Climate

Steven Chu Is The $100 Billion Man, But How Much Energy Will Secretary Moniz Save?

Back in my day, being a $6 million man was a big deal. But while bionics might help someone deliver a lot of power, it has nothing on energy efficiency.

After Steven Chu departed the Energy Department, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) decided to take “A Look Back at Secretary Chu’s Enormous Impact on Energy Savings.”

The ACEEE found:

Taking into account products sold between now and 2035, new efficiency standards adopted during Chu’s four-year stint will net U.S. consumers and businesses more than $100 billion in savings. The energy saved by these new standards will be about enough to power the entire U.S. economy—all of our buildings, industries, homes, cars, and trucks—for about four months.

So Steven Chu is the $100 Billion man. No wonder energy efficiency has the highest documented rate of return of any federal program.

Here are some highlights:

  • Standards completed in 2009 for the tube-shape fluorescent lamps used mostly in offices will save more energy than any other standard ever issued by DOE.
  • New water heater standards will help heat pump technology and gas condensing technology gain a market foothold by focusing on large water heaters where these new technologies are most cost-effective.
  • New residential refrigerator and clothes washer standards will reduce the average energy use of these products by about 25% and 40%, respectively. These standards show that continued technological gains can deliver cost-effective energy savings, even for products that have already achieved dramatic improvements.

In his first speech as energy secretary, Dr. Ernie Moniz pledged that “efficiency is going to be a big focus going forward.” Indeed, at a conference sponsored by the Alliance to Save Energy, Moniz said:

“Let me just say off the bat that I have been working these problems for quite a while, I have never seen a credible solution to the climate risk mitigation challenge, to reach the kinds of goals we need to reach, without the demand side playing a very, very important part in that.”

Perhaps Moniz will be the first trillion-dollar man. Certainly future generations will need that kind of savings if we are to avert catastrophic climate change.

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32 Responses to Steven Chu Is The $100 Billion Man, But How Much Energy Will Secretary Moniz Save?

  1. Paul Klinkman says:

    Well,if he wants the title, an awful lot of good energy ideas are sitting out here, languishing, waiting for him.

  2. Raul M. says:

    Professor Stephen Salter has done work on methane capture. At the 2011 AMEG workshop, Prof Salter presented the paper: Can we capture methane from the Arctic seabed?

    Sam Carana recommends action in the blog of the Arctic Methane Emergency Group.

  3. Superman1 says:

    ” I have never seen a credible solution to the climate risk mitigation challenge, to reach the kinds of goals we need to reach, without the demand side playing a very, very important part in that.” Demand is key; as Kevin Anderson has clearly shown, altering supply is inadequate. Only the most draconian measures in demand reduction offer any hope of avoiding the climate cliff.

  4. Raul M. says:

    Does the oxidation of water by TiO2 releasing oxygen and hydrogen become a cause of concern for the health of the stratosphere or is it a cause of the reduction of stratospheric ice clouds?

  5. Dave S. Nottear says:

    Efficiency, Jevons Paradox and a 7 ft tall 500 pound Glutton walk into a bar…

    Efficiency is a joke unless we Control our appetite and dramatically reduce our consumption. (not a good joke, a bad one).

    Increased efficiency is a Pacifier – it makes life easier for the current living and it lets the current living continue BAU while pretending to be doing something useful.

  6. Mike Roddy says:

    Moniz has a long history with the fossil fuel companies. He cannot be trusted to do anything except maybe a little weatherstripping.

    As for what we actually need- a crash program to close coal and gas plants and replace them with wind and solar- he won’t go there at all.
    In fact, he’s a gas tout, which will bake the planet just as fast.

  7. SecularAnimist says:

    Superman1 wrote: “Only the most draconian measures in demand reduction offer any hope of avoiding the climate cliff.”

    That’s a great bumper sticker slogan if you want to discourage action to reduce fossil fuel use by making it sound really scary to do so. But of course it is utter nonsense.

    There is no “demand” for energy. There is demand for the goods and services that energy provides. And the whole point of efficiency is to provide the goods and services that people demand while using far less energy to do so.

    According to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, 58 percent of the USA’s primary energy supply is WASTED — just plain WASTED, while providing NO value whatsoever.

    That means that by simply eliminating outright WASTE, we could reduce the USA’s energy consumption by 58 percent — with NO reduction at all in the goods and services that people actually “demand”. Let alone the “draconian measures” that you constantly wail about (while refusing to state specifically what they might be, in spite of numerous requests to do so).

  8. Superman1 says:

    Paul, we are poised to reach 1 C in about a decade (or less). At that point, we enter the regime that Kevin Anderson and many climate scientists call Dangerous. These renewables ideas, while they may have been ‘good’ thirty years ago, will do nothing to prevent our crossing the line into the ‘danger zone’.

  9. Superman1 says:

    The only hope would be a WWII-style effort to institute draconian measures to reduce fossil fuel use in parallel with extremely rapid carbon recovery and low-risk geo-engineering (if such exists). The lack of any national or global will to take anything resembling these actions precludes any possibility that we can avoid the danger zone, and the climate cliff that follows.

  10. Superman1 says:

    Given that we are proceeding with all due haste in the exact opposite direction, the chances of avoiding the climate cliff are about as close to zero as is possible.

  11. Superman1 says:

    “unless we Control our appetite and dramatically reduce our consumption”. Exactly! But the Pied Pipers of pomposity and pontification who post on these pages will try to convince us that renewables and efficiency are all we need; no reason to tighten our fossil belts. They will lead us right over the cliff.

  12. Superman1 says:

    “As for what we actually need”. Mike, there is only one thing Mother Nature wants: cut those CO2 emissions and ppm as soon as possible. Anything beyond that is our addiction to the good life. Only the most draconian measures to reduce fossil fuel use offer even the slightest glimmer of hope for our civilization.

  13. Superman1 says:

    Developing methane hydrates would be “game over for the climate,” writes green blogger Mat McDermott. “It’s easy to see why he’d be concerned: methane hydrates contain more carbon than all the world’s other fossil resources combined, according to USGS estimates. If developed at a significant scale, hydrates would certainly be more than enough to cook the climate.”
    http://theenergycollective.com/jessejenkins/198761/japan-taps-methane-hydrates-pondering-explosive-implications

  14. Superman1 says:

    The Livermore study on energy waste concludes: “Although there is vast room for improvement, if the US can employ a combination of decreasing consumption, increasing efficiency, and increasing the role of renewable energy sources, hopefully we’ll continue heading in the right direction.” Like you, the conclusion is misleading!

  15. Superman1 says:

    There are two types of waste: mission waste and approach waste. Mission waste is the low-hanging fruit; it can be done cheaply, easily, and on a short time scale. Eliminating vacation travel, a non-essential energy expenditure, is an example.

  16. Superman1 says:

    Approach waste, the focus of the linked article, requires at a minimum some implementation time, and usually some R&D as well. It is more complex and more expensive. While both should be pursued in parallel, because of the time urgency of the climate change problem, mission waste needs to be addressed as quickly as possible.

  17. Superman1 says:

    Unfortunately, a substantial portion of our economy revolves around mission waste, and eliminating this major component of waste will severely depress the economy. For obvious reasons, the Livermore article does not address this. Nor do you!

  18. Superman1 says:

    Your statement “That means that by simply eliminating outright WASTE, we could reduce the USA’s energy consumption by 58 percent — with NO reduction at all in the goods and services that people actually “demand”.” is about as misleading as anything else you post.

  19. Raul M. says:

    Sam’s comment was in response to a question about methane flux. You know that methane that just went up into the sky last year. The comment was about capturing that methane before it went to the atmosphere. Some concern has been shown for the necessity to mask that methane warming. I think it will be easier to catch the methane at ground level rather than stratospheric level.

  20. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Do we want to, or need to, capture methane from there, or is it the fossil fuel interests that want to. But, perhaps that’s is what he means by ‘we’.

  21. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Sorry. I seem to have misconstrued methane capture to avoid it entering the atmosphere with methane extraction for energy. Oops!

  22. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Increased efficiency is important, but only with reduced demand thrown in (which inevitably means humane population reduction), along with decarbonisation of energy sources. Jevon’s Law (it was promoted by the denialati from a mere ‘Paradox’)is anachronistic bunkum, resurrected for ideological purposes.

  23. Raul M. says:

    Seems to be the problem with public support for fracking?

  24. Raul M. says:

    Could fluxing be the nomenclature for sheeting or umbrellaing the methane leaking from the permafrost or seeping from the ocean shelf?

  25. Raul M. says:

    Could fluxing raise enough profits to reinvest into a community through starting a fuel cell power plant that supplies heat for aquaponics and hydroponics with lighting from LED’s built within a storm shelter?

  26. BobbyL says:

    I would assume over the next several decades demand for air conditioning willsoar due to warmer temperatures, particularly in cities which have a heat island effect. Also, air conditioners will have to use more energy to maintain the desired temperature. Of course much of this energy is totally wasted, particularly in large houses with central air conditioning where empty rooms with no occupants are being air conditioned. Also, drivers will need to turn on the air conditioners of their cars more losing some of the gains in driving more fuel efficient cars. I agree we need reduced demand to ever successfully address global warming but how can we achieve that with temperatures on the rise?

  27. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Bobby, don’t you have zoning systems so that you heat or cool only which rooms are necessary? Beyond that, get out of places that don’t have windows and learn how to keep your house cool without air con so you can survive when the blackouts come, ME

  28. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Boring, repetitive and pettily insulting.

  29. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Plant a few trees, facing the sun, particularly in the afternoon. Insulate the house. Paint it white. Shutter windows, and add curtains, Design houses better, with verandahs etc. Air-con must be a last resort, for the young and old, in only the hottest weather.

  30. fj says:

    This is truly wonderful news about Chu and absolutely amazing.

    Very high efficiency net zero methods and technologies will be major initiatives in the battle against the accelerating climate crisis.

  31. Superman1 says:

    “I agree we need reduced demand to ever successfully address global warming but how can we achieve that with temperatures on the rise?”
    Either we reduce demand, or demand will reduce us!

  32. Ric Merritt says:

    Joe, Secretary Moniz could use a little advice in the area of rhetoric, about not starting of sentences with a quotable quote like “Let me just say off the bat that I have been working these problems for quite a while, I have never seen a credible solution to the climate risk mitigation challenge…”. Some quoters will not let on what’s in the ellipsis.