Nulux creates and delivers solutions for you to manage and optimise your energy usage. Our energy saving solutions allow you to achieve the same outcomes consuming less energy. Our smart metering and monitoring solutions bring all the information you need to manage your energy usage to your desktop. Our switching and control solutions give you better and more reliable energy infrastructure. We save you energy and save you money.
People often ask us:
- why is energy management so important in today’s world?
- how is the Nulux approach relevant in a world where we are rapidly moving to renewable energy?
For most of human history energy in all its forms has been of little concern. Our ancestors huddled around a fire to keep warm in winter and perhaps used a candle or a whale oil lantern to read at night. Transportation was powered by horses or wind or – most often – achieved through the use of our own two feet.
In the last hundred years there has been a massive shift in the focus of our civilisation toward energy and its consumption. Thomas Edison created the first practical electrical light in 1879 and, over the next decades, invented the system of electrical utilities to power it. In doing so Edison let the genie out of the bottle.
With electrical energy on tap, electric motors came to be adopted for household, industrial and commercial tasks in the early 20th century. Electric lifts, household appliances such as vacuum cleaners and cookers and electric motor-driven industrial equipment had all achieved widespread usage by the 1920s. The 1940s and 50s saw the rebuilding of industry after WW2, commercialisation of television, the 60s and 70s the roll out of computers. Most recently we have the digital revolution of the 1990s and the 21st century. With these developments there has been a staggering ten fold increase in global energy consumption in the last 100 years.
A world without energy on tap has become unthinkable. We have become addicted to energy consumption.
The steep rise in recent decades reflects more people becoming heavy energy users with the industrialisation of China and other nations. It is not likely to flatten any time soon unless world economic development stalls.
With the explosion in energy usage has come a growing realisation that our sources of energy are finite and many of these are damaging our planet.
Many people look at the chart above and say “Hey, where are the renewables?”. You have to look hard to find the green sector at the top of the chart which is about 1% of the total. How do you reconcile that with the International Energy Agency statement that:
In 2012, the world relied on renewable sources for around 13.2% of its total primary energy supply.
That 13% includes hydro-electricity and many biofuels which are shown in other areas of the chart above. The sources that we in Australia commonly associate with “renewables” are solar, wind and to a lesser extent geothermal. These are great technologies to focus on as they are capable of significant growth. Sites for new hydro-electric power generation are limited and sometimes cause their own environmental damage. The capacity for biofuels is constrained by the priority to use most of the world’s arable land for food.
Let’s look more closely at the contribution of these forms of renewable energy to world energy usage in recent years. Much of the published data looks encouraging – for example, looking up solar photovoltaic and wind energy on Wikipedia we see the following charts, which look pretty good.
Let’s convert those to the same units we are using in our first chart so we are comparing apples with apples. In 2015 the world has capacity of approximately 240 Gigawatts of solar PV and 430 Gigawatts of wind power. Now capacity doesn’t equal production for these renewables as their output is intermittent. The Gigawatts shown above represents the total output if the solar or wind units are operating at full efficiency. Therefore to convert 240GW of solar capacity to actual energy output we need to estimate the number of hours per year the units operate. Around 2,000 hours per year of equivalent full output for solar is a reasonable figure. Wind turbine output depends upon location but 4,000 hours equivalent full output is pretty generous.
Therefore solar PV produces a little less than 2 Exajoules per year in today’s world and wind power around 6 Exajoules. Solar and wind renewables account for 1.3% of world energy usage, not 13%! Let’s not fool ourselves – these sources are growing rapidly but from a much lower base than is commonly assumed. Sure, these renewables make up a more significant part of Australia’s energy mix but as far as the whole planet is concerned we have a long, long way to go. Certainly we should invest further in these renewable sources but let’s be aware that there is another way to reduce the environmental damage.
The cheapest and least polluting form of energy is the energy we don’t use.
Advances in technology allow us to complete the same tasks using less energy – whether it is increased fuel efficiency in vehicles or increased efficiency of electrical devices. Moreover, the economic benefits of using technology to reduce energy consumption can be highly attractive – returns on investment of 20% to 50% per annum or even more are commonly achieved. With the right expertise making investments in energy saving is not a ‘shot in the dark’. The energy and economic savings are predictable and quantifiable before you make your investment.
Many people view reducing energy consumption as a compliance and cost issue. The Nulux approach makes it a major profit centre.
Nulux combines strong technical capabilities in energy saving and energy infrastructure with financial skills and a commercial attitude. That enables us to deliver solutions for our customers which enhance the bottom line or achieve more for every available budget dollar.
See the key technologies we work with here.
See more about our research and development here.