What is Power?
Useful energy is a term used to refer to the “energy services” that we gain from energy. Often we put focus on energy production and the infrastructure, but ultimately energy enables humans to do things we would not be able to do otherwise. It enables productivity and comfort. For these reasons, energy access enhances quality of life and enables development.
Ultimately, our entire energy system exists to provide us with just a handful of key energy services that allow us to do many day-to-day activities:
- Heating and Cooling – heating and cooling are crucial energy services for the health, wellbeing and comfort of populations globally. Maintaining livable temperatures is necessary for human survival particularly in places with extreme temperatures. In addition, heat is necessary for cooking and sanitation. Globally over 2 Billion do not have clean cooking facilities and must burn biomass or kerosene to cook which leads to respiratory problems and fire concerns.
- Light – it may seem obvious but light is crucial for human productivity. Light enables people to work long after the sun has set and provides safety. Globally, 1.2 Billion people lack access to electricity.
- Power – power enables the use of many products and appliances that make our lives easier and more productive. Take for example the internet or cell phones. Both of these are not possible with out electricity to power them and lead to massive advances in productivity. The ability to communicate easily is also something many of us take for granted but energy ultimately makes it possible.
- Transportation – being able to move ourselves or our goods from point a to point b in another productivity enabler. Ease of this kind of transportation allows us to conduct business, eat foods that are not growable in our region, and save large amounts of time.
- Products – almost all of the things we wear, foods we eat, and items in our homes were made possible by energy. Manufacturing and agriculture are heavily reliant on energy.
It is important to note that there is much debate about the best way for energy to enable all the services listed above, but ultimately energy is a very “human” system that enables us to live our lives.