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Economics of energy

A misalignment is occurring in the debate surrounding energy use and rising CO2 levels with a clear disconnect between the business and environmental community.

On one side is the science community, remonstrating the use of fossil fuels and the catastrophic implications this will have on rising C02 levels, from extreme weather events to melting ice and rising sea levels.

Then, on the other hand the business community fears that any drastic changes to the economy to face this threat will have catastrophic effects on the world’s economy.  With the Digital Revolution impacting and accelerating change at breakneck speed in every sector and industry worldwide, including how people interact with each other, this state of constant flux is already creating uncertainty.  The increased use of technology itself is putting it’s own additional demand on energy resources, with data centre numbers on the increase worldwide  - approximately 1.3% of worldwide electricity use can be pin pointed to data centres.  To put it into perspective, a large data centre can use the equivalent energy of a large town.  While technology companies are constantly searching for new ways to neutralise their carbon outputs and become more energy efficient, it will always be an uphill struggle due to consumer’s appetite for technology.

Where you stand on the Carbon debate is likely tied to your political philosophy, your education, your location and your place in the economy.

However a new study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a group that promotes simply using energy better, suggests we can reduce CO2 levels with no net cost to the economy.

The predominant focus is on localising Energy Efficiency Strategies, and on micro economies, the knock on impact of this is potentially substantial.  Like the old adage, count your pennies and the pounds will count themselves.  The simple overview recommends focussing on the following:

Local Government – through awareness campaigns and Energy & Environmental Leadership.

Water and waste facilities – Interestingly on this point, the recent winners of the Irish Times Innovation Awards 2014 OxyMem are pushing innovation through their water treatment technology, or as they state “Changing the Economics of Water Waste Treatment”.

Strategies focussing on commercial buildings and industry, this is where Energy Consultants such as Frontline Energy can work with businesses and building owners to identify operational and behavioural changes and make a positive impact to their cost base and energy use.

Residential Energy Use – As BER Certification is now a requirement and with some grant programs available through SEAI home owners are now more inclined to implement energy efficient upgrades, in turn creating employment among local contractors and tradespeople.

Utility Companies, supporting local energy efficiency projects.  With utility companies now expected to offset their carbon by implementing and supporting energy efficiency upgrades and projects, this push is now beginning to gain some ground.

If you are considering an upgrade to your building or ways to streamline energy use through your business processes, get in touch with our team here to find out what energy saving options you could avail of and if your business or building is eligible for some of the funding options available.