Alliance to Save Energy awards UTC as 'Star of Energy Efficiency'

Remarks of George David, Chairman

16th annual Star Award celebration


John [Larson], thanks very much for those nice words and recognition, and special thanks also to the Alliance to Save Energy for this great award.

We have worked hard at energy over a decade and evidently with the good results as the Commissioner has noted. It's also not just energy but other resources and badnesses like water (down 49% in gallons) in the last decade, and hazardous waste (down 89%) and chemical releases to air (down 98%) since 1990 both as reported to the EPA. The useful message of course is less the recognition for UTC as one company and more the proof of the possible. We can do this and on a truly vast scale across the planet.

But having been recognized for these accomplishments, I'd like instead to take this important occasion to broaden the agenda and put forward a view recognized by some but not yet widely in the public domain nor as squarely in front of the Congress and Administration as we think it should be. It's conservation by dramatically increased efficiencies in the uses of energy. The fact is with technologies and systems already available we could arrange our planet as a greenfield site to support current living standards with half or less the input energy we consume today.

Let's go back to school for a moment and remind ourselves that energy cannot in physics be consumed or used in any final sense. Instead it's only converted into some other energy form. The trick is re-capture and re-use of energy otherwise wasted. A number that sizes the opportunity is that on study we believe more than 90% of input energy (measured in physical terms like Btu's) never ends a useful work in the sense of rotation of wheel of your car or hot air from your hair dryer. Instead, it's just wasted and typically as heat.

A primary loss is in vehicles. Isaac Newton taught us in the 17th century that the energy of deceleration is equal to and opposite to the energy of acceleration. Yet for 150 years of vehicles we have instead let the deceleration energy escape largely as heat from the braking system. Hybrids for the first time capture some of this via putting the braking energy back into the vehicle's batteries. We do the same with current generations of regenerative elevators (Otis is world market leader and a UTC company), re-capturing the energy on descent that was expended on ascent. Bottom line is elevators today with the same speeds and loads as a decade ago using 75% less energy.

The bigger loss is waste heat in electric power generation. These have energy conversion efficiencies typically in the low 30s as a percentage. Most of the balance of the input energy goes up the stack as waste heat. Which is because we can move electricity economically over long distances with modest transmission losses. But we can't move heat more than a few hundred feet. So instead move the power generation to the point of use and re-capture the otherwise waste heat for useful purposes like space heating, air conditioning, or even secondary electric power recovery. A good example is a UTC system which has been running now for over two years in a Wal-Mart store in Colorado. The prime mover at the site is 360 kilowatts of microturbines with the excess heat driving space heating and air conditioning. The result is 78% confirmed energy conversion, better than twice that in central station plants.

Another is the inefficiency in how we heat hot water across the planet today. Total energy consumption for this prosaic need is a surprising 5% of the world's energy load daily. Yet we do it as we did 5000 years ago with a pot over a flame. With an energy conversion efficiency by definition of less than one. The alternative to use established and mature heat pump technologies and products to transfer and concentrate existing heat in the surrounding atmosphere into the hot water. Because these systems use energy to move heat rather than make heat, their energy conversion efficiencies are between three and four, i.e., energy expended to energy moved.

Technology has transformed our world in countless ways and especially over the last 50 years. This energy problem can be solved. It will take a generation but we know already how to do it. And let's start with a foundation so reliable as the physics that energy cannot be consumed. There's waste everywhere, we just need to pick it up.‚Äč

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