In the previous segment of our Opportunities & Challenges In The Energy Sector 2023 series, we discussed the ways technology has been helping individuals in their home combat rising energy prices and promote better fuel efficiency; and now we’ll be taking the discussion a step further by looking at renewables and energy for businesses.
As part of the UK’s pledge to become net zero by 2050, the Government has made £5 billion available in grants for businesses to help them become more green, alongside additional schemes to help companies upgrade to more energy-efficient equipment and get advice on optimising their supply chain, as well as further regional and city-based grants. There are also numerous schemes across many sectors to incentivise the switch to electric vehicles for business use with the aim to keep cities cleaner and improve air quality.
In our headquarter city of Dundee, there are currently 30 publicly available charging stations for electric and hybrid vehicles, including the Princes Street EV Hub which has been recognised internationally for its design and innovative use of solar panels. As the hub is located in the city centre, it also makes it an easy stop for taxis and other services, as well as making charging more eco-friendly and self-sustainable. Some businesses are already embracing the shift to renewable energy, including Dundee City Council; local taxi companies including TeleTaxis; and Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce (who additionally offer a salary sacrifice scheme to employees to help lower the cost of leasing an electric vehicle).
Other types of businesses are also seeing the benefits of going electric and EVs are quickly becoming the go-to option for business vehicles with over 58.8% of all UK electric cars being company-registered, and it’s not just cars – there are over 26,900 vans, 993 buses, and 313 electric trucks on the road today. Charging is becoming easier, too, with all newly-built homes and commercial buildings in England now required to have access to an EV charging station on the premises (as of June 2022). At the end of December 2022, there were a recorded 37,261 charging points across the UK (according to the latest data from Zap-Map), which is 31% more than in December 2021, though this number is set to increase again before the end of 2023 as demand for charging stations continues to grow, especially in larger cities.
Looking to a broader, worldwide context, a 2022 paper by a group of Standford University researchers estimated that it would cost around $62 trillion (approximately £51 trillion) to switch to renewable energy across the 145 countries responsible for generating 99.7% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels. While this number may seem staggering, the researchers also concluded that the initial investment would pay for itself within the first 5 years based on the savings generated by switching to renewable energy long-term.
Alongside the financial benefits of renewable energy, the switch would additionally create over 28.4 million full-time, permanent jobs in addition to recovering the job losses from the fossil fuels industry. In the researchers’ estimates, predictions were also made based on the type of energy generation possible in each country / location, with different splits of on-shore and off-shore energy generation, solar photovoltaic (PV) systems for residential and commercial buildings, as well as hydro, tidal, and solar heat energy generation methods across each location – making the solutions more efficient and helping prevent regional blackouts, especially in the case of natural disasters. Additionally, the researchers concluded that 95% of the technologies required to implement their proposal are already commercially-viable and available – making a sustainable future an achievable goal within the next few decades.
A common misconception is that renewable energy accounts for only a tiny percentage of energy used day-to-day, and while this may have been the case in the very beginning, in 2019 around 11.2% of the energy consumed globally for heating, power, and transport came from renewable energy sources such as solar, hydro, wind, and others; and in 2020 renewable energy also generated 29% of the world’s electricity. At present, countries including Iceland, Norway, Uruguay, Kenya, and Sweden are leading the green energy revolution with over 80% of each country’s electricity being generated by renewable energy sources. In Scotland, 90.1% of electricity is generated from renewable energy sources, with some energy suppliers, including OVO Energy, providing their smart meter customers with 100% renewable electricity all year round.
Globally, the UK is currently third for green electricity generation after China and America respectively, making us one of the pioneers of renewable energy and showcasing the possibilities of modern infrastructure. Innovations across China and America have also substantially advanced the technology behind clean energy generation, which has additionally reduced the cost of production and made it more accessible across the world.
While the shift to renewables will not happen overnight, in 2023 clean energy generation is at the stage where it can cope with the high demand from businesses and help to supplement energy use to offset carbon emissions. By making small, incremental changes, businesses can invest in a more sustainable future and enjoy the benefits of joining others early in the energy transition over the next crucial few years.
Find out more about how technology is changing the energy sector and helping provide better services to clients throughout our article series, or contact our team to start your project.
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