Cleantech, or clean technology, is one of the key weapons in the global battle against climate change. The implementation of new technologies can help reduce the volume of carbon dioxide emissions and even take carbon out of the atmosphere, reducing greenhouse gases and helping to slow climate change.
Scientists have calculated that we must half our output of carbon at least once each decade between 2020 and 2050 if we are to achieve the targeted level of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The short video attachment explains pre-industrial CO2 levels.
Duncan Clark, US Cleantech’s Head of European Business Operations, forms part of a team dedicated to applying clean technology to provide environmental solutions that are commercially viable. In the UK, the two sectors that produce the most CO2 are energy and transport, so clean technologies in these sectors have the potential to have the highest impact.
Renewable energy is usually the first thing people think of when talking about technologies that have the potential to slow down climate change. The transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources on a global scale is already happening, but there is still a long way to go if we are to see a significant impact.
Since the beginning of the industrial age humans have relied heavily on energy, which for almost two centuries came primarily from the burning of fossil fuels. This process releases harmful CO2 gas into the atmosphere and has been largely responsible for climate change to date. Renewable energy sources such as solar, hydroelectric, wind, geothermal and biomass do not produce CO2, making their use much better for the environment.
The term ‘renewable’ comes from the fact that these energy sources are infinite, unlike fossil fuels, of which there are is a finite quantity. There will always be more sunlight, more wind, more tidal movements – no matter how much renewable energy we harness, it will never run out.
Some facts about renewable energy use in the UK can be seen in the embedded infographic.
While renewable energy sources will never run out, they cannot always be relied upon to produce energy at the desired rate. The sun goes down at night and the wind does not blow constantly, so storage technologies are required to capture and save the unused energy from times when these sources are abundant, to be used at times when they are less plentiful. Storing generated energy – often in batteries – creates a supply for use at times when energy demand peaks, or when the renewable source is temporarily unavailable, such as on a still night.
In the transport sector, the widespread adoption of electric vehicles could be a game-changer in terms of reducing carbon emissions. While production and manufacturing processes still typically generate carbon emissions, once the vehicles are on the road, they give off zero emissions. This results in cleaner air and a significantly reduced carbon footprint, as well as less noise pollution, as EVs are usually a lot quieter than combustion engine vehicles.
One electric car on the roads will on average reduce the volume of CO2 emissions by the same amount as that generated by four flights from London to Barcelona and back. Electric vehicle targets in the UK are currently aiming for an outright ban on the sale of diesel and petrol-powered cars by the year 2040.
Some more facts about the electric vehicle industry in the UK today can be seen in the PDF attachment to this post.