Forget traditional methods of conserving energy; it turns out there are alternative techniques – some of which produce delicious goods.
Green-minded companies are using traditional energy-generation methods such as solar power and wind turbines to good effect. However, rather quirkier solutions that, all-in-all, contribute to the conservation of energy are beginning to emerge.
Government incentives to achieve carbon targets set out in the Paris Agreement of 2015, and dramatic price falls in renewable generating technologies, have combined to encourage businesses to cut their energy consumption and, in the process, reap savings on their bills and emissions. Likewise, government climate policies have encouraged the ‘greening’ not only of farming but also increasingly of manufacturing.
One innovative green-energy solution now being appropriated by businesses is to employ anaerobic digester (AD) plants to turn their organic process and industrial waste into electricity and heat. An AD is an airtight tank in which bacteria break down biodegradable materials into usable products, primarily biogas – a combustible mix of methane and carbon dioxide.
Technology in the form of ground- and air-source heat pumps, which rely on natural heat, is gradually displacing fossil fuels for heating or cooling homes and buildings in South Africa, Australia and the UK.
Another novel sustainable approach seen in southern hemisphere countries is the use of seawater to cool buildings, while cities in the northern hemisphere are taking water from lakes and rivers for the same purpose. Insulation has benefitted from use of new materials and the comeback of natural fibres such as wool and hemp. Management of energy consumption has advanced with the introduction of Internet of Things technology and is being augmented with cloud-based systems.
These innovative measures are being adopted in factories, offices, industrial parks and universities, for example, offering the benefits of reduced operating costs, predictability of energy bills and enhanced green credentials.