Over the last few years, the term “net zero” has been bandied about extensively. Net zero simply means that there will be no net carbon emissions. Many countries have joined the pledge to achieve net zero by 2050 – a necessary condition if the global rise in temperature is to be restricted to 1.5° celsius.
At the same time, adopting a “net zero” mindset is essential to provide universal and affordable energy access so as to enable steady economic growth. The answer to this lies in wholesale investment in renewable sources of energy and their efficient generation and distribution, in addition to embracing sustainable construction and transportation practices.
And many of today’s startups are coming up with cutting-edge solutions to these very needs. In this article, we will study various ways in which different companies worldwide are applying their knowledge and technology to find out how one can achieve net zero emissions:
1. Optimised power distribution
UK-based Electron has developed a marketplace platform that optimises localised energy trading and thus supports renewable power distribution. Jo-Jo Hubbard, the company CEO, states that today’s challenge is not just about generating clean power but about consuming it at the right time and the right place.
The UK, in fact, turned off about £500million worth of wind energy in 2020 for this very reason. The ElectronConnect platform had developed a solution to this and thus enables utilities to make the most of local marketplaces and manage their network capacity better.
By switching from a top-down approach to a decentralised, transactionally optimised market, networks can use their assets more efficiently to give the end-user low-cost power, thus motivating them to use more electric-powered devices. The end result? More clean power consumption across the society at large.
2. On-site solar power
Another way to achieve net zero emissions is to decarbonise heat. To address this, Naked Energy developed Virtu – a hybrid solar collector that couples solar thermal and solar photovoltaic (PV) for on-site heat and power production.
It is designed for application at sites with heavy heat consumption, such as manufacturing plants, sterilisation facilities, hospitals and care homes. It is billed as ‘the world’s highest energy density solar technology.’
With Virtu, systems need less space to generate the same level of output, which means that organisations can benefit from higher energy density than with traditional solar PV panels.
Plus, they get up to 3.5 times the carbon savings and a 50% higher return on investment for a given space with the net zero technology.
3. Battery-powered buses
4. Cleaner jet fuel
Medium and long-haul flights currently rely on liquid fuels for high power and energy density – and they currently account for about two-thirds of global CO2 emissions in the aviation industry.
In response, UK-based >Velosys has come up with an excellent solution for how to achieve net zero emissions. It uses household and commercial waste to develop sustainabl aviation fuel (SAF), which can deliver a net CO2 saving of up to 70% compared to regular fuel.
SAF is created by a process called Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, in which waste is broken down into carbons and then converted into hydrocarbons.
It relies on the carbon-based natural waste that would otherwise have been incinerated rather than extracting new carbon from the fossil fuel reserves and is therefore sustainable.
Velosys has partnered with British Airways to develop Altalto, the UK’s first waste to jet fuel processing facility, which will generate up to 80 million litres of SAF.
5. Improved carbon capture
At its most basic, how to achieve net zero emissions involves minimising carbon emissions at the source and the removal of existing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Canadian firm Carbon Engineering is collaborating with Storrega in northeast Scotland to build the first commercial direct air capture with underground sequestration (DACS) plant in Europe.
Given the UK’s skilled workforce, excellent infrastructure and geological storage capacity, they have the potential to become a leader in DACS technology.
The plant is set to start operations in 2026 and will be able to remove about one megaton of CO2 from the atmosphere each year (the equivalent of 40 million trees)!
Over to you
Until a decade ago, using technology to reduce carbon emissions seemed strange. Today, it has become a necessity for achieving net zero. In fact, there is a sense of urgency and scale of action is required for cleaner energy transitions worldwide.
We at Waste2ES understand the pressure businesses across sectors have to comply with zero waste to landfill regulations, reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions, and implement sustainable solutions for wastewater and soil treatment.
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