electricity

Carbon Neutral Electricity 101: What You Should Know?

Carbon neutral electricity

The human race is a special one that has kept evolving over the ages to get where it is today. Since the conception of humanity, the human race has kept discovering new technologies that have helped it survive and improve its overall lifestyle. We depend on energy to power various aspects of our lives today.

Unfortunately, the non-renewable sources of energy that we depend on for power generation have greatly contributed to the increase of carbon emissions on the atmosphere.

The seemingly high carbon emission on the atmosphere is blamed for causing various negative effects on the atmosphere as well as the environment.

To help curb the high carbon output into the environment, a concept aimed at reducing the amount of carbon emissions produced during power generation was conceived. It is called carbon neutral electricity.

What is carbon neutral electricity?

Just like mentioned above that carbon emission stems from the processes or technologies that we rely on to help produce power. Carbon neutral electricity is a concept that is aimed at generating low-carbon power from processes or technologies that produce power with significantly low amounts of carbon dioxide emissions.

Carbon neutral electricity is a concept that is seeking to limit the reliance on conventional fossil fuel power generation that is the culprit behind massive carbon emissions.

There are countries that are already implementing the concept of carbon neutral electricity generation. Energy companies are also doing their part. For example, an electricity retailer in Singapore called iSwitch is already implementing carbon neutral compliant strategies aimed at reducing carbon emissions.

The history of low-carbon emission power

Studies stretching a span of over three decades brought significant findings with regards to global warming. This then highlighted the need to curb carbon emissions for the well-being of the planet and her inhabitants. From this, the idea of producing low-carbon power emerged.

An intergovernmental body known as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) established the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in 1988.

Since the formation of these two bodies which are focused towards the well-being of the environment, efforts have been made to lower the amount of carbon emissions worldwide.

The United Nations Environment Program in particular set the scientific precedence for the introduction of low-carbon power. The Intergovernmental Meteorological Organization on its part has continued to offer scientific, technical, and socio-economic advice to the nations worldwide   

Kyoto Protocol

 The earliest most promising step that was taken internationally to create low carbon power was through the signing of the Kyoto protocol in Japan. The protocol would later come into force on the February 16, 2005 in which the most industrialized countries made a commitment to reduce their carbon emission.

It is this historic signing of the protocol that set the stage for political introduction of low-carbon power technology. Since the concept of low-carbon power generation for reduced carbon dioxide emission emerged, many countries continue to craft ways they can use to reduce their carbon footprint.

Examples of low carbon power generating technology

A 2014 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change identified nuclear power, hydroelectricity, wind, geothermal and solar to be technologies that can provide significantly less carbon emissions.

Hydroelectric power

Hydroelectric power plants have the benefit of being long-lived in fact there are some that have operated as long as one hundred years since they were constructed. From the perspective of power grid operation, hydroelectric power is the most flexible form power generation.

Big hydropower plants readily offer the lowest cost options in the current energy market. The advantage of hydroelectric power is that during operation there is an almost zero percent carbon emission.

Currently, hydroelectricity remains the world’s largest low carbon source of electricity that supplied up to 16.6% of the total electricity in 2014. Even though China and the United States remain the world’s biggest carbon polluters, China is by far the world’s biggest producer of hydroelectricity.

Demerits of hydroelectricity

 Even though hydroelectricity is by far the lowest carbon source of energy that power various industries in different parts of the world it also has its drawbacks.

There are various social and environmental misgivings of large scale hydroelectric power plants. Big power plants often lead to dislocation of communities that have to be evicted to pave way for the construction.

During times of heavy rainfall there are issues of flooding that have been reported around hydroelectric power plants. Issues related to disruption of aquatic ecosystems and birdlife have also been reported from sites of enormous hydroelectric power plants.

Nuclear Power

The second largest low-carbon power source is nuclear power with a 10.6% share of world electricity production (stats as of 2013). Nuclear power generation doesn’t emit as much carbon dioxide emission to the environment as fossil fuel powered electricity generators do.

What remains of concern to most people all around the world is the safety of nuclear power station. The recent Fukushima incident and the Chernobyl disaster all remain as reminders of the dangers that lurk with nuclear power generation.

Wind power

Wind power generation is another non-renewable power source that hasn’t been fully exploited to its full potential. Even though the world has over two hundred thousand wind turbines in operation, there still remains a huge untapped wind potential in various parts of the world.

Electricity generation from wind turbines is a relatively friendly to the environment and there is an almost zero carbon emission.

Solar

Solar is simply the conversion of sunlight to electricity by way of photovoltaic or concentrated solar power. The United States is one country that has successfully installed operating solar power plants in its deserted areas.

Geothermal power

This is electricity that is generated from geothermal energy. The US, the Philippines and Indonesia collectively lead the world in installed capacity of geothermal power generation. This energy source is sustainable as the heat extracted is very small compared to heat content of the Earth.

Tidal Energy

This is a form of hydropower that operated by concerting the energy of tides into electricity. The United States installed the world’s first large-scale power plant in 1966. It is a carbon neutral power source that hasn’t been fully exploited to its full potential.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this article gives you a brief idea on carbon neutral electricity and how various organizations are rallying for it via various medium. The idea of carbon neutral electricity is great but the implementation needs to be just as great.

Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of Ways2GoGreen.com and Ways2GoGreenBlog.com. I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.

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