Along with a myriad of other domestic and global issues, the US election is also a gamechanger for environmental impact. On Wednesday 4th November, America formally left the Paris Agreement – a global action group on climate change. While the US’ future in regard to climate action still hangs in the balance, other major world economies must increase their pace of change if they want to reach Net Zero.
Net Zero refers to a point when the amount of carbon dioxide we add into the atmosphere stops exceeding the amount we take away. This can be achieved through carbon reduction such as using renewable energy sources like wind or solar, but also through offsetting our impact by, for example, tree-planting initiatives and implementing carbon-capture technologies.
This year the UK reached a significant two-month no-coal milestone as energy consumption dropped dramatically post-lockdown in a sunny, windy late Spring. Albeit it was an unprecedented and extreme example of energy demand dropping, the context of which we wouldn’t want to repeat, it was a hugely positive time for the planet. We should all be looking at how we can contribute to lowering the UK’s emissions and support the UK’s goal of reaching Net Zero by 2050.
The responsibility for change spans from how energy suppliers source and deliver their energy to how businesses and individual households can adopt hugely exciting technologies to reduce their carbon footprint. Smart, increasingly affordable technologies such as vehicle-to-grid charging and smart heat-pumps mean in some cases consumers can actually produce and store energy to ease demand on the grid and reduce reliance on ‘dirty’ energy sources such as coal.
Millions of UK households have switched to renewable energy suppliers in the past few years, with more agile suppliers proving that greener energy isn’t affordable and accessible at scale. Transport also accounts for a huge portion of our carbon emissions in the UK, although with compelling government incentives, sales of hybrid and battery electric vehicles also continue to rise.
Solar power currently accounts for just 5% of the UKs energy capacity, and government figures released this week show that solar capacity is slowing in the UK – with installations of domestic panels at a low. While the government is investing in wind power generation, we must also embrace the opportunity that cheap solar energy offers the UK as part of the mission to reach Net Zero. We need to triple capacity in the next 10 years to stay on target.
Energy ecosystems can seem complicated – and to many people opaque – and that’s why it’s so important that the media continues to champion the fantastic British companies simplifying, democratising and automating green technologies, so consumers and businesses can reduce their carbon footprint.
The Utility Week conference is running online later this month, with the focus turning not only to energy efficiency from a supplier operations standpoint, but more broadly how the utilities ecosystem can work together to address the 2050 net zero targets – we’ll be keeping a close eye on the discussions.