- Posted by Amy Bell
- On November 5, 2022
In the month of the United National Cop 27 Climate Change conference in Egypt, Karima Verjee, an expert in green energy, explains why the need to move away from harmful fossil fuels is more pressing than ever.
It’s impossible to miss headlines about climate change and the harm that carbon emissions are doing to our planet. Not a day goes by without an alarm bell going off. Due to human activity, the temperature of the earth has increased by 1.5 degrees since the industrial revolution. Currently energy use accounts for almost 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Furthermore, global energy demand is projected to more than double by 2050 as the population grows and economies shift. Due to increased pressures on energy demand, triggered by the Ukraine war, the need to move to clean sustainable energy is now more pressing than ever in order to meet global energy demand and for the world to reach net zero targets.
How do we move away from harmful fossil
fuels towards more sustainable options? The answer can be found in energy transition, energy sovereignty and democratisation of energy. But what do they mean? Energy transition concerns the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources in an effort to reduce CO2 emissions. Energy sovereignty signifies that individuals and communities can make their own decisions on energy generation. The democratisation of energy represents a shift from the corporate, centralized fossil fuel economy to one that is governed by communities thus ensuring that the transition to renewable energy focuses on social benefits and their fair distribution and not on economic advantages for a few.
These are the components of the term “sustainable energy” which are essential to achieving a happy marriage between lifestyles and lowering CO2 emissions.
In Spain the cheapest cost of electricity by far comes from solar where a kilowatt-hour of solar can be produced profitably at less than €40. This compares to market prices which have exceeded €200, influenced both by the high cost of gas and regulations which are no longer fit for purpose in today’s world of cheap renewable power. In the UK, both solar and onshore wind are making huge strides towards decarbonising the economy, and similar cost discrepancies exist.
We are experiencing some amazing development in technologies which support sustainable and renewable energy such as energy storage, green hydrogen, and energy hybridisation.
The storage of electrical energy is an important factor in sustainable energy to balance the demands for power and the available supply to the grid. Batteries are an important solution whose cost has reduced, and efficiency has increased substantially in recent years. Most new solar and wind farms in Spain will be built with battery storage.
Green hydrogen is an energy vector that allows energy to be stored and delivered in a controlled manner over the long term. The generation of hydrogen uses a chemical process called electrolysis which uses electrical currents to extract hydrogen from the oxygen in water. Hydrogen can be used as a green fuel, free of greenhouse gases, to generate electricity.
Hybridisation is the generation of energy by using two or more different energy sources in a single location which share the same connection point to the electrical grid. Hybrid installations are considered highly efficient because the pattern of energy produced complement each other and improve our ability to predict energy supply accurately. More accurate forecasting means less energy waste and lower costs to the system, meaning lower CO2 and cheaper electricity.
These technological breakthroughs have restructured the renewables market leading to a significant decrease in climate change through the reduction of millions of tonnes of CO2 emissions. It is a vital step forward in the energy transition.
People, planet & progress
Global transitioning to sustainable energy is key to combating climate change and improving the well-being of the population. Sustainable energy technologies also determine social benefits in terms of the generation of direct and indirect jobs at a local level, as well as promoting the creation of energy communities. We are now seeing important advances towards the democratisation of energy and the achievement of energy independence thus leaving behind dependence on highly polluting finite sources.
Note on the author:
Karima Verjee is a Sustainability Officer of Esparity Solar, a green energy company with headquarters in the UK and renewable projects throughout Spain.