Green Energy Education Takes One Step Forward and Three Back

News / June 30, 2009

Alistair Owens
Just when we thought we understood how to save the planet a bombshell emerges which turns the ethos on its head. Digital radio has me greatly concerned. It is difficult to mount a science based renewable energy educational programme to children and adults on the need to reduce power consumption when the science of digital radio goes completely the other way.

In the not too distant future we all have to throw our perfectly serviceable analogue radios in the skip. The reason; we have to convert to using digital radio receivers to continue to listen to the radio stations we currently know. Granted digital is more versatile, able to tell you the name of the artist and song title being played rather than relying on the disc jockey. But then an energy shock emerges as digital radio uses four times the power to work. Alarmingly they also use batteries at six times the rate of the equivalent analogue radio. Maybe in years to come the efficiency will improve but it is a colossal gap to close.

We will fill landfill sites with vast quantities of perfectly serviceable analogue radios. The energy cost to manufacture digital replacements exacerbating the issue. And then we switch over to a unit that uses power at four times the rate and continue to add to the landfill problem with six times the number of batteries. The batteries should also be recycled but councils don’t want to collect them in normal recycling collections and their small size makes it all too easy to chuck them in the bin.

This is a tricky benchmark against which green energy education takes a severe knock.  Children probably relate to radios more than any other device and the contradiction of new digital technology could easily confuse or dispel the enthusiasm for the larger issues. The solution in addition to  production and design developments to reduce the power demand would the inclusion of solar photo voltaic cells in the sets.

This is a shot in the foot for the green energy team, and not of their making. It is a knock that needs addressing if it is not to suppress other initiatives and create apathy. In the meantime does anyone else have frequent changes radio signal strength? My digital radio starts the day with 80% signal strength but as the day wears on it drops to 10% and lower. The music then proceeds to make all the warbling and fluttering noises it was heralded to remove. Or am I just a Luddite looking for excuses! No it’s a rhetorical question – no need to scratch around for the email address!

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