By now, most of us are aware that the aim of the Paris Agreement is to limit temperature rises to no more than 2˚C – and ideally 1.5˚C.

 

But what’s a lot harder to understand is how exactly this can be achieved.

 

Until now, many of the scenarios proposed focus on the rapid and widespread deployment of negative emissions technologies (NETs).

 

NETS remove CO2 from the air and store it away on land, underground or in the oceans. The problem is that many of these technologies are still in development – for example, commercial carbon capture and storage on fossil fuel power stations.

 

However, new research published last month has put forward another approach, where warming is limited to 1.5˚C simply by improving energy efficiency.

 

A low energy demand future

Scientists at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia are proposing an alternative future they are calling the Low Energy Demand (LED) scenario.

 

Here, warming is limited to 1.5˚C while many of the world’s sustainable development goals are also fulfilled. These include achieving zero hunger, good health and wellbeing and affordable and clean energy for all.

 

The research focuses on improving energy efficiency across two groups – the developed global north and the predominately developing global south.

 

Attractive innovations

Innovation is the main driver. “We don’t focus on behavioural change as a result of conscious or ‘mindful’ awareness of energy consumption – rather we focus on consumer-facing innovations which may prove attractive because they’re cheaper, cleaner, quicker, more sociable, easier, more convenient or otherwise ‘better’,” explains researcher Dr Charlie Wilson.

 

These innovations are anticipated across all areas – from consumer goods to mobility, in public and commercial buildings and through industry and transport.

 

On demand EVs

For example, the researchers believe shared and ‘on-demand’ fleets of electric vehicles with increased occupancy could reduce global energy demand for transport by 60% by 2050, while reducing the number of vehicles on the road.

 

They are also calling for strict standards for the energy performance of new buildings, as well as renovations of existing buildings, which they estimate could reduce energy demand from heating and cooling by 75% by 2050.

 

Already, the UK is looking at reducing building energy demand by 50% by 2030, as outlined in our recent blog. [link to https://www.npower.com/business-solutions/blog/2018/05/31/energy-use-in-buildings-in-the-spotlight/]

 

Harnessing artificial intelligence

When it comes to business energy use, new innovations are emerging all the time.

 

For example, Google has achieved a 40% reduction in data centre cooling costs after applying machine learning using artificial intelligence (see our blog here). [add link to https://www.npower.com/business-solutions/blog/2017/02/06/energy-management-systems-that-can-think-for-themselves/]

 

Machine learning is also incorporated into many modern Building Management Systems (BMS).

 

By automating data collection from sensors all over a building that monitor not just temperature, but lighting, power sources, machinery and other functions, the BMS can then make automatic energy-saving adjustments – or provide insights and recommendations to the building’s Energy Manager.

 

Saving 38% with energy-saving technologies

At our own site in Solihull, we use our top floor as a test site for energy-saving innovations.

 

Using new technologies such as clever heat-absorbing ceiling tiles, daylight sensing LED lighting and the latest Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) heating and cooling system, we’ve saved up to 38% per square meter in energy costs compared to the two floors below.

 

Our energy experts are sharing innovations such as these with our customers via our Energy HQ service. This provides all the tools you need to optimise energy use and cut cost and consumption as part of a holistic strategy.

 

To find out more, contact your Client Lead (existing customers) or email us via nBS@npower.com.

 

And if you want to read more about the pioneering new scenario promoting the greater use of energy efficiency to save the planet, visit the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change site here. [insert link to http://www.tyndall.ac.uk/news/transforming-how-we-move-around-heat-our-homes-and-use-devices-could-limit-warming-15c]