Fossil fuels, coal and natural gases have been a staple of the world’s energy diet for the last two centuries. But the worsening state of the environment has forced a change in the status quo. Problems such as rising global temperatures, climate change and accelerated CO2 levels have made it clear that a major shift in energy production is sorely needed.
Thus, efforts into renewable energy have emerged from the urgency of the circumstances we face today. With world leaders committing to lowering their carbon output and private companies making innovations in sustainable energy, there is a growing movement to slow down (and hopefully, reverse) the damage being dealt to the ecosphere.
One such company is Tesla. Named after the famed scientist with his own innovations, Tesla was co-founded by visionary Elon Musk in 2003. Born in South Africa, he moved to the United States where he laid the foundations of the renewable energy empire that he oversees today.
Tesla is widely known for making vast improvements on electric car technology and released their first model, the Roadster sports car, in 2008. Since then, they’ve continuously refined their products in the form of subsequent releases like the self-driving Model S, SUV variant Model X and the upcoming Model 3. Using lithium-ion batteries, these combustion-free vehicles don’t consume fossil fuels that cause carbon emissions or generate greenhouse gases.
On top of that, Tesla also produces energy storage units called the Powerwall which works in junction with solar panels. Storing energy from PV panels, the Powerwall acts as a battery to provide homeowners with energy and lessen their use of grid-based power. Tesla’s endeavours have put it on the path to a sustainable approach to generating energy as well its applications in other fields such as transportation.
The good news is that other companies are following suit and doing their own part in changing the way the world consumes energy. Like Tesla, they are blazing a trail for new technology and disrupting the status quo.
According to Oliver Smith from Solar Expert, “2017 has been a positive year for innovation. After pretty a pretty harsh reduction in the feed-in tariff we are still seeing companies in the UK innovate, with battery storage making good inroads. Plus, the possibility of de-regulation post Brexit of cheaper Chinese panels paint a road to possible industry growth in the next 2-3 years.”
Get to know the other players in the industry – keep reading below:
#1: Carbon Lighthouse Inc.
Created in San Francisco in 2010 with a staff of only a few dozen people, this company seeks to reduce emissions from commercial buildings on a global scale.
Although they’re not producing energy efficient products themselves, Caron Lighthouse helps other businesses achieve the perfect balance between environmental responsibility and profitability. It’s their mission to prove that convenience and bottom line revenue don’t have to be at odds with fighting climate change.
Specifically, they make use of unique data collection technology via sensors that assess the energy efficiency index of buildings. This allows them to implement measures and modifications to a building’s existing infrastructure to help save energy by up to 30%.
As such, their clientele consists of other companies that want to eliminate their carbon footprint and make their operations more sustainable. With close to 500 buildings already optimised for energy efficiency, they’re not slowing down in their quest to help businesses save on energy costs - and ultimately, reduce CO2 emissions.
#2: Current, Powered by GE
Just two years in existence, Current was hatched as part of General Electric’s effort to provide other companies with a structured approach to maximise their energy consumption and keep costs down. They specialise in “Intelligent Energy Management” and cater to offices, the industrial sector, stores and even cities. By combining their existing technology such as LED lighting, solar power, specialised software and IT applications, Current has empowered a variety of organizations to optimise their operations on a holistic level. As of today, they’ve raked in billions in profits from helping major corporate entities and local governments.
#3: Philips Electronics
Over the years, Philips has repeatedly been featured in the Top 50 Socially Responsible Companies list by Macleans and Sustainalytics for integrating sustainability and environmental awareness in many aspects of their operations. For instance, they’ve created an efficient LED lamp that consumes significantly less power than regular models. This is part of their intended shift from conventional to LED based lighting in order to reduce global CO2 emissions.
Philips’ green efforts also extend into production itself, using a system called the EcoDesign process which ensures materials used are environmentally friendly and recyclable. Speaking of materials, Macleans has also praised the company for putting measures in place to avoid sourcing their needed raw materials from conflict regions. This includes organizations within the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) who are responsible for war-related crimes that supply these materials.
#4: Cisco Systems
This electronics giant is also getting on the sustainability train by making energy efficiency a core part of its business practices. For instance, they’re part of the Carbon Disclosure Project, a UK-based group that measures and CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions around the world. Through emission transparency and proactive self-monitoring, Cisco is setting an example of what corporate social responsibility can be.
Not only that, Cisco is constantly finding ways to cut down their energy use in their supply chains wherever possible. Their production process also goes through stringent and environmentally-conscious standards that ensure reduced waste. Their actual products are designed for optimum energy efficiency, like in their power supplies and integrated circuits.
The seeds of this solar power startup took root in 2004 when Sam Goldman made it his mission to provide clean energy to developing countries. Coming back to the U.S. from a Peace Corps mission, he and Ned Tozun founded d.light which gave birth to the initial prototype solar lantern. They quickly started selling cloud-based solar power products in 2008 and has been on a quest since then to provide both residential and commercial users with safe, renewable energy.
In 2016, d.light raised $15 million as part of implementing an off-grid, pay-as-you-go (PAYG) solar power solution to various regions across Africa to make sustainable energy more accessible to communities, homes and educational institutions. The result is cost-effective PV-based energy on a mobile payment platform, making it affordable to those who need it the most.
#6: Siemens AG
With a wide range of industrial services and solutions, this Germany-based powerhouse has made leaps and bounds in the application of technology revolving around sustainable energy. Its collective efforts has put Siemens in the global spotlight, squeezing maximum profit for every kilowatt they’ve produced.
The company has also sought to lower its carbon footprint to impressive levels and developed green products in multiple fields. This includes supplying key components for solar energy facilities, selling wind turbines (for onshore and offshore sites, both geared and direct drive) and providing steam turbines to biomass plants that produce harmless emissions.
More than that, the Siemens Energy Services division works with customers who want to streamline their operations in an environmentally responsible manner. As such, Siemens helps its clients make their gas turbines, steam turbines and other equipment as energy efficient as possible. Using sophisticated diagnostic methods that set benchmark for the industry, they are able to identify opportunities and key areas for optimisation.