The government in the UK aims to get the country to ‘net zero’ by around the middle of this century. This means that our collective carbon emissions would be entirely offset by things like carbon capture technology and tree-planting initiatives. Realising this ambition will require the contribution of several different industries, many of which are set to evolve considerably over the next few decades. Let’s take a look at a few of those industries.
Renewable energy sources are those that can be sustained indefinitely without any impact on the natural world. In practice, this means everything that doesn’t involve burning fossil fuels. In the distant future, it might be that now-nascent technologies like nuclear fusion can make a contribution. But for now, it’s a combination of wind, solar and nuclear.
One of the problems inherent with the first two is that they generate power on an intermittent basis. As such, any advances here will be dependent on energy storage challenges being overcome.
Energy Efficiency in Buildings
Many existing buildings in the UK are still using antiquated heating and plumbing systems. Moreover, the quality of insulation might not be up to standard. In certain older buildings, installing new insulation can be very difficult, and cause problems with moisture. Things like solar panel installations are getting more feasible, and many businesses might decide to make the move, especially at a time when energy costs are a concern.
The energy economy in the UK is making a pivot toward electrical power. Gas boilers are being replaced with electric ones, and electric induction hobs are finding their way into more and more kitchens. But by far the biggest change is the adoption of the electric car. As more and more motorists make this switch, the availability of charging stations will become more and more important.
It’s also vital that alternative modes of transport are encouraged – which means making cities friendly for cyclists, too.
Regeneration of ecosystems
Providing people with green space in city centres is not only great for everyone’s mental (and physical) well-being: but it also helps to regenerate the natural world. More sustainable farming practices, like agroforestry, might also have a critical role to play.
Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage is an umbrella term that refers to a wide range of technologies. Carbon can be drawn from the atmosphere (in the same way that a tree might do), but it can also be drawn from the source. If you’re burning lots of coal, for example, then you might use technology to reduce the impact.
Ideally, of course, we’d abandon the use of fossil fuels entirely – but the timeframe over which this phasing-out occurs is a subject of fractious debate.
Photo credits: Coworking London