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The Low Carbon Economy Ltd

01 Dec 2008 05:12:32

Dissipated heat could negate carbon cuts

Dissipated heat could negate carbon cuts
Even if carbon emissions are brought into check, it could still be necessary to restrict energy use in order to prevent climate change, according to a new report.

Scientists at the School of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering at Newcastle University, claim that heat dissipated into the environment from the energy use could end up contributing to heating the planet to dangerous levels.

The study by Nick Cowern and Chihak Ahn claimed that if energy use increases at one per cent per year – below current growth rates – by 2100 the amount of heat emitted by energy users such as gadgets, power plants and data centres could end up negating the effect of cutting back on carbon emissions.

With this in mind the heat creation of energy technologies should be taken into account alongside carbon dioxide emissions.

While nuclear power is a low carbon emitter, it involves using energy that has been "locked away" and so adds to the problem of waste heat. By contrast solar technology simply harnesses energy that is already in the environment.

They also warn that solar panels can actually contribute to heat dissipation by reflecting heat that the earth would otherwise absorb and recommend designing photovoltaic panels that reduce waste heat such as wide-bandgap solar panels

According to environmental campaigners, an increase of two degrees in global temperatures would lead to dangerous climate change.



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