Sustainability now tends to be a cornerstone of most business models, and it’s one that has been accelerated in the last year as national lockdowns slowed society down to a halt and global emissions have reduced by 5.8%. Lockdown might have been the breather that the planet needed, but there is much work to be done.
In the race for net zero emissions by 2050, it’s essential that businesses play their part in making the commitment of reducing their carbon footprint by 2030 - a target agreed between member states and the EU Parliament - including the adoption of smart technologies and power protection solutions in order to achieve energy efficiency.
An Increased Demand For Energy
Lockdown brought on significant changes to how we consume electricity in the UK, leading to a widespread energy imbalance. This strain on the national grid came from a mix of usage becoming more evenly spread as there was more variation in people’s morning routines, and spikes in TV pick-ups when we tuned into lockdown announcements.
During March 0f 2020, domestic energy consumption specifically rose by 4.5% on the whole, likely as a result of increased remote working from that month. In fact, around this time, we saw an increase in customers switching energy providers compared to the previous year.
“The margin between what’s generated and what’s being demanded is decreasing, meaning there’s a higher risk of voltage brownouts and power outages,” says Simon Dover, energy expert and Operations Manager at Ashley Edison. “Power generators and distribution suppliers have got to remodel and make sure they have the capacity and the infrastructure to meet these new requirements.”
Global energy demand is rising quickly, because of population and economic growth, especially in developing market economies. But, while characterised by more prominent prosperity, rising needs create new difficulties.
For example, energy security concerns can develop as more users require more energy supplies than ever. And higher consumption of fossil fuels generates increased greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide (CO2), which contributes to global warming. Yet, at the same time, the number of people without any electricity remains too high.
Reducing Carbon Emissions With Voltage Optimisation
By stabilising the mains electricity supply and ensuring it doesn’t exceed the equipment’s intended voltage, an automatic voltage optimiser (AVO) is capable of significantly reducing energy usage and cutting energy costs by up to 20%, solving problems around unnecessary energy consumption - particularly in Europe.
In the UK and some other countries, although electrical equipment is designed to operate at 220 volts, generated electricity can typically amount to up to 245. However, interest in voltage optimisation is growing worldwide and has the potential to greatly assist in lowering our impact on the environment, inching us somewhat closer to carbon neutrality.
Aside from the environmental benefits, an AVO effectively preserves the design life of electrical equipment by protecting it against frequent power surges and voltage transients and allowing it to operate more efficiently, effectively reducing ongoing maintenance costs.
Embracing Energy-Saving Technologies
Against the backdrop of world events and the recent G7 summit which saw world leaders come together to agree on an agenda for halving global emissions by 2030, organisations are realising a collective, conscious effort to transform their outlook on sustainability needs to be made.
The Guardian states the G7 Summit “has thrown the spotlight clearly on the world’s biggest emitter: China”. It continued: “Xi Jinping, the president of China, made a cordial and well-received speech in which he promised further action on clean energy and said China would cause its consumption of coal to peak around the middle of this decade…Xi’s commitment was positive but did not mark a breakthrough, climate experts said, as it would still allow for the construction of hundreds of coal-fired power stations planned for the next five years.” A different Guardian article writes that Biden said the US would work with Russia on ways to combat the climate crisis, “saying he looked forward to joint efforts and was ‘very heartened’ by the country’s call for collaboration on new technologies such as carbon removal”.
Meanwhile, the FT reported that the return of the US to international climate diplomacy has “resurfaced some old faultlines”. It continued: “Although cheered on in Europe, the US climate comeback masks divergent approaches between the two economic powerhouses on how to win the so-called race to net-zero.”
The newspaper cites France’s environment minister Barbara Pompili: “The Americans have a strategy based on developing new technologies. It’s great to develop hydrogen, as we are doing, and carbon capture. But I think we have an extra ingredient in France and Europe. We’re going further because we’re also looking at our ways of life.”
Voltage optimisation in particular is an effective method for regulating the UK’s voltage supply which remains relatively high compared with that of other countries in Europe.