Connect with us

Energy

UK Companies Missing out on Business Benefits of Switch to Renewable Power

Published

on

The report, Business and the Renewables Revolution, reveals that switching to renewable power is the quickest and most cost-effective way for most organisations to cut their carbon footprint, it adds less than 1% to power bills, and it responds to increasing demand from customers, investors, and politicians.

However, while 74% of the UK’s 100 biggest companies have set carbon-cutting targets, only 38% of the FTSE 100 purchased renewable electricity in 2015, according to carbon management consultancy Carbon Clear.

Robert Groves, CEO of SmartestEnergy, said: “Smart companies should rethink their energy supply and understand the benefits that switching to renewables can bring to their business, to the economy, and to tackling the global threat of climate change.”

Confusion over buying renewable electricity has held business back, according to a report from the Aldersgate Group, which represents companies with a collective turnover of over £300 billion. It called for clear labelling of the carbon content of electricity and calculated that the measure could see low-carbon power provide nearly half of all industrial and commercial demand by 2020, up from 14.4% to 48.3%.

In response to this business demand, SmartestEnergy has developed a suite of 100% renewable products with the UK’s first energy labels clearly stating the source and carbon content of electricity.

Richard Tarboton, Energy Optimisation, Executive Director, at EY, was part of the team which produced the Aldersgate report. In the foreword to Business and the Renewables Revolution he writes: “Companies want to do the right thing but need clear solutions. Energy labelling, coupled with a greater awareness of the low cost and business benefits of renewable power, are set to take it mainstream. And the greater the demand from business the more we will see investment flow from fossil fuel generators to low-carbon renewables.”

Business benefits of switching to renewable electricity

Business and the Renewables Revolution sets out significant business benefits which give companies scope to more than recoup the minimal extra cost of buying renewable electricity.

Cuts carbon footprint quickly and cost-effectively. Thanks to a change in guidelines, companies can now count the renewable electricity they purchase against their carbon targets and make major reductions in the emissions they report.

Builds investor confidence and supports company valuations. Buying renewable demonstrates that an organisation is aligned with the drive towards a low-carbon economy. A £352 billion coalition of investors, including Aviva, one of the UK’s largest insurers, is specifically calling on businesses to commit to 100% renewable electricity.

Helps win customers. A survey of 1,000 UK consumers found that almost four out of five people (77%) were more likely to buy from a consumer brand with a positive approach to sustainability and two thirds would recommend a brand because it either invested in its own renewable energy projects or bought most of its energy from renewable sources.

Supports employee engagement on money saving energy efficiency programmes. Many organisations can save up to 10% on energy costs by investing 1-2% of energy spend on an effective employee engagement campaign, according to the Carbon Trust. Buying renewable electricity demonstrates corporate commitment and can form the centrepiece of an internal campaign.

Business can make a big impact by switching to renewable power

Business uses more than 56% of all power generated in the UK so it has a major role to play in meeting national climate change commitments. The government aims to generate 30% of electricity from renewables by 2020, up from 23.5% today , but PwC has warned that to meet binding carbon targets the UK may need to source up to half its electricity from renewables by 2020.

In the UK, SmartestEnergy customers purchasing renewable energy already account for 2.8% of all industrial and commercial electricity demand. The 4.2 terawatt hours of clean power they purchased in 2015 avoided 2.24 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to taking nearly one and a half million cars off the road.

Climate change is the biggest threat to the global economy, according to the latest Global Risks report, a survey of nearly 750 experts conducted by the World Economic Forum. Private sector electricity consumption is responsible for 15% of the world’s carbon emissions, and in the wake of the Paris Climate Summit business is under pressure as never before to support the drive to a low-carbon economy.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called on global business leaders to double investment in wind and solar energy to $600 billion a year by 2020, telling them to act decisively to hasten the transition to a low-carbon economy.

More than 400 investors with $24 trillion in assets have pledged to work with companies they invest in to minimise climate risks and to seek out opportunities to invest in renewable energy.

Apple, Nike and BMW are among dozens of global brands from a wide range of sectors who have pledged to power all their activities from renewables, in a global trend which is gathering momentum.

Economy

New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035

Published

on

renewable energy policy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Eviart / https://www.shutterstock.com/g/adrian825

New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.

New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.

Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.

Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”

The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.

Zero net emissions by 2050

Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.

Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.

She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.

Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”

A worldwide shift to renewable energy

Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.

Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.

Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.

Sources: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-06/green-dream-risks-energy-security-as-kiwis-aim-for-zero-carbon

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-hydrocarbons/france-plans-to-end-oil-and-gas-production-by-2040-idUSKCN1BH1AQ

Continue Reading

Energy

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable

Published

on

By

sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Facebook

Trending