The world is currently facing a major challenge - climate change. One of the main causes of climate change is the emission of greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide, which is largely produced by burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas for energy.
This has led to a significant increase in the concentration of these gasses in the atmosphere, leading to global warming and its devastating effects.
What is Clean Energy?
Clean energy is energy that comes from renewable, non-polluting sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower, and biomass. These sources of energy are considered "clean" because they do not produce greenhouse gases or any other harmful emissions.
Can Clean Energy Decarbonize the World?
Clean energy is not a new concept, but it has gained prominence in recent years due to the urgent need to address climate change.
The adoption of clean energy sources is an essential step towards decarbonizing the world. Decarbonization refers to the reduction or elimination of carbon emissions from the energy sector, which is a critical step in combatting climate change.
The good news is that clean energy is already making a significant impact in reducing carbon emissions.
According to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), clean and renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and hydropower accounted for over 80% of the new power generation capacity installed globally in 2020. The adoption of clean energy is evidently increasing at a rapid pace.
Let’s look at some use cases of clean energy in decarbonization.
The power generation sector is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for approximately 42% of global emissions.
Clean energy sources such as wind, solar, and hydro can replace fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas in power generation, thereby reducing emissions.
The IEA estimates that solar and wind power could become the largest source of electricity by 2025, surpassing coal and natural gas. The falling costs of renewable energy technologies have made them competitive with fossil fuels in many regions, making it economically feasible to switch to clean energy.
Transportation, especially road and air travel, is another major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for approximately 16% of global emissions. And by introducing clean energy sources such as electric vehicles (EVs), hydrogen, and biofuels, the mobility sector can find promising alternatives to traditional gasoline and diesel vehicles.
EVs are powered by batteries that can be charged using clean energy sources such as solar and wind. EVs have seen a surge in popularity in recent years and can significantly reduce emissions from transportation, particularly in urban areas.
Biofuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel, can also replace fossil fuels in transportation to help offset carbon footprint and lower emissions in the transportation industry.
Industry and Buildings
The industrial and building sectors are responsible for a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions, with manufacturing, construction, and heating and cooling systems being major culprits. Clean energy sources such as renewable electricity and biomass can help decarbonize these sectors.
Renewable electricity can replace fossil fuels in industrial processes such as steel and cement production, and offer solutions to reduce carbon emissions in these sectors.
Concurrently, biomass can also be used to produce heat and power in buildings, replacing fossil fuels such as natural gas and oil.
Enapter on a Mission to Achieve Net Zero
Hydrogen plays a crucial role in the decarbonization of sectors that are reliant on liquid and gaseous fuel. Unfortunately, the majority of hydrogen production today still relies on fossil fuel or natural gas, leaving green hydrogen (produced with renewable energy) room to make up less than 1% of the total hydrogen production.
The costly price tag of green hydrogen has also been a barrier to its widespread adoption. The good news is, Enapter, a cleantech startup, aims to change this trajectory by making green hydrogen affordable and accessible to all.
Enapter’s game-changing AEM electrolyzers enable the production of low-cost green hydrogen at any scale. It is projected that the lifetime cost will be on par with grey hydrogen by 2025.
What’s Stopping Us to Fully Transition to Clean Energy?
Despite the benefits of clean energy, there are still challenges to overcome in order to fully decarbonize the world.
One of the biggest obstacles to this shift toward clean energy is in the cost of the technology. While the price has seen a drop in recent years, it still remains higher than that of fossil fuels in some regions.
This is made worse by the fact that there are political barriers to overcome in the fossil fuel industry. With billions invested, fossil fuel companies and their supporters have significant influence in many countries on policy-making processes and often resist policies that would promote the transition to clean energy.
Fortunately, the cost of clean energy is expected to continue to decline as technology improves and economies of scale are achieved through increased production. And hopefully, with time, more people in both public and private sectors are aware of the need to take action to combat climate change.