What the Nobel Prize Winners in Physics Means for the Energy Sector
The energy sector is always trying to make everything as efficient as possible, from solar panels to smart grids. Perhaps the most relatable way energy efficiency could be understood is via the light bulb.
This year’s Nobel Prize winners for physics were recognized for making a major breakthrough in LED technology. Japanese scientists Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano and American scientist Shuji Nakamura invented blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which is an efficient and energy-friendly light source. Though the technology is fairly new at around 20 years old, it’s had a major impact on a variety of industries.
Until the 1990s, scientists had struggled to produce the technology. Their breakthrough paved the way for LED lights, which are now a staple in the modern world because of their energy efficiency and long lifespan.
“They succeeded where everyone else had failed,” the Nobel committee said. “Incandescent light bulbs lit the 20th century; the 21st century will be lit by LED lamps.”
Akasaki, 85, is a professor at Meijo University and distinguished professor at Nagoya University. Amano, 54, is also a professor at Nagoya University, while the 60-year-old Nakamura is a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Enough can’t be said about the importance of energy efficiency when it comes to something as simple as lighting. More efficient lighting leads to less stress on the grid and allows for power to be better balanced. Without LED technology, the energy sector might not be where it is today.
So, when you turn the lights in your home or elsewhere on, be sure to think of these three Nobel laureates.
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.