Finally, corporations are waking up to the need for a Solar Age. Or so it seems if one reads the media hype. With Green Bonds and Social Bonds, companies are financing infrastructure to take advantage of renewables. They are charting their GHG emissions and cutting ribbons on server farms cooled with North Carolina’s sun or Iceland’s cold air.
Does this mean there is no longer need for fossil fuels? Nearly 80% of the energy used in the US comes from fossil fuels – petroleum, natural gas and coal. And even though the production of coal has decreased, there has been significant increase in domestic oil and gas production. With relatively inexpensive fuel and a vast infrastructure, one can expect the transition to be slow, modest paced at best.
Those of us entrenched in sustainability can be mollified knowing we are now discussing TRANSITION rather than only outright resistance.
Fossil fuel companies are purposefully diverting resources to renewables. CEOs who think in terms of decades rather than quarters know they must enter this realm or eventually lose out. The proliferation of fossil fuels is finite (even if 100 years away) and eventually will best suit as feedstock for the thousand of chemical applications for which fossil fuels are essential. Might we rename them fossil additives?
What does the transition entail? Expect greater use of RECs – renewable energy certificates, tradable receipts that prove that an individual or organization produced or purchased renewable energy. A REC certifies that you have paid for that portion of energy off the grid which came from a renewable source. As more organizations want to be or appear to be environmentally responsible, they will want to purchase more RECs, requiring more renewables sourcing the grid.
Another transition tool are PPAs – power purchase agreements which allow smaller power users who could not cost effectively build a wind or solar installation join with others to do so.
Lesson here? If you are part of the energy industry – and every sector is! – then understanding the current and future evolution of energy is imperative. We are in a state of flux with tensions pulling in multiple directions. While there is no single solution, knowing one’s options helps make the optimal choice for you and your organization.
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