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Industry Insights

The Urgent Need for Decarbonization in Energy Industry on a Global Scale

By Akhila Sriram on July 22, 2021

In our work with customers of all sorts, we have seen underlying systems inevitably impact the decisions and work our clients are doing in addressing their customers’ needs. One of the biggest and most pressing system-driven business needs is sustainability. Sustainability starts from product development and delivery all the way to company operations. One of the slowest transitions for the business world, but the most necessary when looking at the state of the global climate, is the shift to decarbonizing the global economy and energy industry.

Granger Morgan, who heads the Department of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University and directs the Scott Institute for Energy Innovation, was quoted for saying, “We’ve got a very serious problem and we need to stop fooling around and get with it, or our children and grandchildren are not going to like the world we leave them.” Scientists, researchers, and activists have been pushing for faster progress on decarbonization over the past couple decades, and though progress has been slow, it has been happening.

What does Decarbonization Entail?

Decarbonization started as a move away from carbon-emitting energy sources that are leading to further atmospheric and water pollution around the world. The increasing amounts of carbon dioxide and its greenhouse gas brethren in the atmosphere have slowly shifted our atmosphere towards containing and reflecting heat back to the earth’s surface. These gases have also dissolved into the world’s water supplies, which has impacted the stability and strength of the ice packs and glaciers around the globe.

These and other factors are slowly pushing global temperatures higher, causing weather patterns to become more drastic and unpredictable, making storms stronger, fires spread farther, and winters and summers more brutal, everywhere. By shifting away from energy sources that emit greenhouse gases, on a global scale, we can slow the release and accumulation of these gases in the atmosphere. This includes energy sources for powering our energy grids and utility systems, but also the energy sources for our means of transportation, shifting all technology away from contributing to the rising levels of atmospheric gases contributing to rising temperatures.

The Side Effects of Decarbonization

On a global scale, decarbonization will not only slow the progress of climate change, but also shift our dependency from energy sources that have finite amounts towards renewable and limitless sources of energy. The natural gas and coal available for producing energy are not endless resources and can be burned up if we continue using them at our current rate. By transitioning to energy sources such as wind and solar, as well as hydro and geothermal power sources, all sources which cannot run out, our entire energy industry will be more stable in the long run.

Looking at the development of technology and innovation around non-carbon-based energy sources shows how much our world can learn during this process of evolving beyond carbon-based energy sources. The electric vehicles and transportation systems that have been developed in these efforts to create greener and more efficient technologies are the stuff that science fiction writers could have only dreamt of. In the efforts to help protect our environment and globe, scientists and engineers are pushing the boundaries of what was possible when it comes to renewable energy and creating entire infrastructure systems that are self-sustainable, which would have been impossible without these research efforts. By starting with such a crucial system as energy production, our global systems and infrastructures are benefitting from the transition and research. But all of this can’t happen overnight.

Looking to the Future of the World

Many plans, when it comes to predicting how decarbonization could roll out, speak in terms of the coming years and decades. None of these endeavors can possibly happen on a shorter time scale than that. But starting and accelerating the focus on this shift now will save money, time, and lives in the long run. Starting on whatever level you have control over and shifting towards decarbonization is how we can get all businesses, systems, and countries on the right path towards protecting our world.

Decarbonization isn’t only personal sustainability decisions or company-wide practices, it’s making sure that everyone everywhere is going in the same direction together to make the biggest impact. And that starts with each one of us making sure that we and everyone around us are doing what we can to support this global shift. As stated by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, “This energy transition is critical to mitigating climate change, protecting human health, and revitalizing the U.S. economy,” and all of these extend to the global community.

OSG’s Work with Utilities and Energy

Our work with our clients focuses on the impact to customers, and in the energy and utility sector, this means helping companies shift their practices towards looking to the future rather than planning just for the present. In terms of the global progress towards decarbonization, all companies related to energy, utilities, and transportation especially are facing a massive shift in how they operate. Our solutions help you focus on your customers and planning for success, by backing up your data with behavioral and cognitive analytics to understand the best decisions to make for your business. Contact us to learn about how our teams can support your business go through any transition in business practices!