You probably know what a watt is. It's a unit of power. Old, inefficient incandescent light bulbs were rated by how many watts they used (e.g., 60 watts, 70 watts, or 100 watts).
A kilowatt is 1000 watts, a megawatt is 1000 kilowatts, and a gigawatt is 1000 megawatts. But what in the world is a negawatt?
A negawatt is a term coined by former Zayed Future Energy Prize finalist Amory Lovins, chairman and chief scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute. It represents a watt of energy that you have not used through energy conservation or the use of energy-efficient products.
A tremendous amount of energy is wasted every day all around the world. If we are going to tackle global warming, air pollution, water pollution, and energy poverty, it is absolutely critical that we tackle the issue of energy waste and become much, much more efficient. The US wastes 61% to 86% of the energy it generates. In other words, it wastes more of the energy that it generates than it actually uses. And that’s without taking into account energy wasted in homes and businesses! The US may "lead" the world in that category, but other countries also waste a great deal of energy. Energy waste needs to be cut all around the world.
We need a lot of renewable energy in order to turn off dirty energy and cut global warming emissions. But we also really need to stop wasting energy in order to cut these emissions. I think that putting energy savings in terms of negawatts helps people to better understand the value of energy efficiency and energy conservation. Hopefully it will help us save more energy all along the value chain. Clever thinking by Lovins.
Image Credit: Green Alliance