Energy self-sustainability helps combat climate change
To combat global warming, Europe aims to be climate neutral by 2050. Meanwhile, by 2030 it will have to reduce carbon emissions further. The goal is to reduce these emissions by 55% compared to 1990. However, mitigating the greenhouse effect is not the only reason. Is a sustainable energy model guaranteeing the provision of energy for all possible? Some examples indicate that energy self-sustainability is the way.
What is energy self-sustainability?
Energy self-sustainability is a strategy focused on two axes. On the one hand, it seeks to reduce energy consumption. On the other hand, it aims at increasing the generation of local renewable energy. Solar and wind energy fit in this category.
Thus, it fulfills two objectives at the same time:
- To reduce the emission of greenhouse gases thanks to clean energy.
- To reduce dependence on energy resources from other countries. It is precisely this objective that gives the strategy its name.
Benefits of energy self-sustainability
We have just mentioned two objectives of energy self-sustainability, but in reality, they are not the only ones. Developing this strategy is a stimulus for local economies since it promotes the creation of companies and new jobs in the energy sector.
For example, regions with large areas can develop wind power installations. In addition, the marine coasts allow the use of the tides or the force of the waves to generate energy.
The benefits are both economic and social. Among these, we can mention:
- Pollution reduction. According to the United Nations, cities are responsible for 70% of greenhouse gas emissions. Added to this, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities. Energy self-sustainability is a fundamental ally of decarbonization.
- Decrease in energy dependence on fossil fuels.
- Promotion among citizens. One of the fastest-growing technologies is the installation of photovoltaic solar panels. They are used for individual and collective self-consumption, and thus, consumers create a sustainable lifestyle and reduce their carbon footprint.
Four success stories of energy self-sustainability
Energy dependence on fossil fuels is very significant, so much so that it seems complicated to achieve a sustainable and safe model that guarantees the supply of energy for all.
However, companies, communities, and countries are trying a different model. We invite you to analyze these four success stories of energy self-sustainability.
Iceland, 100% clean energy
Iceland is close to having 100% clean energy. Almost all the electricity consumed by its 330,000 inhabitants comes from renewable sources. However, it was not always like that. Until the 1970s, it used fossil fuels and had to import them.
Its primary current sources are hydraulic and geothermal energy. 90% of homes are heated directly with this type of energy. The only exception is transportation, which uses fossil fuels.
EspaiZero: self-sustainability and zero consumption balance
The EspaiZero building, located in Catalonia, is a high-rise office building built in 2013. There are 200 square meters of usable area, and the company Wattia Innova has its headquarters here. It is the first self-sufficient building in Catalonia with 100% renewable energy.
It uses photovoltaic solar energy. In addition, it takes advantage of its location and orientation to obtain light and regulate the temperature. One of its keys is storing solar energy in accumulators and batteries.
Another example of a self-sufficient building is the Iberdrola Tower. It is located in Bilbao and is an icon of the city. Designed by the Argentine architect César Pelli, it is the first Spanish skyscraper with LEED Platinum CS 2.0 certification. Iberdrola, which was already a pioneer in the commitment to renewables, has proposed to triple renewable capacity and double regulated assets by the end of the decade. It also invests in the electrification of transport by installing 50,000 charging points in the coming years.
To live in a self-sufficient house
Self-sufficient single-family homes are no longer a utopia. In Zaragoza, a group of houses is built in compliance with the Passivhaus certification.
The world’s first “passive house” was built 30 years ago in Germany. Since then, more than 1,000 Passivhaus certificates have been delivered.
Zaragoza’s homes do not have gas or electricity costs. In addition, they are comfortable and healthy.
Copernico and solar farms
Copernico is a Portuguese renewable energy cooperative. It was founded in 2013. It started with 16 people and currently has more than 1,800 members who have invested more than 1.7 million euros in 21 solar farms.
The cooperative generates solar energy and markets it at a fair price. It currently focuses on the production and marketing of energy for its members and on energy efficiency.
Test your energy self-sufficiency
Four inspiring cases, right? You, too, can start to walk on the path to energy self-sustainability. Take these tips into account:
- Reduce your energy consumption. Avoid wasting both electricity and water. Technology can help. For example, motion sensors to turn off the light in unoccupied rooms, and also, appliances with energy efficiency certification.
- Create healthy consumption habits. Apply the “3R” strategy: reduce, recycle, reuse.
- Calculate your carbon footprint. Most of the CO2 emissions are related to the energy consumption that we do on a daily basis. The average footprint per person in the world is five tons per year, and the objective to combat climate change is to reduce it to two tons per year per person. The planet needs us!
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European Council (2022). Climate change: what the EU is doing.
Garcia, A. (2021). Un pueblo de Soria, primera comunidad energética autosuficiente de toda España. PR1ME energy.
Sala, I. (2014). Visita guiada al edificio autosuficiente de consumo 0, ESPAIZERO. Construction 21 España.
SmarBuilding, Revista oficial. (2018), Un vasco a la vanguardia de la sostenibilidad.
SmartFridsInfo (n.d). Autosuficiencia energética.
UN News (2019). Cities: ‘a cause of and solution to’ climate change.