10 Dec 2015, 12:23
COP21 is focused on how to generate more and cleaner energy to power a low carbon world. But what if we also set about dramatically changing how we use the energy already available to us? Our creaking systems of power generation have in-built flexibility that needs unlocking so we don't have to always turn to the option of building another expensive power plant.
Looking back to the time of Thomas Edison, we have made only incremental improvements in actually using the infrastructure we use to generate energy. With only a 6 per cent increase in load factor in 130 years, focusing on building more power stations alone is not a smart solution.
Instead, Open Energi is rolling out invisible and automated technology that allows large industrial consumers to align their energy use with available supply. If just 5 per cent of peak demand is met with flexible power, the response would be equivalent to the generation of a new nuclear power station.
With traditional power infrastructure, it has been especially difficult to store electricity. Today however, batteries are fast becoming a megatrend- allowing consumers to store low cost and renewable energy and deliver it back at times of peak demand. People don't look out their window to see if the sun is shining or the wind is blowing before putting their kettle on, which means we need a new way of making electricity flexible. Arenko is building a portfolio of energy storage assets which puts the power back into the consumer's hands whilst providing reinforcement to the electricity grid and reducing the need for significant and costly grid upgrades.
With the exciting growth of new technologies for managing demand it is important not to forget that people are at the heart of the energy system. Energy tech start-up Open Utility is trialling its first service, called Piclo, with Good Energy. The 100 per cent renewable energy marketplace connects wind, solar and hydro generators with businesses that want to cut their carbon emissions by buying clean energy. We're moving towards democratised and decentralised energy systems, and we need platforms that let people take part. We're moving away from large power stations, to people generating energy in their back yards, and selling to their neighbour, local school, hospital or workplace. International targets and pledges for cutting carbon emissions can seem quite abstract and unconnected to the everyday person. The advent of an online marketplace puts people back into the equation, giving them the choice to buy local green energy - and play their own part in combating climate change.
With the energy system already transitioning away from traditional models dominated by power stations, Open Energi, Arenko and Open Utility are pioneering a consumer-led, decentralised approach- providing flexible capacity which is exponentially cheaper than the alternatives.
By Open Energi's David Hill, Arenko's Rupert Newland and Open Utility's James Johnston
03 Dec 2015, 17:12
As Bill Gates stressed at COP21 this week at the launch of a new multi-billion dollar clean tech R&D initiative, businesses need to play a key role in delivering the low cost zero emission technology that makes tackling climate change possible.
However progress by companies to address this is still slow. In a post-two degree world, certain crop yields in the US, India and across Africa are expected to decrease by up to 30%; up to 30% of animals and plant species could face extinction; and 30% of the annual sea ice could be lost in the Arctic. If you think about what's required to avoid these scenarios (as described by the likes of the World Bank and National Research Council), we not there yet - not by a long way.
It's time for companies to look beyond their own operations and consider the wider impact of their business and look at the entire system that sits beyond their own boundaries. By looking along the value chain of suppliers, manufacturers and raw material providers at one end, and customers and consumers at the other, businesses can get a broader view of the risks - and work towards addressing the materials, water and energy being wasted across sectors.
Just 15% of AkzoNobel's total environmental footprint lies within our direct control. So, through our Planet Possible strategy, we aim to work more closely with both our suppliers and customers to find new ways of reducing our overall impact. By 2020, we want our entire value chain to be between 25-30% more efficient.
Central to this is helping our customers be more efficient. For example, our biocide-free coatings prevent organisms from clinging to the hulls of ships, helping shipping companies travel faster, use less fuel and produce less emissions. Our Rediset additives enable asphalt to be laid without the need for high-temperature (high carbon impact) mixing. And our Dulux Weathershield KeepCool, an exterior paint which can reflect up to 85% more infrared radiation than traditional exterior paints, is helping to reduce energy use in buildings by up to 15%.
By working in partnership with others, it's a lot easier to unlock some of the solutions that are required in this emerging low-carbon, resource-constrained world. Collaboration is something we strongly believe in and we can point to several success stories. For example, we recently signed a multi-year agreement to purchase sustainably generated steam from Dutch energy provider Eneco. This will help reduce our CO2 emissions by over 100,000 tons a year. We also focus on helping our customers to become more efficient. We continue to develop a wide range of innovative products, such as additives that allow asphalt to be laid at low temperatures and solar-reflective exterior paint that reduces a building's energy use by up to 15 percent.
Elsewhere, we are part of a major Dutch consortium exploring how we might use household waste as a feedstock for our chemical plants. We're even looking into the possibility of producing chemicals from beet-derived sugar feedstock - again, working with others.
But enhanced collaboration demands new types of relationships that move beyond the traditional, purely transactional supplier relationships that companies are most familiar and comfortable with. These new partnerships must be based on transparency and trust - and the sharing of costs, risks and benefits.
AkzoNobel, and other leading companies, are proving that limitations to the world's resources and a changing climate do not have to limit ambition and imagination as we strive to do more with less. We have also realized that many of the world's biggest challenges cannot be solved alone. But working with others doesn't have to be daunting. After all, you never know where innovation will come from.
01 Dec 2015, 16:04
LEARN TO LOVE UTILITIES
We're sure every business, big or small, would agree it's beneficial to use energy more efficiently. Reducing your use of electricity, gas and water reduces costs. It also helps to meet mandatory requirements like the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), cut carbon dioxide emissions, and deliver on your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) promises. What's not to like?
As the UK's largest energy consultancy, our customers tell us it's not the aims they have a problem with - it's achieving them when managing utilities is so complex.
From negotiating the best energy deals to monitoring consumption and understanding estimated bills; they say it takes time and effort that could be better spent on their core businesses.
That's why we created the Utilitywise Utility Management Plan. It's a hassle-free one-stop service that does away with utility worries like these.
IDEAL FOR ALL ENTERPRISES
The plan is totally flexible and can be used on its own or to plug gaps in an existing plan. It would suit any size of business, whether you run a barbershop in the high street or are a large organisation such as a university or a multinational corporation.
The Utility Management Plan for small businesses and the Strategic Utility Management Plan for large enterprises are tailored to meet your needs.
Smaller energy users are given a 10-step plan to give you more control over your energy, while products and services for big firms are grouped into four areas.
One of the plan's biggest benefits is helping organisations to make savings on energy use through better procurement. It also plays a key role in reducing consumption - the only true way to reduce your energy-spend.
SECURE YOUR ENERGY SAVINGS
Our support team are clued up on everything to do with energy. They'll ensure you make cost and efficiency savings by shopping around for electricity, gas and water deals, so you don't have to.
They'll help you to take advantage of falling energy prices by securing them at their lowest point or, if they rise again, fixing them before they go higher. They can also help you manage the estimated bills everyone hates.
To reduce consumption, the plan can also save you up to 20% by monitoring business utilities use through smart tools. These include dashboards that show what you use and when by the half-hour or day, and controls to turn your energy off automatically or manually using a smartphone.
Our teams can also advise firms on how to get employees to join in making efficiencies and reduce energy consumption.
PROVEN TO WORK
We have proved that the plan works for both big and small organisations.
A big customer like the University of Reading has achieved a total of £598,228 in savings on electricity and gas. Our team identified incorrect calculations for SOQ (Supply Offtake Quality), which shows the daily consumption in its gas supply, and AQs (Annual Quantity): the yearly consumption of all meters on its sites.
For small businesses, the Utility Management Plan has helped reduce energy bills for property specialists Wedgewood Estates by 20%, while estate agents Stack & Bonner saved £3,000 a year.
The plan saved Michaela Postlewhite, landlady of The Huntsman bar in Newton Aycliffe, "hours and hours of work" by aligning her energy contracts so she knew when all of them would be due for renewal.
THE BEST WAY TO START
Global demand for energy is predicted to rise by up to 40% by 2035, according the International Energy Agency (IEA), so we all need to be savvier about making energy efficiencies.
The challenge for business is that few have the time to become experts in such a complex subject. Fortunately, we do.
Since Utilitywise floated on AIM in 2012 we've acquired five companies to provide us with the capabilities to take customers seamlessly through everything from procuring energy to reducing energy consumption
If you'd like to get on with running your business instead of worrying about energy, give us a call about a professional Utility Management Plan on 0330 303 0233 and 01527 511 700 for corporate enquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.utilitywise.com.
28 Oct 2015, 09:27
In recent times, we've been hearing about the negative effects of communication technology and the Internet. But in between all the media influence, desensitization and information overload lies some positives and we're going to have a look specifically at how shopping via the Internet is a greener option for us and our only planet.
For starters, shopping through your computer without leaving your seat means you'd have to muster up less energy than if you get up and drive! On a serious note though, a study conducted by the Carnegie Mellon Green Design Institute had revealed that we leave a lower carbon footprint behind when we shop at home versus driving out eight miles to buy a thumb drive. Not having to drive the vehicle a certain distance for the procurement of only one item definitely has significant, positive impact on the environment when looked at on a large scale.
When you're on the hunt for a specific item, you could end up driving from store to store and that's inconvenient as you'd have to spend money on petrol, tolls and the item itself. Shopping online means you can browse as much and as long as you'd want without having to do extra driving. Seated on your own couch, you can search for precisely what you want and play a green role for the environment too. At the same time, you can scour the Internet and find the best rate for anything you want to purchase.
On top of that, keeping transactions online reduces the need for stores to print out receipts and other paperwork. With that, fewer trees are being chopped down to make paper that will most likely not end up in the recycling bin. As a buyer, you too can also have a record of your transaction saved online which means no more unnecessary printing for record-keeping.
Ordering online also means that your item and the items of a hundred other individuals will be placed in the same UPS, DHL or FedEx delivery van, which means that the energy used to deliver all those products is significantly lesser than having one hundred individuals drive out to different locations in order to procure what they need.
While shopping online, you can also reap the benefits of coupons and promo codes! Tonnes of coupon sites are on the rise and they provide you with endless lists of discounts that you can use for whichever brand you are shopping for. ChameleonJohn.com is one of those websites and a routine check with the website can help you save lots of money in the long run.
While shopping online can have its disadvantages such as not being able to touch or feel your products before purchase and products not meeting expectations when arriving, there also many benefits that can come out of it. Saving money is definitely one of it as most coupons are made for online purchases only, but what's great is how we can help reduce our carbon footprint. Do your part and go green by shopping the paperless way today!
23 Sep 2015, 09:00
This week the UN is calling businesses to step up their actions to tackle climate change by taking full responsibility for their own emissions with a new campaign, Climate Neutral Now.
This highlights the responsibility of business in tackling climate change, saying it has never been more important. The UN says: "As one of the major contributors of carbon emissions, responsible businesses and organisations need to measure, reduce and offset their emissions."
Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), urged voluntary action by businesses and individuals to avoid catastrophic climate change: "It is going to require action today and tomorrow and everyone need s to get on board from governments and corporations to cities, regions and individuals," she said.
In this, the UN aims to set an example: Secretary-General Ba Ki-moon announced that the United Nations will be climate neutral by 2020. Some of the world's biggest companies - including Microsoft, Aviva, theadidasgroup and Sony - are already showing leadership by becoming or pledging to become Climate Neutral, and encouraging others to follow their lead.
At ClimateCare we have 18 years' experience of delivering robust and effective programmes to help governments and business around the world become Climate Neutral. Clients value our approach to measuring, reducing and offsetting carbon emissions through Climate+Care projects that both protect the environment and improve lives - tackling poverty and empowering communities in the developing world. Supporting these multi-impact projects enables businesses to demonstrate responsible action on climate change and at the same time, their commitment to tackle wider social and environmental issues.
Going Climate Neutral can also deliver a range of business benefits you might not even have considered. From demonstrating environmental credentials and building customer confidence in your brand, to improving staff engagement with your broader sustainability programmes. It can even deliver business growth opportunities - building resilience in supply chains, supporting growth in key markets and helping to launch new products and services.
One of our long-standing corporate partners, Aviva, recently spoke to Business Fights Poverty setting out a business case for the insurance sector to follow its lead and go Climate Neutral, highlighting the benefits of doing so through an integrated Climate+Care programme - that delivers cost effective social impacts as well as cutting carbon.
"If climate change continues to happen at the rate it is, it will impact our business model and will impact what we can insure going forwards, so there is total consistency between our core business and what we do in terms of offsetting our own emissions," said Zelda Bentham, head of sustainability, Aviva plc.
We are delighted that the UN's influential voice is now encouraging others to follow the lead of the pioneering clients we work with. But why is this encouragement needed?
Corporates continue to make great strides in the transparent reporting of their negative impacts - carbon reporting and reduction programmes are becoming the norm, but the final step – taking full responsibility for the remaining immediate negative climate impacts through offsetting – is often still missing.
Businesses that make the decision not to offset their carbon emissions cite reasons ranging from misunderstandings about how the process works, to whether internal reductions are more cost effective. However, there is simply no argument about whether you should take action to reduce or offset your carbon emissions – the reality is that you need to do both in order to really be considered to be a responsible business.
And, as businesses start to talk about becoming net positive and delivering positive social and environmental impacts through their business operations, we believe it is essential that they first take full responsibility for their unavoidable negative impacts. For carbon emissions that means neutralising the climate impact through carbon offsets - going Climate Neutral must become a hygiene factor.
Once they've committed to Climate Neutrality, businesses we work with say it becomes easy to see where offsetting fits into the hierarchy of actions to tackle climate change. Many recommend putting an internal price on carbon emissions as a simple way to identify when it becomes financially prudent to move from carbon reduction to offsetting – ensuring money is always spent where it will have maximum impact.
The world is currently on track to exceed the two degree average warning limit. To avoid catastrophic climate change we need to take action now. Quite simply, it is not enough to reduce your carbon footprint – you need to offset it as well. The UN campaign, adds weight to the calls for businesses to go Climate Neutral - and responsible business leaders such as Aviva, Sony, Microsoft and others are showing the way.
Those who choose to go Climate Neutral with a Climate+Care programme will also be able to channel their support to projects that cut carbon and deliver against your priority social and environmental goals in locations that make sense for your business.
To find out more about what Climate Neutrality means for your business, call our expert team on +44(0)1865 591000 or visit www.climatecare.org
From offices in the UK and Africa, ClimateCare works with businesses and governments around the world to deliver integrated Climate+Care programmes which protect the environment and improve lives. Established in 1997, to date it has improved life for over six million people and cut 16.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions. ItÂ’s certified B Corporation and holds a QueenÂ’s Award for Sustainability for it outstanding contributions to tackling climate change and alleviating poverty.
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BusinessGreen's Industry Voice blog offers experts from across the low carbon economy the opportunity to present their views, opinions and analysis on the latest green business developments