The “Joule standard” is an initiative to start using the Joule as the standard unit for all energy types; and in this way start addressing an enormous global problem of "energy illiteracy". The world's population is highly energy illiterate; which is mainly due to the fact that we never talk about energy volumes or quantities in the correct unit for energy.
Oil is quantified in barrels, gas in cubic feet or cubic meters, coal in metric tons and electricity in watts, Mega-watts and Giga-watts, Alternative fuels in Toe and Boe’s (tonne of oil equivalent and barrel of oil equivalent); renewable energy sources like Solar and Wind power are quantified in Solar and Wind-Watt-peaks. None of those units are in fact units for energy but instead units in which the energy forms are traded.
Background The Joule standard was introduced in Indonesia through an energy education and solar awareness campaign started in June 2007 funded by Sundaya Indonesia and partly subsidized by DEG Germany. Sundaya Indonesia has for over 15 years tried to educate solar system customers about the use and energy calculations of solar systems; and found this to be extremely difficult through the traditional ways of electricity calculations using Watt and Watt-hours; and therefore started using Joule as the energy unit to bring unity between generation storage and consumption.
For energy experts a watt-hour or kilo-watt-hour is understood as a unit of energy but for the public a kilo-watt-hour is understood as a kilo-watt per hour.
Electricity calculations are very un-logic in nature; for example a lamp is stated to consume 100Watt. Every other form of consumption always includes a “per” (per certain timeframe or result); for example an average household consumes 100 liters of water per day; a car consumes 10 liter of fuel per 100 km etc.
Why is there no per in electricity consumption? Well in fact there is a “per” but it goes “undercover of Watt”; Watt is defined as Joule per second and thus when the electricity consumption of a lamp is stated as 100Watt it means in fact that it consumes 100 Joule per second.
In stand alone solar systems there is a solar panel that converts light into electric energy and the capacity of a solar panel is expressed in Watt-peak (which is a different type of watt than a "standard" watt). The generated energy is than stored in a battery and the capacity of the battery is expressed in Ampere-hour and than the electric appliances consumption is expressed in Watt. This means 3 different units in one system and thus extremely confusing. The way to create unity in a solar system has always been to convert the generation and storage side to Watt-hours but than the next big problem was faced that everybody seems to misunderstand watt-hour as watt per hour.
If watt-hour is programmed in people's minds as watt per hour than of course it will sound very strange if you say that a solar panel produces 200 Watt-hour per day; because the consumer will hear "200 watt per hour per day" and question if it is per hour or per day; it cannot be both right!
Conversion of all units to Joule suddenly made explanation very easy; A solar panel generates let's say 1 MJ per day a battery can store 5 MJ and A TV consumes 0,1MJ per hour. This is a very logic way to quantify the capacity of a system; simply by using the unit of energy that has been standardized already over 100 years ago.
Advantages of the Joule standard The great advantage of the Joule standard is that we learn to think in one common energy unit and in that way become energy literate in the same way as we have become length and weight literate.
Imagine a person of 2,5 meter tall and with a body weight of 40 kg; you for sure will be able to visualize this person's body-shape which means that you are weight and length literate. Most people around the world are weight and length literate because the same units for measurement of length and weight are used for many kinds of comodities and things. (you dont use a differnt unit for measuring a length of a table than you do for the height of a door or the height of your body). The same for weighing goods like apples, pears, bananas and building materials like cement and paint which are always measured in the same units. And that fact has made us weight and length literate and thus we can expect that everybody can become energy literate when all forms of energy are expressed in the same unit of energy.
Most people have absolutely no clue about how a liter or gallon of fuel compares to a kWh of electricty because they are completely different forms of energy. But we would be very well able to compare them if they were experessed in the same unit.
Where can the Joule standard be applied In electricty Generation industry: In today's electricty generation industry there are many types of generators; coal, gas and oil fired plants; nuclear and hydro power plants and more and more renewable energy sources like solar, wind, tidal and wave energy are added to this list. The big difference between big coal fired and alternative electric energy generators is that alternative energy generators produce energy depending on ambient circumstances which cannot be controlled but can be predicted over longer periods. In today's electricity industry coal-power station capacities in MW (MegaWatts) are shamelessly added up with MW of solar and MW of Windpower; while the solar and wind watt peaks are totaly different units and cannot be justed added up as if they were the same.
In electricty Storage industry: In today's electricty storage industry like batteries we see advertising campaigns claiming that one brand battery lasts longer; much longer than other brand products; but no real data are given to proof those claims. For rechargable products the units Ah and mAh(Ah = Ampere-hour)are stated on the product but a same Ah number at different voltage means a different energy amount; and thus introducing Joule as the unit of energy to express how much energy in fact a certain elctricity storage contains will be a great improvement. In fact consumer protection agencies should get it enforced the energy content is mention on battery products because that is the most important property of a battery.
In electricty Consumer product industry: In today's electricty consumer product industry all devices are only labeled with information in Watt which means how much energy is consumed per second (Watt = Joule per second) while most devices do not have a constant energy consumption over time. Most Audio,Video and Computer equipment have a very irratic energy consumption (it jumps up and down depending on the picture, the music you play or the programs and activities on your computer). The label on those electric devices only say something about the maximum and thus say very little about the energy consumption over a period of time. Refrigerators and airconditioners etc switch on and off all the time and thus the energy consumption of those devices cannot be known from the label that states an amount in Watt. What we need to know is energy consumption per hour, day, month or year depending on the nature of the equipemnt. Again consumer protection agencies should get it enforced that energy consumption of devices is mentioned in Joule per hour, day, month, year of use; because the amount of energy we consume is what we pay; not the wattage!
In burning fuel industry: In today's fuel industry many new fuels are appearing on the market but every different type of fuel has in fact a different energy content and what you really need from a fuel is the energy that it contains not the volume in liters or gallons. A liter of "fossil" diesel contains for example 38,7 MJ per liter and a liter of Bio-Diesel only 30,5 MJ per liter. If you change from fossil to Bio-Diesel don't be surprised to consume up to 25% more liters. Gasoline contains 34,7 MJ per liter and ethanol only 20.5 MJ per liter and thus any mixture of the two will be lower than 34,7MJ per liter. Consumer protection agencies should be aware of this and it should be enforced that oil companies start mentioning their energy content of their various products and maybe even base the price per MJ.
In transport industry: In today's transport industry many manufacturers do not mention what the energy consumption is of their vehicles; and those that do give numbers; those are not really a fair numbers because different types of cars run on different types of fuel with different types of energy content. The most important information about energy efficiency of a certain vehicle is how many MJ's it consumes per km (or mile) and especialy now when we are getting more and more hybrid type of vehicles that consume both electricty which you can charged at home and fuel that you have to fill at a fuel station it is important to know how much energy is consumed.
In the world's energy balance sheet: More and more people and industry leaders are openly admitting that the world is heading for an enormous energy crisis; and what is the first thing to do in a crisis? Make up a balance sheet; how do energy experts make up the energy balance sheet...? Everybody in their own units and so it is high time to convert everything to one unit sothat we can make up a clear overview of what we have available and what we should focus on to avoid deepening of the energy crisis. Again the Joule Standard brings the solution.