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If you can't stand the heat get off the Pla... - Oh Wait

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Glen Spry's picture
CEO & President sensorsuite

Glen Spry. CEO and President at SensorSuite, Inc - A former energy utility executive with extensive knowledge of Asia Pacific, European, and North American energy markets, Glen is now applying...

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  • Sep 27, 2021 8:00 pm GMT
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In the last week or so, a lot of people have been nose deep in the 6th IPCC report. Not surprisingly, there have also been a lot of news articles, LinkedIn posts, and good thought provoking tweets relating to the report. The most relevant stat to me was the fact that we have already hit the “ideal limit” of 1.5 degrees above normal several times in the last decade and, if nothing changes from here, we will likely be at the 1.5 degree global average increase by 2034. It is a bit of a surprise, to be honest as I thought this was supposed to be the “cap” our “Net Zero” efforts would stop us at on our journey to 2050. 

The fact that a 2-3 foot sea level rise and a ~2 degree planetary average temperature increase is already in the bag before the end of the century was a bit of a shock. That combined with the realization that my grandchildren will be around to swim in that ocean, it’s only 78 years away…. hit me like a tonne of bricks. 

This was my moment, this was the realization that the world I have taken for granted was going to be very different, and only in a matter of two generations. Now, being the problem solver, I immediately put the subconscious to work trying to figure out the answer to the “how do you turn this ship around” question. The more my subconscious grappled with the almost immeasurable permutations the clearer the answer became. It's not possible.

Yep, there, I said it. I don’t think it is possible to get to net zero by 2050. Certainly not at a global scale, which of course this the only scale that matters when it comes to climate change. And why did my subconscious come back with such a clear and unacceptable answer?!?! Pretty easy really, the main reason is demand. 

In the US alone electricity use is set to increase by some 35% by the year 2050. At current rates, this would mean that the US grid would emit a further 602 million tonnes of carbon over and above the current 1.72 billion the grid emits each year by the middle of the century. On a positive note it would be pretty safe to say that a good chunk of this new load will be met by renewable energy (likely paired with storage), so the actual carbon increase “should” be a lot lower than the 602 million tonnes. The elephant in the room is that we are supposed to be getting to Net Zero… not “a wee bit more than today” The target is NET ZERO.

And just to drive home what net zero means. It is defined as “achieving net-zero carbon dioxide emissions”. This can be done by balancing emissions of carbon dioxide with its removal or by eliminating emissions from society” 

If you’ve got this far (and good on you if you have, you are my kind of people…) this is the part where we say NO, that’s not an option. We can’t sit on the couch eating Cheetos all day and expect that in the next 28 years we will somehow magically develop “climate Abs”. If we are to “Eliminate Emissions From Society” (there’s a catchy “#” for you) we need to do things differently. We need to do them at scale and we need to start YESTERDAY.

For the team at SensorSuite our goal is simple. Do all we can to turn the needle back one notch, use the tools we have to reduce the needless wastage of energy and support the grid as it deploys all the renewables we can over the next 28 years. EEGR buildings are our tool of choice, they are the way SensorSuite will contribute to “turning the ship around”. 

Some back of the napkin calculations we did, show that if buildings are currently wasting ~30% of the energy, they use (a reasonable assumption given our current experience in the building energy efficiency work we do) there is an opportunity to drop 9% of total emissions just by making buildings more energy efficient. The cool part of an EEGR building future is that along with that freed up capacity from the energy efficiency work, EEGR buildings deliver flexibility. Lots and lots of flexibility, everything from Operating reserves capacity to Demand Response capacity is on offer with an EEGR building. The best part is it's just the kind of flexibility that can help balance the intermittency of renewables, allowing for deeper and deeper penetrations into our grids.

The IPCC report shows us that to do nothing is to fail. Given the stakes I, for one, cannot and will not sit idle when the stakes are so high. At Sensorsuite, we know what we will be doing “Eliminating Emissions From Society while supporting the grid’s ability to deploy more Renewable Energy generation” is no mean feat…

This is an “All Hands On Deck” moment, ask yourself “What is my part? What tools can you deploy to ensure that this ship turns around? It is the only way we will avert a climate disaster of Titanic proportions.

Glen Spry's picture
Thank Glen for the Post!
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