Why is energy being needlessly wasted while prices spiral out of control?
Today energy is being needlessly wasted while inefficient so called 'green' technologies are being encouraged and subsidised by the taxpayer. With energy prices spiraling out of control and governments around the world calling for industry to reduce its carbon emissions, what part can the electronics industry play to increase the efficiency of electrical equipment and convince manufacturers to look more closely at lifetime costs when sourcing components?
My company, PULS UK, designs and manufactures some of the most efficient power supplies in the world with typical efficiencies of over 96% compared with the average of around 80%. To put this into context, if we assume energy costs are 10p per KWh and we are using a computer with a 1000W (1KW) power supply, this would mean a saving of a whopping £174 a year saving and a corresponding reduction in CO2 emissions. It is true that our units are more expensive, around 20%, but when you consider the lifetime savings in energy achieved by specifying more efficient power supplies the advantages are obvious.
Unfortunately buyers sourcing original equipment for manufacturers often have a different agenda with price being the main criteria rather than the lifetime cost of ownership for the end user. I suppose it's understandable; they have to compete in tough markets so from their point of view the cheaper they can produce their products the better. After all, how many end users are aware of the on going cost of ownership in terms of energy efficiency and are prepared to pay a little extra initially to save more in the future? Surely supply chain controls should include a comparative lifetime cost? It seems crazy with all the talk about reducing carbon emissions that the government and the EU are not encouraging manufacturers to specify high-efficiency power supplies when they design new electrical equipment. We're all being told to use low-energy light bulbs and to insulate our lofts, but the public are oblivious to the energy they're wasting whenever they watch TV or use an electrical appliance that's fitted with an inefficient power supply.
I am committed to helping the UK manufacturing sector become more competitive against our European and global competitors and have witnessed UK component suppliers losing out by being more comprehensive in their approach to quotations. In other words we tend to include factors like transport costs and site visits whereas our foreign competitors often do not. We also need to look carefully at what the customers really need and look for alternative more cost effective ways of achieving their aims, rather than just quoting for the items specified.
The present energy policy pursued by the British government is another reason why our manufacturing sector is not increasing rapidly, even in an environment where the value of the euro is very high against sterling. The extra costs caused by green taxation, the cost of subsidising renewable energy, particularly the wind farms springing up all over the place is another cause for concern. This is not sour grapes, as a group we actually supply components for wind generators used by companies in India, China and the UK, but to my knowledge none of them are actually manufactured in Britain.
Consider the green credentials and usefulness of wind energy. How much is it increasing everyone's energy costs and therefore making UK manufacturing less competitive? Where are they manufactured and how much energy is being wasted shipping them around the world? Ships are one of the most polluting transport systems in the world, so how does that sit with the government's environment argument? How much pollution is produced linking them to the National Grid, building access roads and in the case of offshore sites maintaining them at sea?
Wind farms will never be able to deliver anything like enough power to make a significant contribution to our energy needs. Think back to the cold period last year when temperatures plummeted and the weather was incredibly still. If we were relying on wind power there wouldn't even be enough electricity to make a cup of tea let alone heat our houses and run our factories - it's all just window dressing. The posturing of politicians claiming to be helping the planet with so called green policies won't keep us warm in winter or help our industries remain competitive in world markets.
The logical solution is nuclear, but because someone in Japan built a nuclear power station in an area called 'the ring of fire', with dire consequences, the Greens have been handed a trump card in the argument against them. Until we come up with a better solution, and assuming we want our children to have a future in a successful country, we must protect our energy supply and ensure it allows our manufacturing industry to flourish. Those of us in the electronics industry must play our part in making sure we continue to develop innovative products to make the best use of the energy we have and use our marketing skills to encourage our customers to use them.
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