By the Numbers

Beyond propaganda and rhetoric, numbers tell the real story


Kettering University professor Dr. Homayun Navaz turned down the velocity of cold air and raised the temperature to 32 degrees to improve energy efficiency in a refrigerated display case, resulting in significant energy savings and colder food. By reducing the velocity by 30 percent, the food became one degree colder due to 12 percent improved infiltration while the power required was reduced 13 percent. Refrigerated display cases are responsible for nearly 50 percent of all energy consumed in grocery stores, convenience stores and supermarkets. More efficient infiltration results in a significant decrease from 83 percent to 71 percent of the cooling load — the biggest energy draw for refrigerated display cases. The nationwide annual savings for reduced infiltration rate version of vertical display cases has been calculated at approximately $170 million to $200 million, with a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of more than 500,000 tons.

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Because the costs of renewable energies are four times higher than previously expected, North Carolina's Progress Energy stated that it could not meet state mandates after considering more than 100 proposals to generate electricity from solar, wind and agricultural waste sources. North Carolina implemented the mandates in a 2007 state law, which included cost caps intended to protect customers from large price increases. According to the Raleigh, N.C., News & Observer: "The state law limits the utility to spending $1.5 billion on renewable resources by 2021, the year the state's clean energy requirement is fully phased in. That's when Progress and Duke Energy will have to get 7.5 percent of its electricity from renewables and 5 percent from energy efficiency programs. Currently, less than 2 percent comes from the alternative resources." According to the newspaper, "The cost caps for renewables is much less than expected nuclear costs, but renewables would generate a fraction of the power. Residential customers would pay no more than $10 a year from 2008 to 2011, $12 a year to 2014 and $34 a year thereafter. The cap for commercial customers starts at $50 a year and tops out at $150 a year. The cap for industrial customers starts at $500 a year and peaks at $1,000 a year."

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Alex Alexiev, Hudson Institute adjunct scholar, reports that efforts by the Chinese to become more energy efficient do not include renewable energy plans and, in any event, are not yielding positive results. "To the Chinese, energy efficiency means more efficient coal-burning equipment, co-generation, coal liquefaction, and other improvements of their primarily coal-based energy industry," wrote Alexiev. "Despite marginal improvements in this area, China is now the largest carbon dioxide emitter in the world and can, at best, slow down but not stop carbon emissions growth for the foreseeable future." Alexiev relies on statistics from Beijing's State Electricity Council to report that the percentage of energy generated from renewables in China has declined over the past two years in favor of pursuing nuclear energy. Japan is also seeking to increase its use of nuclear power from the current 30 percent to 41 percent over the next decade, while limiting its renewables target to 3 percent in 2010. Despite major subsidies for solar energy over the past 30 years, California currently produces only 0.2 of its energy needs from the sun. In the meantime, Germany generates 15 percent of its energy from solar and wind power sources, exceeding the European Union's 12.5 percent target for 2010. However, costs for electricity in Germany have risen 38 percent from 2006 to 2007 due to the fact that solar panels cannot "convert more than 25 percent of sun energy into electricity, while wind power's 'load factor' — i.e., electricity produced per installed capacity — seldom exceeds 20 percent." The inability of renewables to provide baseload capabilities has forced Germany to back up solar and wind with conventional energy sources. In the meantime, Italy and Sweden have rescinded their nuclear energy moratoriums, which were adopted in the 1980s. Italy established goals of meeting 25 percent of its electricity needs from eight new nuclear plants. England has announced plans to upgrade eight nuclear reactors and build 10 new plants. France, according to Alexiev, "already derives 80 percent of its electricity from 58 reactors ... and is aggressively moving forward with third-generation reactors at home and abroad." Ukraine has announced plans for 11 new reactors over the next 20 years, while India plans to build 40 new reactors over the next 22 years to increase its energy yield from nuclear energy from the current 3 percent to 45 percent.

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