For Immediate Release
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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle...Energy
WASHINGTON - The United States throws away a
staggering amount of energy that could be cheaply and easily captured and used,
according to the latest issue of World Watch magazine.
Waste-energy recycling-which captures smokestack waste and other wasted
energy and puts it to work-currently contributes about 10,000 megawatts of
electric power to the U.S. national total each year. But a recent study
estimates that if the energy content of all U.S. smokestack waste were
recycled, it could replace roughly 30 percent of the electricity produced by
burning fossil fuels. Elsewhere the technology is widely used: Russia gets over 30 percent of its electricity
from waste-energy recovery, while Denmark gets more than 50 percent.
In "Bridge to a Renewable Energy Future," co-authors Robert Ayres and Ed
Ayres explore this underutilized technology and its ability to bridge the
transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, noting that expanding
these technologies is often a boon for the investor's bottom line as well as
"As atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide also rise-and as public concerns
about the global energy dilemma also rise-private investment in the energy
transition bridge may shift from tentative to robust," they write. "The key...is
that in many cases, such investments can bring the double dividends of both
corporate and social benefits, often with a rapid return on investment."
Despite their potential, these proven technologies have been seriously
underused to date. And energy recycling is just one of several high-potential
strategies that can reduce both fossil-fuel use and carbon emissions during the
long transitional period ahead.
"Waste-energy streams aren't a substitute for renewables, of course; the
point is we're going to need both.
And energy recycling from fossil fuel-burning plants can help us make the
transition to renewables much sooner."
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The Worldwatch Institute is an independent research organization recognized by opinion leaders around the world for its accessible, fact-based analysis of critical global issues. Its mission is to generate and promote insights and ideas that empower decision makers to build an ecologically sustainable society that meets human needs.