In order to save 5 kWh, one needs to have a consumption of at least 5 kWh

wij sluiten doel

The Flemish Green Party (Groen) has a new campaign: We close Doel (Dutch). Doel being the two nuclear reactors Doel 1 and 2. The campaign itself is rather confusing, but more about that in a later post. This post will be about a puzzling statement in their FAQ that caught my attention. It is part of the answer of the question whether, ahem, “the climate needs nuclear energy”. This is the statement (my emphasis):

Nevertheless there are a lot of opportunities in Belgium to take a different approach. If 180,000 people reduce their energy use by 5 kWh during peak moments (between 6 and 7 PM), then we can achieve a savings equivalent to the capacity of Doel 1 and 2.

I heard this claim before and thought it was unrealistic anyway. But while I had no details back then, I ignored it. Now I got some more details and I could reconstruct their argument:

  • When 180,000 people abstain from using 5 kW during one hour (between 6 and 7 PM), then the total savings would amount to 900,000 kWh
  • The “between 6 and 7 PM” is important here: this is the evening peak and the highest peak for which supply should be guaranteed. If the peak is not there or is lower, then the energy infrastructure could be smaller.
  • 900,000 kW per hour is produced by a plant with a capacity of 900 MW
  • Doel 1 and 2 have both a capacity of 433 MW → together this is 866 MW (so when we have an input of 900 MW, there is even something to spare).

Voilà, if 180,000 people reduce their energy use by 5 kWh in the evening peak, Doel 1 and 2 could be closed permanently.

All nice and well. However, I see two mayor problems with this.

  1. 5 kWh is a lot in Belgium! At least for an average user. If one wants to save 5 kWh between 6 and 7 PM, it means that one generally has to consume at least 5 kWh in that period. If one for example only consumes 2 kWh, it is not possible to have a savings of 5 kWh.

    Personally, I have a rather average consumption of electricity and even my average DAILY consumption is well below 5 kWh, let alone using this amount of energy in one HOUR…

  2. Second, those 180,000 people need to do this on a long term base in order to be able to close Doel 1 and 2 permanently.

The statement that if 180,000 people reduce their energy use by 5 kWh then a savings equal to that of Doel 1 and 2 could be achieved, is in fact mathematically true. This might be an opportunity, sure, but I think that it will be a theoretical opportunity and that it has not much link with reality.


1 thought on “In order to save 5 kWh, one needs to have a consumption of at least 5 kWh

  1. poitsplace

    The sad thing is that they’re trying to force humans to do the opposite of adaptation. Instead of grabbing the world by the balls and doing what we need to do to make things work for us, they’re suggesting we return to the days when the world grabs us by the balls. Why…we could stop consuming energy entirely, stop using fire, and use almost no energy (directly) at all.

    Of course, that`s a complete load of crap. This is all pure folly…well, actually its outright insanity. The green jobs created are anti-jobs. They involve taking far more people to make the same amount of product…at a higher price. The whole thing should always be framed this way so the greens understand what they’re asking.

    Its exactly the same as going to the board room of wallmart and pitching this change…

    What if we…
    – tore down all the Walmart stores and replaced them with 6X as many smaller stores, most outside of the populated areas.
    – hire just as many per small store as we had for the large store
    – sold grossly inferior products
    – Raised prices 50%-100% (ignoring that the products are also inferior)
    – Used producers with such unstable production warehouses would have to hold MONTHS of stock
    – Used advertisements telling people to simply buy less to help with the supply problems, possibly even limiting them with a government backed rationing system.

    Now just imagine using a similar program for the backbone of modern civilization (energy infrastructure) and you quickly realize that it would be difficult to imagine ANY down sides to a small amount of warming (none of which have shown the slightest hint of happening in the real world) severe enough to make that plan workable. And that’s before you take into account the fact that such a solution simply would not work when it is managed by human beings. Like other social problems (abortion, crime, etc) the fact that we could have the option to make great choices will never change the fact that we just won’t.



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