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The preservation of the environment is everyone’s business. Around the world, many people have touted this very accurate phrase: “There’s no Plan(et) B.” However, there are actionable steps we can all take to slow climate change. One of the best places to start is our utilities.
Our need for energy will be a lasting dependence. In order to be a more clean-energy-focused world, the solution to pollution is to find sources with low emissions. Here are ways that utilities can start producing cleaner energy and reduce pollution.
Companies have been burning fossil fuels for years to produce energy. So, why all of a sudden is it important to cut emissions?
The United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates that fossil fuels have had more of an adverse effect on the environment than anything else humans are doing. Carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide are currently more ample in our atmosphere than at any time in almost 100,000 years. They are called “greenhouse gases” because they prevent the Earth from releasing heat into space. This phenomenon is what’s currently creating climate change.
Truthfully, it’s always been important to curb emissions. However, now that the planet’s population is so large, we are producing greenhouse gases at an alarming rate. Anywhere we can cut these emissions is crucial, and it is very possible to do with utilities.
In the United States, 60% of energy is still being produced with fossil fuels. How can utility companies change that?
Several large companies in the U.S. have already pledged to find greener alternatives for their production. If each utility meets its goal of emission reduction, it could reduce the production of greenhouse gases by over 30%.
While it is not certain they will meet these commitments, the idea itself could prove very helpful. Any difference could help, and by showing the rest of the world that this kind of change is achievable, they could start to follow suit.
It is possible now that utilities could reliably use renewable sources to power their creation of energy. Solar, wind, and geothermal energy are all places for companies to look to change their reliance on fossil fuels. In addition to this, there are now clean ways to store energy when the sun goes down or the wind stops blowing.
Companies can use hydrogen to both store energy and produce it. This method would completely cut scope one emissions and has the ability to be carbon-free. Committing to using or finding more sources like hydrogen will revolutionize how utilities produce energy.
It is no secret that people will have to spend money all around to change how people produce and use energy. The public might have a hard time with the change if they have to pay for it in their homes. But companies can work with others to offer incentives that will encourage customer spending.
One possible change they could introduce is the smart home. Smart homes use things like smart lights and thermostats to reduce how much extra electricity a house uses. Utilities will spend less when they have to produce less, so offering this to customers at a reduced price will persuade them to upgrade.
All of the research and development of clean energy will come with a cost. Because of this, utilities might wish to put off their pivot to green until it possibly becomes cheaper. But there are already ways to cut back on how much they spend.
The U.S. government is often providing funding for utility companies to cut emissions. In December 2021, it was announced that the government would spend $650 billion dollars annually to purchase products that will not produce greenhouse gases. If utilities find the means to talk with the right officials, it is possible they could switch to clean energy at a lower cost.
Utility companies produce a lot of greenhouse gases, but this means they have big opportunities to change how they operate. If utilities commit to reducing their emissions, it would have an extremely positive impact on the environment. The Earth is not an inexhaustible resource, so anything that can be done to save it is vital. Utilities can be the ones to make that happen.
Jane is the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co and an environmental writer covering green technology, sustainability and environmental news.
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