Fuel economy

28 February 2008

Energy will remain one of the major global concerns for the foreseeable future. Global energy consumption is projected to grow 57% between 2004 and 2030, according to a report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The United States, China and India together account for nearly half of the projected growth in fossil fuel and other liquid fuel use.

In the US fossil fuels constitute 86% of the energy mix. Prices, however, can be expected to escalate as competition for these resources grows increasingly fierce. Although the world's supply of fossil fuels is vast, much of the supply comes from unstable countries and regions. A dependency on foreign oil poses a risk to the economic and national security of many nations.

Transportation relies heavily on crude oil, 60% of which is imported in the US. New engine technologies and vehicle design already are producing significant energy benefits. In many nations, however, the benefits of these developments have been eroded by increased congestion, changes in driver behaviour and additional amenities in vehicles.

The need for energy efficiency extends beyond transportation. Indeed, electricity use in the household and service sectors is increasing much more rapidly than consumption of fuels, such as gas and oil, in these sectors. Households and businesses benefit from Energy Star, a joint programme of the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy that helps save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices.

Results are already adding up. Americans, with the help of Energy Star, saved enough energy in 2006 alone to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 25 million cars - all while saving US$14 billion on their utility bills. Also in 2006, the US and EU renewed their agreement to harmonise work and specifications on Energy Star office equipment.

In addition, higher fossil fuel prices, energy security concerns, improved reactor designs and environmental considerations are expected to improve prospects for nuclear power capacity in many part of the world. A number of countries are likely to build new nuclear plants, according to the EIA report.

Declines in nuclear capacity are projected only in Europe, where several countries, including Germany and Belgium, have either plans or mandates to phase out nuclear power, and where some old reactors are expected to be retired and not replaced.

The key to creating a new generation of nuclear plants anywhere is winning over public opinion. Nuclear energy has long been viewed with unease, and concerns linger concerning safety, proliferation and waste.

To maintain a strong economy and boost jobs and competitiveness, countries will need to increase their energy supply from all sources - oil, gas, coal, nuclear, and alternative fuels and technologies. There also will be growing pressure to preserve and improve the environment through greater efficiency, technology-based solutions, and the sound management of global climate change. In addition, countries will need to expand their fuel and power generation and delivery systems.

SC&RA members in 46 countries stand prepared to help meet these challenges. Almost anywhere new power plants are built or old ones modernised, our Transportation Group members will be readily available to move the oversize and/or overweight equipment onto the work site. Our Crane & Rigging Group members then will be instrumental in the installation of the new equipment and, in some cases, removal of the old equipment. Both groups will emphasise safety every step of the way.

At the same time, SC&RA will continue to help members explore possibilities for using energy in a more efficient and environmentally responsible way. Besides giving us all reasons to be proud, these efforts also can contribute to overall profitability.

Successful efforts to reduce fuel consumption by reducing the weight of equipment, using more efficient engines, or improved routing practices can pay substantial dividends. Even a small step like keeping tyres inflated properly to improve mileage can enhance profits.

Working together, we can make a big difference.

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