Solar Power: Carbon Emissions and Energy Efficiency

For years now, climate change has been at the forefront of everyone’s mind — at least, everyone with an internet connection and a few minutes to spare. Global temperatures have been rising, and most people are quite certain as to the cause: too many greenhouse gases being pumped into the atmosphere by human beings. Most agree that this dangerous climate change can be halted by reducing our carbon footprint, and many are taking steps to do exactly that. In 2020 alone, the demand for solar energy expanded by 16% worldwide.

It’s a trend that can be attributed, at least in part, to the solar power industry’s continued adoption of new technologies and its drive to remain ahead of the curve. Thanks to initiatives like the United Nations’ Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate, signed in October 2020, more and more cities and towns are committing to use only clean energy sources, and the demand for solar power is rising as a result.

Along with our growing dependence on renewable energy comes the problem of climate change. While nuclear energy provides a stable source of electricity that doesn’t contribute to global warming, it’s still a cause for concern. As we’ve seen with the Three Mile Island incident in Toshiba (US) and the Hinkley power station in United Kingdom, accidents caused by human error are always a possibility when it comes to handling highly concentrated dangerous substances. In addition, there’s the matter of waste: all that steel and concrete that would otherwise be used for buildings and infrastructure. Finally, there’s the problem of what to do with the byproduct of nuclear energy, the highly radioactive waste. All these factors combine to make nuclear power a somewhat dirty form of energy.

This is why many are drawn to solar power: it’s a safe, clean source of electricity that can be used to power essential goods and services. In many parts of the world, particularly in sunny regions such as the Southern United States and Australia, it’s now possible to generate enough electricity to meet the needs of a city — or even a country — using only solar power. This is a game-changing development, both for the environment and for the economy. It would take hundreds of years for humanity to accumulate the amount of nuclear waste produced in a single year. Not only is solar energy infinitely more sustainable, but it’s also cheaper and more efficient. As fossil fuels begin to lose their appeal, particularly as industries shift to a post-pandemic world, the economics of solar power become all the more attractive.

There’s also the carbon reduction argument, which holds that generating electricity using fossil fuels contributes to the release of CO2 into the atmosphere, thus making climate change even more of a threat. While this is certainly true, the solution is not to eliminate all forms of energy production; it’s to reduce our carbon footprint. The more cities and towns that adopt sustainable building practices, reducing their energy usage and shifting to clean energy sources, the better off we’ll all be.

The Rise of Sustainability

The world is changing, and the role of renewable energy in powering society is becoming an ever-more important factor. In 2020 alone, the demand for solar energy expanded by 16% worldwide.

Along with the growth of sustainable building practices, including retrofitting homes, offices and public spaces to be more eco-friendly, comes the demand for sustainable products. From plastic straws to plastics packaging, manufacturers of all sizes are responding to the call to become more sustainable, and customers are responding by making more informed choices. This is creating a massive opportunity for businesses.

While we’re still in the early stages of a major shift to a more sustainable world, it’s clear that renewable energy is becoming a major player on the world stage. In 2021, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated that renewables would contribute 26.8% of the world’s energy supply, up from 12.7% in 2020.

Why Are People Embracing Sustainability?

It’s a trend that can be attributed, at least in part, to our growing dependence on renewable energy and the fact that many are keen to reduce their carbon footprint. In most cases, people are making informed decisions about the products they use, driven by a desire to be more sustainable. According to the Global Sustainability Summit 2021, a survey of 1500 individuals conducted by OPINI found that:

  • 68% of respondents would like to see more sustainable choices offered by brands they buy
  • 56% would like to see more brands taking a stand on sustainability issues
  • 50% would like to see sustainable choices offered at the point-of-sale
  • 44% would like to see more brands championing sustainability
  • 42% would like to see corporations take a lead in sustainability
  • 38% would like to see consumers play a greater role in sustainability
  • 35% would like to see governments take a lead in sustainability
  • 15% would like to see non-governmental organizations play a greater role in sustainability

While this type of consumer demand is certainly a good thing and gives the industry a sense of direction, it can also pose a challenge. As brands begin to play a greater role in sustainability and climate change, how does an organization ensure that its policies and product offerings remain relevant and don’t go out of date? How does it continue to innovate and stay ahead of the curve? These are some of the questions that organizations need to ask themselves as they evaluate how to respond to the changing demands of a more sustainable world.

One thing’s for certain: climate change is real, and it’s an ever-evolving issue that requires a constant adaptation and re-evaluation of strategy and tactics. While many sectors and leaders are stepping up and taking action, it remains to be seen whether we’ll be able to avoid the most devastating effects of climate change.

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