The damage to our planet and subsequent impact on our climate is rapidly increasing. If we don’t act quickly to enable a green recovery, the planet, and all life as we know it will be irreversibly damaged by rising temperatures. If we don’t take action, the earth is expected to be 4.1°C – 4.8°C warmer by the end of the century.
The UK government has put in place ambitious sustainability targets but do businesses and local authorities understand the steps and changes they need to implement, to ensure they are on track to meet the targets?
The solution to achieving a greener future isn’t limited to product or technology. In fact, we need to think about education and changing cultural attitudes to acknowledge that we are all responsible and that we all need to take ownership of our energy consumption.
Re-thinking our relationship with the energy that powers our lives, which is responsible for over 80% of current carbon emissions, will enable us to understand where there is opportunity to retrofit and upgrade existing infrastructures. Cities across the UK are playing their part to become smart cities. Businesses and grid also need to become smarter. And homes need to commit to becoming more sustainable too. We firmly believe a world that is more electric and more digital is going to pave the way for a better future, at Schneider we call this Electricity 4.0.
In a race against time, electricity offers the fastest, safest, and most cost-effective way to decarbonize our societies. From a practical perspective, in the developed world the means to distribute electricity already exists. Renewables that extract electricity from unlimited sources (i.e. sun, wind or water), represent an opportunity to produce electricity without any carbon emissions. Decentralized by nature, they also offer solutions for localized resiliency and cost-effectiveness issues. Renewables have already reached a tipping point where they are also the most economical source of electricity in most regions of the world. This provides some clear advantages in comparison to other alternative fuels such as hydrogen, that would need an infrastructure to be deployed at scale to our homes, offices and public spaces.
Whilst electricity may not be the answer to every challenge (heavy industry, long distance travel), it is a proven energy source which can be generated cleanly and cheaply with continued investment in renewables such as solar, wind and hydro.
- Solar and wind powered renewable energy is already 50% cheaper than electricity from fossil fuels
- Electricity generation from renewables is 100% efficient with just 5-10% lost in transmission vs 60% loss/waste in energy produced from fossil fuels. At the same time, there is an enormous 70% round trip inefficiency in the production of new potential energy sources such as green hydrogen.
Practical steps businesses can take
Digital and electric sustainability tech ticks the all-important boxes of: efficiency, safety, measurable outcomes, and the speed at which such solutions can be scaled and deployed. Most importantly, it allows us to bring consumers, small and large businesses along on the decarbonization journey giving them more choice and control when it comes to the sustainability of their homes, offices, and cities.
Technologies that businesses can deploy to become more digital, more sustainable and faster in decarbonization continue to advance rapidly. Here are a few examples:
- Digital solution can help to enhance efficiency across your building portfolio along the entire building lifecycle
- Advanced microgrid & energy storage solution help to integrate onsite renewable and optimize your sites energy footprint
- Integrated eMobility solutions enable an efficient, resilient and sustainable mobility for company fleets
- IoT-enabled industry automation can help gain efficiency across a variety of manufacturing contexts
Businesses should also consider how much energy is being wasted and poorly managed around us on a daily basis. This London skyline time-lapse video demonstrates just how much energy is wasted every day– yet this energy waste is completely avoidable if we manage energy better.
Reduce energy waste for a sustainable future
Public-private partnerships must lead the way
Governments must do more to help businesses and consumers shift to green alternatives, including greening companies such BP and Shell. As governments act to reboot post-pandemic economies, business has a once in a lifetime opportunity to tackle climate change at the same time, enabling a green recovery. However, we must act quickly and responsibly, investing in environmental solutions that will improve the way we live, enable access to energy for all, and level the playing field when it comes to opportunity.
Enabled through digital, businesses can start addressing one of the most challenging ESG matters: tracking and reducing their Scope 3 indirect emissions, such as transportation and distribution.
- Digitally, we need to bridge the gap between where businesses are today and where they need to be, without the business collapsing. A strong partner is essential to ensure businesses are making smart choices
- Education is fundamental to ensure culturally we are working collaboratively, everyone within the business is responsible for the future.
Electricity powered by renewables and enabled through digital technology can’t solve all of the climate challenges we face, but it will help us make significant progress and move faster.
If you’re interested in hearing more, join Kelly Becker, Schneider Electric’s President UK&I on June 14 for the keynote opening session of the CBI conference: Road to Net-Zero, as she joins CBI Director-General Tony Danker, and McKinsey to discuss the future of our planet and the roadmap to reaching net-zero.