve energy so as to reduce the electrical energy requirement and to make the electricity supplied more effective. Our domestic buildings alone consume more energy and emit more emissions than our cars. Passive building design (including retro fit of existing buildings) and phase change materials offer demonstrably better energy solutions.

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