There’s no question that the world is struggling to address climate change. Scientists are telling us that global warming will worsen if we don’t drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The good news is that companies can take straightforward steps to combat climate change. They include investing in clean energy, improving energy efficiency, and hardening their grids against extreme weather events.
Invest In Clean Energy
Investing in clean energy is one of the best ways for power companies to combat climate change. It reduces emissions, lowers consumer costs, and slows the pace of climate disruptions.
It also allows them to build a more resilient, reliable grid. This is especially important as extreme weather events like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have made it increasingly difficult for utilities to deliver the needed power, resulting in costly damage to infrastructure and customer service.
By contrast, power companies like BKV Energy can begin investing now in clean energy technology that is more affordable than ever before. Installing a solar panel is cheaper than operating most of the country’s coal-fired plants.
These investments can help make the grid more resilient and reliable and create good-paying union jobs in clean energy industries. In addition, these technologies will improve energy efficiency, which can lead to savings for families and businesses.
The clean energy industry is growing, with hundreds of new projects being developed daily. These projects generate good-paying jobs, lower energy bills, and reduce greenhouse gas pollution.
But climate-related risks vary globally, and utilities face a $500 billion investment gap to properly future-proof their assets. The world’s largest power companies are already making significant efforts to adapt to climate change, but much more can be done.
Invest In Resilience
There are many ways that power companies can combat climate change, but one of the most important is to invest in resilience. This refers to the ability to withstand challenges or disasters without stress.
Resilience can be built by investing in healthy lifestyle choices like eating a nutritious diet and exercising regularly. It also involves reframing thoughts and using a strengths-based approach to dealing with adversity.
Aside from the physical benefits, investing in resilience can also provide financial rewards to investors and other stakeholders, including reduced losses, induced economic or development help, and additional social and environmental benefits. This is known as the triple dividend of resilience.
Regarding climate adaptation, resilience is crucial for ensuring business continuity and helping communities rebound from natural disasters. It is also critical for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and maximizing the long-term benefit of clean energy investments.
The United States and other global countries are developing various programs to boost resilience to climate impacts. These include rethinking the building codes that govern the construction, enhancing flood protection, and preparing infrastructure to withstand storms.
Power utilities, too, can help improve the resilience of their communities and reduce climate risks by increasing the availability of reliable, affordable, and clean energy. They can also invest in their systems’ reliability and durability by improving energy storage capacity to withstand storms or replacing coal with wind energy.
Invest In Smart Grids
Investing in smart grids can help combat climate change by reducing power production and consumption emissions. These technologies reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by improving energy efficiency, allowing consumers to manage their electricity use better and choose the correct times to buy and use it.
Smart grids also enable new decentralized energy production systems like wind turbines and solar panels. These distributed energy sources can be interconnected to the centralized electric grid via intelligent infrastructure. They can provide power when needed while ensuring the grid doesn’t overheat or burn out during periods of high demand.
In addition, these intelligent infrastructure projects can help prevent power outages by monitoring power lines and using real-time communication to detect problems as soon as they occur. This can help avoid blackouts that may cascade across large grid areas.
Additionally, intelligent grids can connect multiple grids to share energy resources when needed. This can reduce energy costs and carbon emissions.
Another benefit of smart grids is that they can support the decentralization of energy generation, which enables more renewable energy to be generated by smaller, more efficient generators. This reduces the number of centralized fossil fuel power plants producing GHGs and improves the overall environmental impact of the electric grid.
However, power companies must be careful when investing in smart grids and other low-carbon technologies. To meet their climate goals and reduce carbon pollution, power companies need to be able to justify their investment in various ways.
Invest In Energy Efficiency
Energy efficiency is one of the most cost-effective ways to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It lowers electricity costs, improves people’s health, and creates jobs. It also reduces air pollution and enables communities to build resilience.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), energy efficiency can deliver nearly half the emissions cuts needed to prevent a climate catastrophe. This means that power companies can play a crucial role in providing a low-carbon economy by lowering the demand for electricity and increasing its availability.
The United States has set an economy-wide target to cut its net greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52% below 2005 levels in 2030. The government has also pledged to reach 100% carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035. However, achieving this requires hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure maintenance and energy efficiency investments.
Buildings and industry are significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for about two-thirds of the U.S. emissions. These sectors could reduce emissions by up to 70% with energy-efficient upgrades, improved control technologies, and electrification of buildings and heating and cooling systems.
Industrial improvements, new materials, and technologies could also lead to large-scale reductions. The Department of Energy (DOE) supports the Advanced Manufacturing Office and encourages partners to lead with energy efficiency and decarbonization across the manufacturing sector.