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Sun, wind and waves: the future of renewable energy is bright

Photography By Unsplash
Published 29.06.21

So, this is the decade.

The decade to make real change as governments, industry and individuals move from the carbon-based economy of the past to clean, renewable energy. We are already seeing innovative technology subvert decades of polluting fossil fuels to help countries achieve net zero emissions.

There are other global initiatives afoot as we move from petrol to electric cars, gas to geothermal heat-pumps, and plans for wind farms and solar panel installations on a large scale (such as the Pilbara project in Australia). Investors are fleeing from fossil fuels and investing in climate change solutions and countries that are serious about a future powered by sun, wind and waves.

Imagine if we used 100 per cent renewable energy to generate all our electricity to power industry and transport sectors as well as the cities and homes we live in? Modelling has shown that wind farms spread around Australia’s vast continent could supply up to 70 per cent of our electricity needs and if combined with solar, would meet almost all demand.

For change to happen, large companies need to make a massive switch to using clean energy to power their operations and Google stands out as a company that is committed and realistic without pretending it’s going to be easy.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced recently, “The science is clear: The world must act now if we’re going to avert the worst consequences of climate change.”

As a conscious consumer, what’s your role? Well, backing brands that are reducing their carbon footprint for starters. Google is the first major company to commit to operating carbon-free on a 24/7 basis and they have given themselves the target of 2030 to achieve it. This requires a multipronged approach from building renewables to investing in battery storage to creating thermal storage out of air-conditioning chillers to changing how operations are run. Google’s strategy will include pairing wind and solar power sources and they pledge to “work on ways to apply AI (artificial intelligence) to optimise electricity demand and forecasting”. We want other companies to do the same.

So, if you want to support brands doing positive things, what should you look for? Firstly, any commitment to change has to happen in a meaningful timeframe. In other words, this decade. When a company, or country for that matter, talks about 2050 as a timeframe, they are really saying ‘we’re making a vague commitment that no one will be able to hold us to’. A company determined to make change by 2030 is committing its existing management to an immediate action plan. A plan they will have painstakingly considered or they won’t have a hope in hell of delivering on it. This is what makes Google stand out.

We can also take action in our own homes. Smart appliances and home energy management systems can help to automatically increase or reduce electricity use based on available renewable power. Dishwashers, fridges and freezers and pool pumps are great examples of appliances that can be used at off-peak times without much inconvenience. In Australia, wholesale electricity retailer Amber Electric, helps customers use energy in their household when the price is cheap and renewables are plentiful.

This decade is already presenting consumers, businesses and policy makers with opportunities to have a real impact and show initiative in renewable uptake. With the clean energy revolution underway, it’s now up to us to support it wherever possible, whether that’s in our households or where we spend our dollars.

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