There’s plenty of hope to go around in 2022.
Changes in attitudes, policy goals and technology have led to a rise in renewables that many observers cautiously predict will help mitigate humankind’s carbon footprint. In 2020, the European Union (United Kingdom included) had the capacity to meet almost half of its energy needs from renewables. Almost 20 per cent of electricity in Canada and the United States was sourced from renewables in 2021. And the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that global sales of electric vehicles had surged to 6.6 million units in 2021.
What’s more, the United Nations recently reported that more than 70 countries — including the biggest polluters, China, the U.S. and the E.U. — as well as more than 600 cities have made net-zero emissions pledges.
Then there was the recent Inflation Reduction Act passed by the U.S. Congress. The landmark bill, signed into law by President Biden in August, will allot $369 billion to combat climate change — a major boost to the $755 billion that was invested globally in green technology in 2021. The sense of optimism around the potential of renewables is also being fuelled by Concordia researchers and alumni who, like Molloy, are rethinking how we power our planet.
In the past, renewable-energy choices could seem monolithic. The way to reduce the world’s carbon emissions was often presented as a choice between wind, hydro or solar.
It’s become apparent, however, that in order to have an enduring impact on climate change, we’ll need to deploy every tool at our disposal at the same time.
Says Dave Lapointe, BEng 16, vice-president of Engineering at CH Four Biogas, a company that designs and engineers mixed-waste biogas facilities for owner-operators: “Energy-wise, we’ve been putting all of our eggs in one basket since the Industrial Revolution. Now we’re realizing the consequences of that mindset. We have to diversify our energy portfolio.”