5 Waste Energy Examples Explained

Waste energy examples are; unused electricity, heat emissions during electricity generation, un-recycled waste materials, unmaintained internal temperature, and mismanaged energy resources.

This article discusses waste energy examples, as follows;


1). Unused Electricity (as one of the Waste Energy Examples)

Unused electricity is a common example of waste energy.

It is also very significant, due to the large scale of dependence on electric power for domestic, industrial and commercial purposes.

Electricity is unused when transmitted into appliances or systems that are not actively being used.

Appliances like refrigerators, light bulbs, thermostats, and washing machines are among those which serve as outlets for energy wastage. Leaving such appliances on without use, leads to unfavorable effects on the environment and economy, by raising the cost of electricity, and increasing the emission of greenhouse gases from power plants and electric generators.

Efforts to control energy losses in the form of unused electricity have been the focus of sustainable development and related concepts like energy conservation and energy efficiency.

Energy conservation aims to minimize waste energy by consciously controlling the rate at which energy is consumed, as well as the potential outlets for energy loss.

On the other hand, energy efficiency is focused on developing methods, systems and appliances that can perform more work with less energy [6].

The goal of preventing electricity wastage has also led to the development and advancement of sustainable technologies like smart grid, artificial intelligence and smart house development. These technologies are all equipped to monitor and regulate the use of power.


2). Heat Emissions during Electricity Generation

According to the principle of electromagnetism, electricity generation involves the conversion of chemical, heat or kinetic energy to mechanical energy that is used to move a conductor in a magnetic field [1].

Because of the numerous energy conversions that are required to generate electricity, the likelihood of producing waste energy is high.

Usually, energy is wasted in the form of heat, which can be produced by friction, fuel combustion, photoelectric deflections, electrochemical reactions, or biochemical processes.

Friction occurs in turbine systems and wave power converters, photoelectric deflection is common with solar panels, electrochemical reactions occur in hydrogen fuel cells, while biochemical processes are linked to bioenergy systems.

Heat which is emitted in the processes listed above, is lost to the environment, without being used to generate electricity. This can account for a good portion of economic losses that are incurred in the process of generating power.

Transmission and distribution systems can also lose energy, although this is not always in the form of heat (energy may be lost as charges by conduction).

Heat emissions in the process of generating electricity, have been the focus of energy recovery measures that include cogeneration and other heat capture mechanisms [5].

The reduction of waste energy in electric systems may be achieved by optimizing the conversion process, reducing potential heat outlets, and providing facilities to capture and utilize the waste heat.

Waste Energy Examples: Heat Emissions during Electricity Generation (Credit: Korina T. 2014 .CC BY-SA 4.0.)
Waste Energy Examples: Heat Emissions during Electricity Generation (Credit: Korina T. 2014 .CC BY-SA 4.0.)


3). Un-recycled Waste Materials (as one of the Waste Energy Examples)

Recycling is a known method of energy recovery [2], whereby energy wastage is prevented by converting used materials into valuable resources that can be put to further use.

When organic and inorganic materials or products are discarded as waste, the energy used to extract, process and manufacture them, as well as that which is contained in them, is wasted.

By recycling materials like plastics, we prevent the wastage of bioenergy in the organic molecules that make up these plastics, as well as the energy that could be expended to extract and process raw materials in order to manufacture new plastic products.

Organic waste (biomass) cannot be recycled and reused like inorganic waste. However, it may be transformed to useful bioenergy in the form of direct heat or biofuel; through waste-to-energy conversion processes like anaerobic digestion, gasification and pyrolysis [4].

In sustainable farming, waste energy can be minimized by using agricultural residue to produce useful fuel or fertilizer by compositing.


4). Unmaintained Internal Temperature

Internal temperature regulation indicates that energy is being conserved in a system without excessive losses to the external environment.

In buildings, poor maintenance of internal temperature leads to the emission of waste energy.

This is especially important where there is significant difference between internal and external temperature conditions. Unmaintained internal temperature can lead to the unnecessary expenditure of energy for heating and cooling purposes.

In natural ecosystems, poor regulation of internal temperature leads to significant bioenergy losses across all levels of the energy pyramid.

Mitigating this problem in buildings requires measures and facilities like heat capture, cogeneration and insulation [3] [7].


5). Mismanaged Energy Resources (as one of the Waste Energy Examples)

When energy resources are mismanaged, it leads to the loss of energy.

This includes fossil fuels, geothermal fluid, solar heat, and biomass.

Processes that may cause the mismanagement of these resources include spillage, deflection, fluid cooling, and open biodegradation.



Waste energy examples are;

1. Unused Electricity

2. Heat Emissions during Electricity Generation

3. Un-recycled Waste Materials

4. Unmaintained Internal Temperature

5. Mismanaged Energy Resources



1). Bhadra, G. P. (2019). “Energy Harvesting From Water Wave Using Electromagnetic Generator.” Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/357955614_Energy_Harvesting_From_Water_Wave_Using_Electromagnetic_Generator_Submitted_By. (Accessed 21 September 2022).

2). Dadhich, P. (2016). “Energy Recovery from Waste – Factsheet.” Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330577722_Energy_Recovery_from_Waste_-_Factsheet. (Accessed 21 September 2022).

3). Khan, K. H.; Rasul, M.; Khan, M. K. (2004). “Energy conservation in buildings: Cogeneration and cogeneration coupled with thermal energy storage.” Applied Energy 77(1):15-34. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0306-2619(03)00100-4. (Accessed 21 September 2022).

4). Lee, S. Y.; Sankaran, R.; Wayne, C. K.; Tan, C. H.; Rambabu, K.; Chu, D.; Show, P. (2019). “Waste to bioenergy: a review on the recent conversion technologies.” BMC Energy 1(1). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1186/s42500-019-0004-7. (Accessed 21 September 2022).

5). Oyewunmi, O.; Pantaleo, A. M.; Markides, C. N. (2017). “ORC cogeneration systems in waste-heat recovery applications.” Energy Procedia 142. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.egypro.2017.12.557. (Accessed 21 September 2022).

6). Radzi, F.; Hassan, M. S. (2021). “Energy Efficiency and Sustainability.” Affordable and Clean Energy (pp.392-402). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-95864-4_15. (Accessed 21 September 2022).

7). Song, J. (2019). “Understanding and Practice of Room Temperature Control Method Based on Energy Saving Reconstruction of Public Buildings.” IOP Conference Series Earth and Environmental Science 310(3):032077. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1088/1755-1315/310/3/032077. (Accessed 21 September 2022).

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