Our Environment and our health
Fossil fuels burnt in our transport systems and our production of electricity accounts for about 90% of global CO2 emissions. The consensus amongst the world’s climate scientists is that anthropogenic global warming has put us on course to increase the temperature for the planet at a rate that is too fast for the ecosystem to cope without massive disruption. As we burn more fossil fuel we release more CO2 and the temperature rises – and so the other carbon stores such as the methane locked in the Siberian and North American permafrost begins to be released. Methane, as we all know, is 30x more insulating than CO2 so we are heading towards a runaway situation where the positive feedback will accelerate this rate of change. That’s why the climate agreement has stated 2 degrees rise as the limit, it’s the permafrost melting that’s the major worry.
So the world’s leaders have been coming together over the years to thrash out an agreement to agree what’s to be done to tackle this. This culminated in the Paris agreement, the Conference of Parties (CoP) in Paris Nov 2015, where an historic agreement was reached to take action. Since then an increasing number of countries including the USA and China and recently the UK have ratified this agreement so the percentage of agreeing parties has reached a threshold where it is now legally binding. The tide is now turning and many powerful influencers at state and city level, not to mention the investment community, are increasingly pursuing a policy of fossil fuel divestment because it is sensible to do so.
Electricity generated by a combustion engine either a car, a lorry or a generator emits Carbon Dioxide and Nitrogen Dioxide and very fine dust particles (Particulate Matter – PMs). Diesel engines are supposed to be very fuel efficient but they are a whole lot more polluting.
If we take a specific example, diesel generators used for temporary power in construction or events and festivals, we can see that they are sized according to the estimated maximum load, however the majority of the time the real load is much less, often as low as 10% of the peak and for 60-70% of the time. It’s even worse when you consider that the chain of estimations and margins of safety get compounded by the different layers of specifiers: from the person who says I need one this big, through the various levels of procurement, and then finally what is actually available from the supplier. It’s not unusual to see generators double the size they need to be, but better safe than sorry eh? Well not quite. This means that the diesel generator is regularly operating far below the level it is designed to run at and makes the issue of emissions far worse than it needs to be.
The world health organisation estimates that 40 million people a year die prematurely from the effects of air pollution. It’s true that diesel fumes mainly come from transport but construction sites are a major contributor to this pollution. As much as 15% of NOx and PMs are estimated to come from construction sites burning diesel.
The cost to a country’s health care systems runs to billions each year. Premature deaths caused by the effects air pollution is estimated to cost the UK NHS £20 billion per annum. Oxford street is one of the most heavily polluted places in the UK. You wouldn’t know it or feel the effects, but the Royal College of Physcians is clear, you’re much more likely to die early from the effects of air pollution than anything else. Air pollution on our streets is killing people.
Energy storage provides a means to reduce diesel consumption by improving energy management and enabling the generator to be switched off between 60-70% of the week