Blog: Can energy managers learn from the Curiosity rover?

Fly a shuttle to Mars and play music back from outer space? No problem. Can we cut our energy use with the same impressive execution? Can we heck! In the same […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Fly a shuttle to Mars and play music back from outer space? No problem. Can we cut our energy use with the same impressive execution? Can we heck!

In the same week the Curiosity rover pinged a dreadful pop track by will.i.am back to Earth from Mars, came the death of the man who took one giant leap for mankind.

Obituaries over the weekend said Neil Armstrong was modest and committed to doing his duty. The man himself made very little of his fame and called himself simply a “nerdy engineer”.

But deep down we all knew Armstrong was a true hero showing great courage and determination. You’d have to be, when you think about the precision, planning, downright efficiency which must have gone into getting the first man to walk on the moon.

In that ground-breaking effort and all subsequent trips into the breath-taking beyond, waste was a luxury man could ill afford. Closer to home, the grandmotherly adage ‘waste not, want not’ appears to be easier said than done.

Monumental space achievements came about because of clear policy and commitment to the cause – but back on Earth, British policy makers can’t even make up their mind how they want to encourage the simplest of things: energy efficiency.

Policies like the CRC Energy Efficiency scheme are a case in point – first it was a carrot, with rich pickings for firms to save energy; abruptly, it became a big fat stick.

But then, why should firms need the stick in the first place? You hear stories of firms trying to cheat the system too, by holding off on efficiency measures so their efforts look better year on year.

That’s not going to help the UK achieve its ambitious energy cutting targets.

When you look at what a concerted effort can achieve, like that of Armstrong and his companions in Apollo 11, that just seems pathetic.