By: Kevin Williams
Categories: Carbon Reduction
There’s a strong link between carbon dioxide emissions and global warming. In addition, according to NASA, there has never been more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and the amount has been dramatically increasing for the past 10 years. When you combine this with the fact that each year is progressively hotter than the last, it’s obvious that increased carbon emissions and increased temperatures are correlated.
This calls for dramatic changes in the way we power our homes and businesses, as burning fossil fuels for electricity is one of the main contributors of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We need more options for clean energy to power our day-to-day lives. A solution could lay in Renewable Energy Integration, an initiative started by the U.S. Dept. of Energy. One of its stated goals is to "reduce carbon emissions and emissions of other air pollutants through increased use of renewable energy and other clean distributed generation."
Smart Grid technology plays a major role because it enables communication and collaboration between all parties involved in electricity generation and consumption. It presents a viable alternative to the traditional model of electricity being generated at a power plant by burning fossil fuels, then sent to your home through power lines. Instead, Smart Grid technology enables a more widespread use of clean energy sources such as wind and solar power, and creates a feedback loop between producers and consumers of electricity.
Change is always uncomfortable even when it’s for the best, and this is especially true when it comes to recognizing and responding to the need for clean energy. As we begin our journey to becoming a society that manages its need for electricity more responsibly, there are some things we need to keep in mind about integrating renewable energy with smart grid technology. These include:
Variability – Renewable energy sources are often dependent on factors beyond our control in order to generate electricity, such as how wind power depends on the flow of air and solar power depends on unblocked access to rays from the sun. In this case, energy storage systems help because they can provide a backup source of electricity when renewable energy sources aren’t able to generate it.
Communication – Smart grid technology enables communication throughout the chain of electricity transmission and distribution. This means that utility companies can monitor electricity used by a home and then adjust output accordingly to minimize waste. Constant communication benefits all stakeholders in electricity generation, transmission, distribution, and storage.
Costs – Clean energy sources tend to have higher initial costs but lower operating costs. This makes them most cost-effective over their life-cycle. However, this can present a barrier to entry for those without the capital to invest in them.
Ultimately, integrating renewable energy is a process that we must undergo if we wish to address the link between carbon dioxide emissions and global warming. It will benefit us and future generations to make these small changes now before it’s too late. An integrated approach is the responsible way to balance our electricity needs while minimizing carbon dioxide emissions.