It's not just about renewable energy, it's about energy efficiency
Although in recent weeks the BBC's Panorama has queried the costs to energy users of renewable energy, and despite the recent setbacks for solar power, there is a great deal of information and enthusiasm about the increased development and use of alternative energy sources to meet our global energy needs.
But the enthusiasm and focus on these renewable energy sources has in many ways created a sense of complacency that our future energy demands will easily be met. And failure to look beyond the energy production method could be a grave mistake.
Moving to 100% renewables is a long way off. The total world energy demand is for about 400 quadrillion British Thermal Units €" or BTUs €" each year (Source: US Department of Energy). Currently, oil, coal and natural gas supply nearly 88 per cent of the world's energy needs and renewable energy collectively provides a mere 7% the world's energy needs, according to the Environment Agency(Is this the UK Environment Agency).
The energy efficiency light bulb
Clearly we have some way to go before renewable energy can even come close to the more traditional sources. So in many respects, in the short-term, the debate around where we get our energy from misses the point for today's energy consumers.
Today's debate should not just be about where we get our energy from, but instead, how we are using it. Energy efficiency needs to sit at the heart of any energy debate, with strategies that look to change long-term energy consumption behaviour and attitudes towards energy wastage.
Clarity is key for today's energy user, whose biggest short-term challenge is driving down utility bills €" and then keeping them there. It is only when we all understand how and when we use energy that we will be empowered to change our usage, with the knowledge of the real impact this will have.
Energy disaggregation technology such as that developed by Navetas can provide the insight that is needed for energy users, providing intelligence on real-time energy consumption to help businesses and consumers know where savings can be made €" on energy and on their fuel bills. It's a technology that also paves the way for novel billing models, which could reward greener energy use and assist in "load levelling" of the national grid.
Energy disaggregation technology isn't the only answer to energy efficiency, but it's a step towards gaining the insights we need to drive a more sustainable future.