The revolution for renewable energy is here

electronics emissions and supply chain management

The world’s largest wind farm ever to be developed is nearing completion 75 miles off the eastern shores of England.

Dubbed Hornsea One, the massive clean energy project is slated to go live in 2020 as a landmark effort against climate change. This sea-based wind farm is made up of 174 individual seven-megawatt turbines—each towering over 100 meters tall with a total blade circumference of 75 meters. It will reportedly supply enough energy to power over one million U.K. homes. In fact, just one turbine rotation will produce enough energy to power the average home for a full day.

Built with the help of Orsted, a Danish energy company that is a global leader in offshore wind, Hornsea One comes as part of the U.K.’s national plan to generate a total of one-third of its electricity with the alternative method by 2030. However, this isn’t the only major clean energy initiative that’s making a splash in the world right now.

In New York last month, the United Nation’s Climate Action Summit saw 77 countries commit to cutting their greenhouse gas emissions down to net zero by the year 2050. Meanwhile, countless additional renewable energy projects from other forward-minded organizations are already underway.

While Hornsea One is making strides off-shore, many other countries are playing host to a range of impressive eco-friendly initiatives.

Clean Energy Developments in China

Like the U.K., China is developing massive wind farms. Its energy projects are located along the hills of the Hunan and Hubei provinces.

Three separate farms are being erected there with help from the China Clean Energy Fund, which was launched by Apple in 2018. The electronics giant is teaming up with 10 of its suppliers and investing $300 million towards international renewable energy. The investment fund’s end goal is to produce a range of projects that together generate one gigawatt of clean electricity by 2022.

On top of this, back in 2015 Apple announced that all of its global facilities are now powered by clean energy. The company is continuing to work with partners to ensure that its entire production chain is fueled by 100 percent renewable power as well.

Facebook’s Movement Toward Sustainable Data Centers

Apple is prompting other companies to follow its lead. Facebook is currently busy constructing its own renewable energy facilities.

Early last year, the company unveiled its plans for a data center in Singapore that will be fully self-sustainable. However, that project is only one step. Facebook has also confirmed efforts to get every one of its energy-exhaustive data centers running on clean energy.

If the company’s development projections prove to be accurate, Facebook should be running on 100 percent renewable power by next year.

Solar Power and Night Power

In Tunisia, the European TuNur power project seeks to capitalize on the country’s naturally high exposure to the Sun.

With its first phase expected to be completed in 2020, this sprawling solar power center will cover over 5,000 hectares of the Sahara Desert’s surface. For reference, that area of land nearly makes up the size of the island of Manhattan two times over. Once completed, TuNur will export the clean electricity it generates to locations throughout Europe via three submarine cable systems.

As TuNur CEO, Kevin Sara explains, “The economics of the project are compelling. The site in the Sahara receives twice as much solar energy compared to sites in central Europe, thus, for the same investment, we can produce twice as much electricity. In a subsidy-free world, we will always be a lowest cost producer, even when transmission costs are factored in.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of solar energy, there are breakthrough efforts underway to harvest electricity from nighttime temperature changes.

A combined team from the University of California Los Angeles and Stanford University have innovated an electricity harvesting technique that uses radiative cooling. It works by harnessing the infrared light that objects give off as they cool into the surrounding air. Though the method doesn’t generate nearly as much energy as solar power, it works even when the sun isn’t shining.

Such technology could be instrumental in reducing energy costs and generating power in places that are especially cold and dark. For instance, it could supply renewable power in places where night falls for multiple days at a time. Perhaps it will eventually have implications for space travel.

Dire Need for Further Clean Energy Action and Regulation

Despite these hopeful steps, activists point out that much still needs to change if humanity hopes to circumvent global disaster.

While it is certainly nice to see that some sincere action to reduce climate change is finally taking place, if major emitters aren’t convinced (or more realistically, legally forced) to mitigate their contribution toward the globe’s rising temperatures, then these efforts aren’t going to be enough.

Regardless of the promises made during the 2015 Paris climate agreement, global emissions still ramped up in 2018. Not to mention, the worldwide demand for energy is also growing at an insatiable rate.

Consumers can make all of the mindful lifestyle changes and recycling habits they want. Likewise, organizations can continue building renewable energy plants. However, these actions alone won’t offset the overwhelming majority of emissions currently produced by industrial bodies. When looking at the numbers, over two-thirds of the global warming emissions on Earth come from just 90 companies.

Yes, the initiatives mentioned above are promising. Even so, we can’t take solace in thinking that they will solve our planet’s climate problems by themselves. What they do demonstrate, however, is a joint willingness to take preventative action and make a real difference. This is a lot more than can be said for most organizations a decade ago.

The revolution for renewable energy is here, and the devastating projections we’re seeing from climate change can be defended against. However, unless we keep building momentum behind this movement across the globe, it all won’t mean much in the end.