How The Push For Carbon Neutrality And Renewable Energy Hinders The Sustainability Process

Not all sunshine and roses… This article was inspired by discussion trends at the Arizona Energy Consortium (AEC) conference.

What is Carbon Neutrality?

Also known as “zero carbon footprint”, carbon neutrality refers to a net zero carbon emissions environment. This net zero is achieved by balancing a measured amount of carbon released, with an equivalent amount sequestered or offset. Essentially, it’s about removing the same amount of carbon dioxide in the environment as one puts in.

States like California are pledging via laws like SP350-2030 to omit 40% less carbon than was emitted in the year 1996. States like California are at the forefront of the push to make appropriate changes to the law to help the environment.

The Problem With Focusing on Zero Net Carbon Emissions

Carbon emissions, also known as greenhouse gasses, are the carbon dioxide created from burning of fossil fuels. But what is the connection between carbon emissions and energy saving? Carbon emission is one of the major “markers” of a more green direction but it also is a symptom not the a root issue.

According to Jonathan Rumble, California is set to decarbonize 80% by 2050. They plan on achieving this through a myriad number of ways; implementation of clean power, net energy in new housing, appliance upgrades and hybrids are all major ideas being thrown around as solutions.

Solutions aside, there are some major hurdles with attempting to just increase sustainable production to the point where carbon emitting sources are unnecessary.

Arizona Energy Consortium (AEC)

At the recent Arizona Energy Consortium (AEC) energy conference, Johnathan Rumble made it a point to discuss some of the difficulties to be found in progressing to a no carbon emission plan.

Demand and Over-Production

One of the major issues that many face is that the practical energy use, and energy provided by solar, are not compatible. This is illustrated in what is called a “duck curve”. The amount of energy generated versus the amount used between the hours of 9am and 3 pm is vastly disproportionate to the amount that will be used and what is generated starting around 6pm. Apparently this chart when graphed looks like a duck.

Unintended Consequences: National Grid Strain

This is one of the biggest issues with just mass implementation of solar and other “sustainable” solutions. The grid was not meant handle such a large spike in electricity. This has resulted (as discussed in a previous blog) in major issues in the state of California, where due to mass use of air conditioning units, cities like San Francisco faced massive summer blackouts. If this trend continues, this may become a reality in many other major metropolitan cities. As solar becomes more and more commonplace, the question now being asked is what to do when solar goes away?

Solutions to Reduce Electricity Strain on The Grid

While it may seem like the position we find ourselves in is hopeless, there are some fairly major and innovative ideas that might solve this problem

Balancing the Grid

Balancing the power grid load is about matching the supply of energy to demand. The problem with more renewable energy being installed into the grid, is that it makes balancing the grid less predictable.

Energy Storage

One of the solutions that is being looked at is storage. Storage itself comes with a fairly large heap of its own issues, including how one can possibly move the stored energy without releasing more greenhouse gasses. A new and innovative solution discussed at the AEC was to store on the sight of collection. This prevents the need for a new, and very expensive transmission having to be built to manage the energy.

Managing and Increasing Energy Efficiency

Regardless of the solution, the technology to shift entirely to renewables isn’t there yet, but all is not hopeless. One of the solutions that is being ignored by too many is simply managing energy efficiency. Naya works to bridge the gap between a renewable tomorrow and a sustainable today. This comes down to one concept: balancing the grid.

Naya is perfectly suited to help with that. With Naya Energy’s cutting edge understanding of how efficiency is connected to savings, the wait for the next world changing solution doesn’t have to be one where no progress is made.

Written by Naya Contributor Nikhil Patel

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