Negawatt Energy

Negawatt Energy

Negawatt energy refers to a reduction in energy use by making some change in the system. For example, changing all the lights in your house may reduce the energy required to supply your home with adequate light by X Megawatts. Each Megawatt (1,000,000 Watts) is a negawatt.

Industry has used this term to quantify energy savings as if they are equivalent to energy. It is also a method by which industry can deal with changes to energy systems as quantifiable energy savings.

For example. A power station in the US was starting to develop peak demand issues. At the time they had three choices. 1. Ignore the problem and put their customers on rolling black outs when they demanded more energy than was available. 2. build another unit on their power station, or 3. buy everyone high efficiency light bulbs to reduce the demand. In fact the last option was the one which was implemented. As it was known that buying everyone in their community energy saving light bulbs would reduce demand by X Negawatts, they could postpone building a new generator which saved the company a lot of money. It also reduced the environmental impact on the area, as transmission lines did not need upgrading and neither did the power station.

This is one example and is perhaps a rare one, however it demonstrates how the concept of Negawatt energy works. Putting insulation in your roof has a Negawatt value if it reduces the amount of heating and cooling required. Solar hot water systems do the same. Adding eves to your home will also reduce the energy consumed heating and cooling.

With each measure put in place, it allows the government to allocate renewable energy credits to a system which can be subsidised to speed up implementation of that process.

Risks with Negawatt Systems

The biggest risk with stamping an energy saving device with a Negawatt value, is that it might not actually be reducing energy at all. For example, a house with no air conditioner or heater that installs insulation would not observe energy savings in their home. They would perhaps be more comfortable however. If the government subsidised this insulation in order to reduce energy demand, the process would be flawed. This is why the concept of Negawatts must be fully understood, as the application of an energy saving measure as well as the energy saving measure itself must be taken into account.