is what allows the world to move. From the second we wake up to the second we go to sleep (and even as we sleep), energy is a crucial part of our everyday lives. It keeps the world alive especially in this technology driven era, and our need for energy is only growing.
Even so, there are problems regarding our energy choices. As we begin to reach out to those who don’t have access to energy and plan for our future, we create risks towards our environment. We are looking to provide billions of people and many more with energy in the future but our present mixture of energy sources is not sustainable for the long term. Many renewable sources of energy are available today, but non-renewable, conventional sources still hold much power in our society. The latter sources are contributors to pollution, and, at the rate of consumption we are at now, we are on a fast route to consuming all the fossil fuels in the world. You may have heard those statements said before but how much are you doing about it? Are we all adequately informed to make the changes we want?
The goal of this page is to help us all understand how our energy choices affects our environment; It could persuade us of the important link between the energy sector and the environment. Understanding our actions and comparing this to a global scale would be helpful to provide us with the motivation for a change.
DO WE KNOW THE BASICS + SURVEY
In Indonesia, the citizens could receive their energy from several utilities, with one of the largest being the state-owned PLN. PLN takes control over 85% of the energy capacity in Indonesia and the greatest source of energy for this utility is coal energy (50%). Here are a few things I did to gain an understanding and raise personal awareness on energy consumption. You could engage in some of these as well!
The first thing I did for this project was to conduct a survey on a sample group of high schoolers. I reached out to several of my classmates (30 of them) and asked them to fill out the survey through email. I received 9 completed responses. Here is the actual survey I sent as well as the summary of the responses.
Survey (You do not need to answer this one):
A few key findings are shown above. The first graph shows that most of the people who answered the survey were quite familiar with the power utilities they get their energy from. Even so, they might be writing down the names of this utility (most answered PLN) because it is the most well known and most used.
Indonesia has yet to achieve a more balanced ratio of renewable to non-renewable sources. The results show that a number of the students surveyed are aware of that. Even so, a similar number of students did not choose any of the fossil fuel options and believed that Indonesia is being powered by other sources of energy. The options that were presented to them were the top sources of energy for PLN.
It seems that everyone had a consistent perspective of which sources were more eco-friendly than others. They all believed that coal and oil were the dirtiest sources of energy and wind and solar were the cleanest source of energy. This is true based on what we know of these sources, but there are kinds of energy such as hydropower energy and natural gas that people still seem confused about. This indicates a need for more knowledge because with greater support and innovation a few of the less used sources could potentially be efficient and cleaner for the future.
Now here’s a survey you could take. I have altered it from the original survey I gave to my sample group to take into consideration our different backgrounds. After completing the survey, you will be able to view the results and see how you compare to other participants.
REFLECTING ON WHAT WE KNOW AND WHAT WE DO + INTERVIEWS
In our GOA Energy Class, we participated in an assignment to compare the pros and cons of different energy resources through debate style presentations. It was interesting because there was so much to learn; There were a lot of facts that were really new to me and to my classmates. This shows how there’s always more than we think we know and that the face of the energy sector is always changing and evolving. We could be more aware of that change so that we would be more advanced in our decisions for our energy consumption. I did my presentation on solar energy with one of my classmates and discovered that solar energy (the PV technology at least) is actually becoming really cost competitive with our usual conventional sources. I personally thought that solar energy was still really costly but this isn’t the case now. In 2009, the levelized cost of PV solar utilities was nearly $360 but, by 2015, it dropped to about $80! The levelized cost of energy is the total cost of building and operating a power and the average cost of fuel. Coal energy has a levelized cost of $110. Renewable energy does have the potential of being the clean, cheap solution we need for our future.
I decided to interview a few people from my school to see what they know about energy as well as their opinions on energy. From the group of people I interviewed, there were a few environmental studies students who I thought could have a little more insight on the topic of environmental awareness. The questions I asked each of them were pretty similar in each interview but I asked a few different questions every now and then. Here are a few of transcripts for the interviews:
Interview Transcript #1 – George
Interviewer: You’re an enviro student right?
Interviewer: Ok, so, what do you think is the cleanest source of energy and why?
George: Hydropower, cause, I don’t know, like, ok obviously not like factories and stuff, cause they’re bad, but there’s obviously different things like hydropower and what’s that called… wind power. There’s also solar power. They’re all kind a good, because they don’t use coal and are from the earth, but you have to remember that you have to fill that stuff and its’ kind of difficult to build and is expensive. Anything with factories and stuff, anything renewable is fine. It just depends where you are and which country you’re in.
Interviewer: What do you think about the consumption of fossil fuels then?
George: Like right now?
George: well it’s bad.
Interviewer: hahaha, that’s very concise
Interviewer: Do you feel like you try your best to conserve energy?
George: yeah, like when I leave my room I turn off the lights, like my sister doesn’t do that but I do it.
Interviewer: Do you know the most of the energy consumed by the household is from –
Interviewer: no, from appliances (off) that are left plugged in the socket
George: well, I didn’t know that, that’s kind of bad. So obviously I’m not doing a good job and I also take really long showers, hahaha…
Interviewer: hahaha, do you know which utility you get your energy from?
Interviewer: like from PLN or?
George: Oh I’m guessing it’s a factory because I live in Indonesia. I highly doubt we have solar energy. It’s probably like fossil fuels.
Interviewer: Oh, okay. So you’re right because most of the energy produced in Indonesia is from coal.
George: Wait, but that isn’t a fossil fuel. Is coal a fossil fuel?
Friend in the background: It is, hahaha…
George: Oh I thought fuel was a like petrol hahaha…
Friend in the background: Well they use that as well… hahaha
Interviewer: hahaha so do you know what sector makes us a huge sector of the world’s total energy consumption?
George: Public transport? I don’t know
Interviewer: That’s actually pretty much right
George: oh! Hahahaa
Interviewer: hahaha, right, how do you feel about that? do you use the car a lot?
George: Yeah, I do. Well, I live in a city where I can’t walk so it kinda sucks, but if I’m in Europe over the holidays I do my best to walk and I take the subway and stuff
Interviewer: That’s cool. So do you think clean renewable energy is costly?
George: Yes, I think solar energy, to build those panels, to build hydroponic plants, to build wind power, that’s really expensive. Like once you get it going its not that bad but I’m not sure cause I’m not an expert, but to build all those things that are sufficient to like run the whole country of , like, 200 something million people, its going to be very expensive.
Interviewer: Do you think energy could transition into more renewable energy?
George: I think Indonesia has enough money because of all the fossil fuels they have, and they could just sell it to other countries. But there is so much corruption, so I don’t think it’ll work.
Interviewer: Hahaha, okay, thank you.
George: No problem.
Interview Transcript #2 – Kevin
Interviewer: What do you think is the cleanest source of energy and why?
Kevin: Cleanest source of energy…um…my opinion would be hydropower dams…because, I mean, they are one of the more renewable source of energy and they , the amount of rivers and streams that we have in the world, especially in Indonesia actually, especially since it’s, the terrain in Indonesia is quite perennial, meaning that it is quite uphill at some places, like the rivers that do exist there. The rivers that do exist there would be very useful for hydropower dams.
Interviewer: Do you think Indonesia does a good job in investing in sources such as hydropower?
Kevin: Well, I mean, you can see that they are trying to transition to more renewable sources of energy, especially like on the roads, like you can see the lamps, the street lamps. especially near the airport, they are beginning to use solar power lamps. but then that rate of transition right not is not going as quickly as I hope it to be.
Interviewer: do you feel like you try your best to conserve energy?
Kevin: um, I would like to think that I do, but I know that deep down inside I don’t, I actually don’t. cause electricity, or like energy in the form of electricity is um in my opinion probably the most important thing that makes my world function and so I can’t live off, live without it.
Interviewer: Why do you think it’s so hard for people to change their energy consumption
Kevin: I think it’s sort of the mass perception that someone else would do, as if it is someone else’s responsibility to help resolve the issues that we have right now, especially pertaining to global warming and changes in the climate. like, me individually, um, I know it sounds relatively selfish but I sort of expect the government to be changing their policies on renewable energy rather than me trying to conserve energy
Interviewer: So, do you know where your energy is coming from, like which power utility?
Kevin: oh, um, mostly from fossil fuels because this is Indonesia, and there is a lot of sources of fossil fuel, especially coal and oil here.
Interviewer: Are you concerned about our energy future?
Kevin: um, concerning what sense? like detrimental to the environment?
Kevin: well in that case then yes. Obviously I’m concerned about the future of our climate and the condition that we’ll be experiencing in a few decades, but I don’t think the world will change any time soon unless the cost of producing renewable sources of energy drastically decreases and becomes cheaper than nonrenewable sources. so unless that happens, I don’t think much will change.
Interviewer: Do you think clean, renewable energy is costly?
Kevin: well, I mean, like, the prices have decreased quite a lot in the past few decades, especially since the, like to take an example, solar panels used to be really expensive, but now, with innovative business ventures, such as Elon Musk, they are starting to make it more accessible to the public
Interviewer: Could you perhaps mention a few things you do to conserve energy?
Kevin: Well, let’s see hahaha… I try to take short showers and turn off all my appliances at night
Interviewer: Do you think other people your age are aware and try their best to conserve energy?
Kevin: I think people are aware that there are fundamental issues with the use of nonrenewable sources like fossil but I don’t think people my age will be willing to act upon it, I mean like me myself I’m not that incentivized to change my lifestyle per say
Interviewer: Alright, thank you.
OUR LIFESTYLES IN NUMBERS + PERSONAL ENERGY AUDIT
One of activities I participate in for the GOA Energy class was a personal energy audit. I think this was a great way to learn more about the amount of energy you consume in a year. While filling it out, I became more conscious of my energy consumption habits and realized things that I could be doing better. For example, charging my phone for a couple hours takes up around 17,434 BTU per year, but sometimes I leave my phone plugged into the charger for too long. That wastes energy. There are also some situations that require a lot of thinking to find a solution for. I use a ton of energy by riding a car everyday. Unfortunately, living in Jakarta, it’s rather hard getting around without a car. According to this research document, the average energy consumption per person in Jakarta is 5,726 kWh, which is equal to 19,538,000 BTU. When I finished my audit, I found out that I roughly spend about 26,549 kWh of energy per year ( or 125,059,227 BTU).
The energy audit that we took for the course was created by Lehigh University. I’ve attached the link for the it below so you may complete the energy audit yourself. Have a go!
See how you compare with a few of the numbers below. There are links as well if you want to learn some more interesting facts.
|Activity||BTU per activity|
|10 minute shower (50 gallons of water)||22,000 BTU|
|Laundry (1 load with cool/warm water)||8,800 BTU|
|Laundry (1 load with hot water)||17,600 BTU|
|A gallon of Gasoline (for cars)||125,000 BTU|
This webpage also provides more numbers: http://www.energytrends.org/household-energy-facts/
Reflection and self awareness are crucial skills for us to recognize to make a change. We need to be aware of our current habits and reflect on them so we may adopt newer better habits. When it come to energy consumption, sometimes we never pay attention enough to how much we could be using. The world is changing by the way we live on it and we need to be aware of that. Energy is definitely important now for our efficiency and our progression but if we are not able to use it responsibly then we are all at a loss.
Good research and motivation is a great way to start, so this page was meant to introduce you all to a few resources and activities that will help you with awareness development. One of the SDGs (SDG 7) is to ‘ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy to all’. The world has identified the issue and has initiated what will take us towards a sustainable energy future. Let’s use what we know to accomplish this goal.
After participating on this page, I hope you all have a greater understanding of making energy choices and their importance. This is not a call to completely steer away from energy (as I’m typing away on my laptop).
Share and take action!
Featured image from: http://www.dentons.com/en/find-your-dentons-team/industry-sectors/energy.aspx