Article | July 16, 2022
In the last forty years, there has been a dynamic increase in the use of solar energy in the United States. As recently as 2018, an additional 10.6 GW of solar power was harnessed, bringing the country's total use up to 64.2 GW. Yet this apparently successful addition still only contributes 1.6% of the total electricity used across the States. However, with many new solar power technologies on the horizon, the increase could soon be much greater.
Article | June 8, 2022
“With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”
– Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet)
We, humans, had completely buried this quote until it was brought back to life recently. Business leaders should remember this quote as it perfectly fits into the environmental-business perspective that we are presently facing.
If the world has to tackle the problem of climate change or come even close to achieving that goal, businesses and industries will have to play a key role. Almost a quarter, or 23% to be precise, of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, come directly from industries. This number rises to 29.6% if we combine indirect emissions too.
When looking for causes of climate change, the private sector is often linked to. Minimizing your carbon footprint appears to be the year's buzzword, but where can businesses begin with such an ambiguous task? How do we assess progress? Peter Drucker wrote the premise of an answer back in 1954: "What gets measured, gets managed."
If a business really wants to become more sustainable, the first step should be to try to understand its current situation and begin tracking its carbon emissions. Measuring carbon emissions is a difficult problem. Major businesses that do not have carbon monitoring and reduction programs have become the exception.
Recognizing and measuring CO2 emissions aids in the identification of excessive energy consumption and other inefficiencies. Most of the time, lowering greenhouse gas emissions goes hand in hand with making a business's processes more efficient and cost-effective.
Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions: What Do Businesses Gain?
In addition to the long-term environmental benefits that will help us in saving our planet, organizations can also benefit from the positive impacts of greenhouse gas emission reduction. Some of the top benefits of effective emission management are as follows.
When it comes to cost reductions, simply minimizing your energy consumption reduces both your organization's carbon footprint and its operating expenses. According to a 2016 Energy Star report, the owner of Kimberly-Clark Berkley Mill invested $350,000, which generated yearly savings of $160,000 and a rapid return on investment (ROI) of just over one and a half years when LED lighting was installed to replace the fluorescent and HID lighting that was traditionally used.
With a 20-fold rise in global climate change regulations since 1997, securing proactive regulatory compliance is much more important than ever in the minds of corporate leadership, public spheres, and stakeholders – and it's only becoming more important. Adopting an effective greenhouse gas emission reduction program, as well as tracking and reporting on progress, is essential for businesses to adopt in order to maintain operations and avoid penalties.
Improved External Relations
Consumer spending power has an enormous impact on the process of shaping organizational action. In the eyes of the public, the process of committing to responsibility in the domains of broader sustainability and greenhouse gas emissions reduction is a significant credibility boost. When your company takes proactive steps to reduce carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, the resulting increase in the quality and depth of relationships with potential partners and external business connections is priceless.
Enhanced Stakeholder Relationships
Along with a stronger relationship with the audience, the influence of transparent sustainability indicators and performance has the potential to strengthen crucial relationships with stakeholders. More investors than ever are shifting capital away from carbon-heavy, secretive businesses and toward companies that have decided to be open, proactive, and honest regarding their greenhouse gas emissions management within the sustainability world and beyond. Emission Sources Defined in Business Operations Within a business's operation chain, emission sources are classified into three categories. These scopes are established so that businesses can trace the source of their greenhouse gas emissions and modify their operations to minimize their carbon footprint.
Emission scope is defined as follows:
Scope 1 Emission
Scope 1 emissions are directly caused by business operations. Organizations with fossil fuel-burning vehicle fleets, for example, are directly liable for carbon emissions by burning those fossil fuels.
Scope 2 Emission
Scope 2 emissions are caused by an organization purchasing energy (e.g., electricity, heat, or air conditioning) produced by a process that emits greenhouse gases. A scope 2 emission is, for example, electricity generated by burning coal that a business later purchases. Because the company consumes this energy, they must record the emissions generated when it was generated.
Scope 3 Emissions
Scope 3 emissions are not caused by a company's direct activities. Other entities in a company's value chain are responsible for these emissions. Scope 3 emissions for one organization could be scope 1 and 2 emissions for another. A company that manufactures products, for example, would have scope 3 emissions from a company that eventually disposes of those items. Scope 3 is responsible for most of a company's emissions, accounting for 65% to 95% of a company's carbon footprint. Currently, reporting scope 3 emissions is optional for businesses. Organizations must, however, start tracking their scope 3 emissions since this is where tremendous reductions in carbon emissions can occur.
How Are Large Enterprises Measuring and Reducing Their Carbon Footprints?
Larger enterprises, like Apple and ExxonMobil, have begun to provide scope 3 emissions data. Other companies are collaborating with their supply chain to build collaborative initiatives among companies to report these emissions. Businesses have begun to cooperate even outside of supply chains. Competitors in the same industry have started to form partnerships to solve the issue of measuring their carbon footprints. Because these organizations often share manufacturers and suppliers, they have decided to deal with the issue together.
Other businesses manage environmental sustainability in a different manner.Enterprises in the agriculture industry have pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, recycle, and provide resources and information to smaller agricultural organizations wanting to go green.Many of the world’s leading auto manufacturers help by producing vehicles that are more environmentally friendly and have the better fuel economy. Others are creating alternative-fuel cars or investing in sustainable energy projects.
The major retailers, manufacturers, and software companies have all made efforts to reduce their carbon footprint in different ways. Many multinational enterprises are adopting more sustainable business practices, such as using renewable energy and recycled materials in product manufacturing.
How Can Small Businesses Seek Help Measuring Their Carbon Footprints?
For the time being, many small businesses are finding it difficult to gather data on all these emissions that are beyond their control. According to the BBC, only 10% of more than 1,000 organizations surveyed in the United Kingdom keep track of their carbon footprint. Moreover, one in every five companies does not understand what the term "net-zero" means and a third really hasn't sought any help to make their company more sustainable. Exploring available information on measuring emissions data is the best approach for small businesses to understand more about the ways they can reduce their carbon footprint. The EPA Center for Corporate Climate Leadership includes a wealth of resources to assist small business owners in measuring and reporting their emissions. Business owners can learn how to establish a greenhouse gas inventory, measure their emissions, collaborate with sustainable suppliers, and gather data to develop sustainable solutions.
Small businesses can also utilize a carbon footprint calculator to determine the quantity of emissions generated by their activities. Once company owners realize how much carbon they are emitting, they can start to tackle where it is coming from and make the necessary modifications. The most important thing that business owners can do is to always look for ways to improve their business's sustainability. Additional information will be made available to help company owners as they seek guidance on how to minimize their carbon footprint.
Best Practices for Companies to Achieve Net Zero and Stay Profitable
Transitioning to net zero is such a demanding task that many businesses believe it is impossible to do while retaining profit margins. As a result, many businesses concentrate on low-hanging fruit and short-term alternatives, like offloading emissions onto others by divesting from high-carbon-emitting companies. Businesses, on the other hand, can start by creating a greenhouse gas inventory to monitor their carbon emissions. Here are just a few of the many ways we found that could help your business.
Cut Emissions Across the Whole Value Chain
For most businesses, the majority of emissions and the possibilities for climate action lie in "scope 3 assets". These aren't owned or managed by the reporting company, but they add to the business's value chain indirectly. Businesses must take action on scope 3 emissions in order to successfully cut emissions.
Use Sustainable Web Hosting Services
Hosting services are the silent consumers of fossil fuels. Until you host it yourself, your website is most certainly hosted on a data server in a warehouse that runs on fossil fuels. Data servers use a lot of energy since they have to be turned on and kept cool all the time. Renewable Energy Certificates are acquired by sustainable hosting providers in order to claim their renewable energy utilization.
Tackle the Root Causes
The areas of major emissions are often not the most effective sites for action. It is found that businesses are measuring emissions in order to determine underlying causes, either inside their own processes or anywhere in the value chain. Big tech businesses evaluate power efficiency down to the code level in their AI and cloud implementations and collaborate with chip manufacturers to reduce energy usage in the use of their products.
Don’t Automatically Defund High-Carbon Business
Investors are often enticed to enhance their portfolio of low-carbon activities merely by rearranging their capital allocation. However, when it comes to really incentivize reduction, a more effective technique is to engage in activities that presently generate high carbon emissions while giving out a clear and urgent roadmap to change. Some activists have realized this idea and are shifting their demands from divestment to a managed shift of high-carbon businesses.
Purchase Carbon Offsets
Carbon offsets are a type of trade. When you buy an offset, you are contributing to projects that decrease greenhouse gas emissions. A carbon calculator can help you calculate your travel carbon footprint and the monetary cost of those emissions. Remember that carbon offsets do not decrease the quantity of carbon in the atmosphere; rather, they serve as a balancing agent to neutralize the carbon emitted. Carbon offsets could be tax-deductible based on the company from whom you purchase them.
Many prominent brands, from Amazon to L'Oréal, have started to make significant investments in renewable energy and commitments to reduce emissions in their freight and logistics operations. Being mindful of how your activities contribute to greenhouse gas emissions can assist you in minimizing your carbon footprint. With the above-mentioned methods under your belt, you will be able to support the environment that we live in a while simultaneously pushing your organization to the next level of success. Don't miss the opportunity to get involved in energy-efficiency and sustainability initiatives for your company because the newest generation of consumers, millennials, have $2.45 trillion in spending power and are eager to spend more on brands that share their values of going green.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are scope 3 emissions?
The Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard divides a company's greenhouse gas emissions into three "scopes." Scope 1 emissions are those emitted directly from owned or controlled sources. Scope 2 emissions are those caused by the production of bought energy. Scope 3 emissions encompass all indirect emissions (not included in scope 2) that happen in the reporting company's value chain, both in upstream and downstream emissions.
What are product life cycle emissions?
All emissions related to the production and utilize a single product, from the cradle to the grave, are referred to as the product life cycle emissions and include emissions from raw materials, manufacturing, transportation, storage, sale, usage, and disposal.
How can industries reduce global warming?
By implementing passive or sustainable energy-based heating and cooling systems, increasing energy efficiency, and solving other important concerns such as methane leaks, the industry can cut its emissions by 7.3 Gt per year. New food production technologies have the capability to cut emissions by 6.7 Gt per year
Energy, Industry Updates
Article | July 29, 2022
Cleaner energy resources are the dire need of the hour and this is a known fact. While scientists and experts across the planet are striving hard to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, our energy needs have never faced a downfall- thanks to rapid industrialization and urbanization. Although renewable resources like solar, wind, and hydro-electric power are the most popular alternatives, these are seasonal energy sources and the energy production from the same will not be similar all around the year. The fluctuations in production hence cannot always meet the energy demand of the population, and this makes the renewable energy sources not completely reliable.
Solar Production v/s Demand of the same in a year
What and How H2 is produced?
Now, this is where Hydrogen- the first element of the periodic table comes to the spotlight with a solution. Being a gas, hydrogen fuel can very well cater to our energy needs and is produced from techniques including Thermochemical, Solar-Water splitting, electrolytic and biological processes. While the production of this cleaner energy source leaves a carbon footprint of about 830 million tonnes in the form of CO2 annually, the result being a zero-emission fuel is what makes H2’s future bright.
Storage of H2 – the million-dollar question:
Having almost cleared the need and methods of producing hydrogen fuel, we will be looking at an area that is usually not given much thought about and that is the storage of H2. As already mentioned, for time being let us consider hydrogen as an alternative to renewable resources which is utilized when the energy demand increases drastically. While producing the fuel in the nick of time is obviously undoable, sufficient storage of H2 anticipating the demand is the best choice. Like Natural Gas, Hydrogen is also compressed before storing to achieve lower volume and also because liquid hydrogen demands a 64% higher amount of energy for storage than its compressed gaseous counterpart.
Storage tanks v/s Geological landforms:
Compressed Hydrogen can be stored in surface storage vessels (like steel composite concrete vessels and in wind turbine towers) or in geological landforms like (salt caverns, depleted O&G reservoirs, and aquifers). Nevertheless, unlike the underground geological landforms which offer huge storage capacity owing to their sheer scale, the storage tanks which can range in size from a small bottle to a huge tank require high amounts of pressure to store an appreciable amount of H2 in it. Since these storage tanks are usually constructed on the surface, the pressure conditions in these tanks need to be artificially stimulated and thereby mount huge upfront costs when compared to their geological storage counterpart.
H2 storage prices in Geological Landforms v/s Storage Vessels (in $/kg)
The above is a table comparing the prices of Hydrogen storage in Geological landforms and Storage Vessels at different pressure conditions. It is visible from the table that it's about 218 times cheaper to store the same amount of hydrogen in Geological landforms than in storage vessels.
Is geological storage truly a better option?
Like any other storage option geological storage too has its pros and cons. From the erosion of pipelines to the tedious task of injecting the gas and maintaining it at apt pressure conditions, geological storage has its limitations. However, the important prerequisite is the availability of the suitable landform itself.
While most of the Depleted O&G Reservoirs have already met all the requirements for a suitable Underground Hydrogen Storage (UHS) system, the presence of unrecoverable remnant fluids in it makes it both a boon and a bane. This is because the presence of remnant fluids like oil and gas satisfies the cushion gas need for efficient storage of H2 in the reservoir, chances of contamination of H2 by the same is also high. This is the reason why Aquifers too aren’t favorable underground landforms when it comes to hydrogen storage.
Salt Caverns- the best UHS System?
The problem of Hydrogen contamination in Depleted Oil & Gas reservoirs and aquifers leaves us to the next big suitable subsurface landform- salt caverns. Unlike the other two landforms, the problem of contamination can be prevented in these dome-like structures formed due to the upliftment of salt deposits and it is also found that about 98% of its storage efficiency can be used to store Hydrogen here. The reason behind its relatively expensive nature when compared to its other two counterparts is due to the process of salt removing or leaching that must be done before storing to ensure that the contamination of the gas is unheard of at least here.
Suitable Conditions of UHS:
As per Stefan Iglauer, the maximum amount of H2 can be stored at a depth of 1100m beneath the Earth’s surface and the capacity gradually decreases up until 3700 m depth beyond which the wettability of the gas increases as it percolates through the rocks and hence cannot be permanently immobilized. Conclusively it is found that suitable landforms formed at 1km depth can store up to 2.0 Mt of H2. Comparing this 2 MT storage capacity of Salt Caverns with the currently available storage tanks which can store about 800 kg of H2 in it, it is visible that geological landforms have a clear upper hand at least when it comes to storage capacity.
Future of UHS:
With demands for Hydrogen fuel estimated to grow at 5.48 % annually and the need for a suitable storage system of the same at 5.8% annually, the field of Underground Hydrogen Storage systems indeed has a bright scope. Moreover, to meet the large-scale needs of Industries, there is an imminent need to level up the storage capacity of H2 and by exploring suitable geological landforms across the globe, the estimated industrial need of 1200 kT/ year in 2050 can be met.
Article | March 22, 2021
Despite rising energy costs and dwindling customer ratings of the ‘Big Six’, over 37% of Brits still believe they are getting a good deal when it comes to gas and electricity.
Here, Keith Bastian, CEO of rising independent Outfox the Market, challenges those age-old perceptions that are damaging consumer bank balances…
I have never quite understood the notion of pay more for the same service. Except that last part, is really where the difference lies.
As I have made my way through the energy market, it seems clear to me that we are facing a common notion.
Age-old dinosaurs, that have relied on name status and brand power to retain customer loyalty, despite not providing anything different or any value-added service, give the impression that customers are somehow safer with them. That is the biggest misconception.
We at Outfox the Market would like to challenge that.
Of course, when I speak in such a way, I am referring to the ‘Big Six’, those long-established brands whose share in the energy market whilst substantial, is increasingly coming at the cost to its customers.
For example, in the latest independent customer rankings from Which, it was determined that the traditional big energy companies had some of the lowest scores for customer service and value for money, yet some customers still feel secure with them.
On the contrary, rising independents, such as ourselves, were scoring highly in these areas and this is where I feel the difference lies.
Regardless of your opinion on fossil fuels and/or renewables, it is more the value of looking after your customers, understanding their concerns and dealing with them efficiently that has become somewhat lost for the ‘Big Six’.
It is true that they have a larger proportion of customers to serve with a larger workforce, but that should not be to the detriment to the service they provide.
What were are seeing now, as evidenced by the recent Ofgem price hikes, is the ‘Big Six’ once again failing consumers in these areas, with most of the top names putting costs up by £96 a year on average as of April.
I am not one to not acknowledge that energy firms are tongue-tied in some respects in passing regulated costs on; there are times when we must. However, customers could also benefit from a little research.
Even with growing numbers of consumers switching, nearly 60% of all households in the UK are still on standard variable rate tariffs, those that are subject to the incoming Ofgem hikes.
So, the real question is why aren’t more customers switching? Heritage, loyalty and brand association. These facets really should not come at cost of paying more for energy.
I really believe it is down to time-sensitivity and a misunderstanding around the barriers to switching, with cost somewhere in the middle.
According to MoneySuperMarket, 75% of us would switch if we could save £149.99. A hefty figure, but why not the £96 highlighted earlier? That is still pretty good, and something that would add up nicely over the years.
I understand we are time-poor as a nation, it’s well publicised, but we’re all well averse in switching phone contracts and insurance deals, so why not where our energy comes from?
Truth be told, I believe it’s an age-old notion that energy is ‘just something that comes with the house, not worth the hours or hassle to change.’
But in all honesty, it takes a matter of seconds to switch. Firms such as ourselves offer this and more via a quick and easy quote online. Best of all, many energy providers will help manage the switching process for you, contacting your current provider and notifying them of your intentions.
I would also like to challenge this notion that once an energy firm ‘gets you’, you are ‘locked in’ for years upon end in ever rising contract costs.
If you are on a standard variable tariff, you can switch to a new provider at any time. What’s more, even if you are in a fixed term energy deal, which can be subject to exit fees, sometimes the cost involved outweighs the savings you can make with your new provider.
Customers must do their best to ask more of energy firms, check the service they are being given and hold it up against national bill averages. Compare what your neighbours, friends and family are paying under similar living circumstances, and weigh up if you are being given a fair deal.
Living costs and regulated price hikes are always going to be an ever present worry, so I call on both customers and energy firms to do their due diligence in these respects.
Age-old energy firms relying on their reputation must take a serious inward look at their lessening market share to understand why they are failing customers.
It’s time to make a change now, both from business attitude and a consumer standpoint; switching is quick, easy and a vital notion to bear in mind, as both retaining custom and saving money becomes an ever-growing sticking point in the energy market.