Making power needs more energy than it yields

Published: Friday 30 April 1993

-- IT TAKES energy to produce energy. But different commercial fuels yield different amounts of energy per unit weight. Scientists at the National Productivity Council carried out an "Embodied Energy Analysis" of Indian fuels and found it takes as much as 3 kilocalories of combined energy from coal, diesel and fuel oil to produce 1 kilocalorie in the form of electricity. Power is, therefore, an extremely inefficient source of energy and the only reason why it is so popular is because it is clean at the point of use and can be used to work appliances that other forms of energy can't.

By switching over to other energy sources wherever possible and saving power for critical work, we are, therefore, likely to get a greater return than saving other forms of energy. When we save 1 kilowatt-hour of electricity, we are saving 3,450 kilocalories of energy in all. In other words, we conserve not just one unit of power, but also 0.7957 kg of coal, 0.0126 kg of fuel oil and 0.0035 kg of high speed diesel.

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