The path to net-zero
Scientists estimate that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050 would reduce the odds of initiating the most dangerous and irreversible effects of climate change. However, The Earth’s temperature only responds slowly to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. It will only stop warming when collectively, we reach ‘net zero’ carbon dioxide emissions.
To the right is a recent snapshot of the Keeling Curve, tracking the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere at Mauna Loa observatory in the Pacific. 450ppm is seen by many as crunchtime for the climate crisis and we’re creeping ever closer.
What is ‘net-zero’?
Climate Assembly UK defines it as “reducing global greenhouse gas emissions and balancing the remaining emissions by reabsorbing the same amount from the atmosphere.” So, we need to be removing as many emissions as we produce.
In 2019, the UK Government amended the Climate Change Act 2008 to introduce a legally enforceable target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, so carbon neutrality is now a target enshrined in law.
But how can we achieve this target?
Reducing carbon emissions rapidly and emitting as little as possible on the way to ‘net-zero’ will help minimise further changes in the climate. According to the UK Government’s Annual Statement of Emissions 2016, business buildings and their use are responsible for 18% of annual energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. Energy generation and supply is responsible for 29% of all UK carbon dioxide emissions.
If we can make our buildings use less energy and increase the amount of energy we use from renewable sources, we will make some major progress towards achieving net zero.
Renewable Energy needs some help
Getting to net zero by 2050 is going to take some serious effort. Renewable energy remains the cheapest way to decarbonise the power sector and the UK must aim for at least 50% renewable generation by 2050 to achieve this. But a lot of this growth needs to take place over the next decade. In fact, Ofgem’s action plan to decarbonise the energy sector and help get to net zero, published in February 2020, forecasts the need for a four-fold growth in off-shore wind generation – from 10GW to 40GW – by 2030.
While this is good for the planet, the turbines only generate electricity when the wind blows, so their output fluctuates with the weather. To smooth out this up-and-down nature, Grid Operators turn to back-up sources with the flexibility to turn electricity generation up or demand down to rapidly fill the shortfall when needed and keep the lights on. This resource is known as Demand Side Response or DSR.
Avoiding using standby Diesel Generators for DSR
According to a study by the Centre for Cities thinktank, more than one in 19 deaths in Britain’s largest towns and cities are linked to air pollution. Standby diesel generators, which many buildings have as backup in case of power cuts, can contribute harmful emissions.
Resulting from both diesel generator manufacturers promoting more efficient equipment and pressure from environmental groups, Europe’s emissions standards have become gradually stricter. Their purpose is to prevent exposure to exhaust emissions in the workplace, and protect the health of employees and others who may be exposed. On top of emitting these harmful emissions, there can also be noise issues in built-up areas which Local Authorities are increasingly clamping down on.
Often, standby diesel generators are used to provide Demand Side Response but OakTree Power promotes and provides only ‘clean’ DSR solution alternatives.
Your next step to net zero
By connecting your building and enabling OakTree Power to access its inherent flexibility, you not only receive a regular payment, you reduce your building’s carbon emissions and provide an important management tool to enable the growth of renewable generation; both key contributors towards achieving net zero.
OakTree Power provides a ‘clean’ Demand Side Response solution, which when used in your building not only emits no carbon emisssions, but more importantly reduces them as an existing amount of electricity is diverted, rather than produced. With no up-front or on-going costs, not only will you help your organisation hit its net zero targets but you will also assist the UK in achieving its challenging net zero ambitions.
Helping you meet your Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Goals
Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues have increasingly become a priority for stakeholders such as customers, investors and top talent. These stakeholders are urging Directors to think beyond focusing solely on delivering short-term financial performance and instead create long-term value by focusing on the greater good.
Research by consultants McKinsey has revealed that the revenue of firms taking a long-term perspective cumulatively grew on average 47% more than those who did not and with less volatility.
How are these companies achieving this?
By looking at how their businesses can best serve both a social and economic purpose; by doing such things as bettering the communities they work in, creating a diverse workforce, ensuring product safety, employing fair labour practices – and by managing their impact on the environment.
Minimising your environmental impact
By connecting your organisation’s facility, no matter where it is located across the country and allowing OakTree Power to invisibly adjust the electricity your buildings consume by a small amount, you not only receive a regular, new income, you reduce your facility’s carbon emissions and provide an important management tool to enable the growth of renewable generation.
Did you know that DSR can help contribute to an improved BREEAM rating in your building? The BRE has recently confirmed that the implementation of DSR in a building can improve its BREEAM rating by 2% or alternatively by 20% of the available Exemplary Credits in the scoring methodology. This potentially enables Landlords to make buildings more attractive to tenants or provide a premium on rental levels.