With the momentum of COP26 still driving positive change in 2022, innovators must band together to develop solutions that answer the environmental call-to-arms for the distributed power generation space. IPG CEO Toby Gill discusses just what form this progress will take.
Last year was one of progress when it comes to addressing climate change. The COP26 summit in Glasgow accelerated a collabor
ative movement towards cleaner energy, with many nations taking huge steps to enable the acquisition of green fuel.
The collaborative mindset shared at the COP26 summit is rolling over into 2022, as various nations and sectors come together to address the urgent need for more sustainable energy. With that in mind, what do we expect to happen in this space in the coming year?
It’s economically sound, but there’s more to do
For smaller businesses who rely on fuel-based power to get the job done, the dependability of the diesel generator remains a vital lifeline. There is much talk of replacing diesel in the transportation sector, but when can we expect to see similar changes for distributed power generation? The reality is, although renewable energy sources - whether solar power, biofuels or green hydrogen - are increasingly more financially viable, uncertainty around supply of these fuels means we still have some way to go before they represent a true alternative to diesel for these businesses.
Large multinationals have the capital to invest huge sums into projects that mitigate this uncertainty, such as Apple’s investments into their own biogas projects. Small- to medium-sized businesses, however, don’t have the available capital to make such an investment and, for those who rely on distributed power to deliver projects and services, the current uncertainty around supply of green fuels pre
sents far too significant a risk to operations. To address this, climatetech providers must adapt to deliver options that encourage progress without disrupting business as usual. At the end of the day, most companies that use distributed power are not in the business of power generation. They have a job to do, a project to build, a service to offer. So, in other words, the focus must now be on energy security.
Despite progress, backlash abounds
The reality is that greener energy providers would be unable to meet demand if all those who operate on diesel chose to use only green fuels tomorrow. Currently there is insufficient availability of these fuels, resulting in an uncertainty in supply that is likely to continue for some time. Until steady availability of renewable fuels becomes the norm, these companies must be able to maintain access to reliable fossil fuels to fill the gaps when cleaner options aren’t available. This flexibility will allow organisations to work towards a more sustainable future with the reassurance that their regular
activities can continue unaffected, in turn creating the level of demand needed for renewable energy providers to increase production.
Unfortunately, businesses that take this type of approach to the transition risk being perceived as non-committal, or worse green-washing, due to a general lack of understanding within the industry. In reality, the current provision of alternative options means the swap simply isn’t viable for many smaller companies, making them cautious of taking even small steps towards operating more sustainably for fear of criticism. We cannot expect businesses to make seismic changes to their operations at a time when fuel prospects remain uncertain. Instead, the energy and climatetech industries must develop solutions that allow companies of all sizes and risk appetites to switch to renewable fuels without cleaving them of the security of a fossil fuel backup. This is the only way to empower the multitude of SMEs to decrease their reliance on fossil fuels over time without requiring them to make unrealistic commitments to the detriment of their business.
Holistic change will drive action
There is no “one-size-fits-all” technological solution to the climate crisis. As each business and industry will have its own difficulties and req
uirements on the road to net zero, we need to take a holistic approach and utilise all the tools available to us to drive positive change in this space.
Flexibility and collaboration, therefore, are highly important. Net Zero 2050 is a defining goal for our climate future, but we cannot expect such a critical upheaval to happen overnight. Ultimately, we need to see businesses transition to green energy solutions at scale. To meet this end the climatetech industry must, in 2022 and beyond, develop innovations optimised for the individual needs and purposes of businesses of all sizes to decrease the risk of transitioning and pave the way to our net zero objectives. This is the approach that will drive real change in this space over the coming year.
To learn more about how IPG’s fuel-flexible, pollutant-free technology can help support the green transition for businesses in sectors ranging from EV charging to construction, or to find out how you can participate in our upcoming commercial trials, please get in touch.