Innovating Technology Net Zero Emissions | Gunung Capital

Innovating Technologies for Net Zero Emissions

Climate change is a global threat, and its root cause – global warming – needs to be resolved urgently. This requires reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs) by adopting technologies that are fossil fuel-free and emission-free. Improving the efficiency of existing technologies could reduce emissions by 60-65%, while the innovation of and implementation of cleaner technologies could reduce emissions by 35-40%. However, as cleaner technologies have yet to mature and entail significant investment, the process of decarbonization is delayed.

 

Net zero emissions could be achieved only when there is a sustainable approach to technological innovation to make it digital and consumer friendly. Integrating business strategies with climate science could accelerate the energy transition and pave the way to net zero energy. This requires substantial investment in implementing sustainability through ESG initiatives and amending government regulations and policies to make them favorable for adopting newer and cleaner technologies.

 

The requirements of next-generation technology can be met only through large capital investment. The five areas of technological innovation required are as follows:

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1. Electrification of Transport, Buildings, and Industry

Most of the equipment used in transport, buildings and industry runs on hydrocarbon fuels or coal, oil, and natural gas. The processes need to be electrified so carbon emissions are reduced. A cost analysis would also need to be conducted to ensure investment is reasonable.

Key Steps for electrification:

  • Invest in economical batteries for electric vehicles
  • Reduce the charging time of batteries to make their use more feasible
  • Reduce emissions from buildings by using LED lights; more efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems; and energy monitoring and control systems
  • Ensure industrial equipment is electrified; however, this requires bridging the cost and efficiency gaps between fuel-powered and electricity-powered equipment

 

2. Implementing a Green Revolution in Agriculture 

The agriculture sector emits methane, which is also classified as a Greenhouse gas. To mitigate global warming, therefore, it is necessary to remove methane emissions using advanced technology. Using emission-free electrical machinery could transform the sector. Reducing costs, and governments providing support through financial schemes could accelerate this adoption. The digestive processes of cattle, sheep and other animals also emit methane, so plant-based meat substitutes need to be sourced to reduce emissions. Cattle and hog manure could be used in anaerobic digesters to produce biogas, which could be compressed for use as fuel for vehicles.


3. Power Grid Modernization

Most countries have old grid systems that are carbon-intensive and unable to bear the load of electrification expected in the future. They need to move to smart grids if the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity are to be transformed completely. Grids can be modernized in three ways:

  • Install decentralized renewable energy generation
  • Increase energy storage capacity to compensate for the intermittency of solar and wind energy
  • Upgrade infrastructure for the generation and distribution of electricity

 

4. Use of Hydrogen Fuel

Hydrogen fuel can accelerate the decarbonization process because of its high energy density and zero carbon emissions. It can address the GHG emissions of sectors such as shipping, industry, buildings, and transport. Hydrogen is produced through the electrolysis of water; if the electrolyser uses renewable energy, it will produce green hydrogen, whereas if natural gas is used for electrolysis, the hydrogen produced would be blue. Along with their high density, hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles can be used for heavy transport. However, for complete adoption, fuel stations need to be built. Hydrogen can also be used in the direct reduction process in the steel sector, leading to zero emissions. It also finds application in the aviation sector, as fuel for smaller aircraft.


5. Carbon Capture, Storage, and Utilization

The equipment cost of carbon sequestration is high; this process is used in areas where it is difficult to reduce CO2 emissions. Innovation in this technology is slow, and the technology is very rarely used. It finds application in areas such as coal or gas power plants, steel plants and refineries. Innovative technologies are emerging, but their cost needs to be reduced to make them feasible at the commercial level. Emerging technologies are as follows:

  • Pre- and post-combustion technologies – these reduce the cost of carbon sequestration significantly
  • Carbon capture and storage plants with bioenergy – these capture carbon emissions when biomass is burned and do not allow the emissions to enter the atmosphere
  • Waste biomass such as crop residue is processed through pyrolysis and gasification to produce biochar, which can be used to improve soil health and agricultural productivity, promoting large-scale farming
 
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Conclusion

Implementing clean technologies at the commercial level would accelerate the move to net zero emissions. This could be done by enhancing their level of maturity through support from companies, financial institutions, and governments in terms of increasing investment in research. Innovation and the integration of next-generation technologies into clean energy could transform the sector to achieve net zero emissions. 

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