Our Carbon-Neutral Future Demands Disparate Renewable Energy Technologies

Our global marketplace is certainly a competitive one but there is no reason why renewable energy technologies, whether they emanate from energy metals including lithium, uranium, zinc, cobalt, etc., or from the sun and wind or hydropower, should be competing for market dominance. Why shouldn’t renewable energy technologies compete for market dominance in the manner of Coke vs. Pepsi? It’s quite simple. Our global population can maintain a fruitful existence whether they opt for one beverage brand over another; a decayed environment, however, directly impacts our health, safety, and quality of life. Environmental degradation results in air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity losses, and more. So, taking care of our environment by investing in all viable environmental tools and technologies is a global responsibility, and a necessity for ensuring a sustainable future.

Around the world, divergent regions are committing to ambitious climate policies to remove as many CO2 emissions as possible. For example, the European Union’s (EU’s) “Green Deal,” seeks to make Europe the first continent to remove as many CO2 emissions as it produces by 2050. As part of the EU’s target to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by mid-century, Germany’s goal is to become carbon-neutral by 2050. Germany’s targets include reducing its GHG emissions by 55% or more by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. Germany has also pledged to phase out coal by 2038.

On Dec. 13, 2021, President Joe Biden signed an executive order and launched the Federal Sustainability Plan to make the federal government carbon-neutral by 2050, aiming for a 65% reduction in planet-warming GHG emissions by 2030 and an all-electric fleet of cars and trucks by 2035. The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act in August 2022 further solidified the role of the U.S. as a leader in the quest for clean energy, with the largest climate package ever at $369 billion.

My native Canada has set a goal to become carbon-neutral by 2050 with stringent measures including a carbon pricing system where heavy carbon emitters are required to pay a fee, which is then used to support the transition to a cleaner economy. Canada is targeting 90% of the country’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030.

Australia set a target of generating 50% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030, and Japan dramatically expanded its use of renewable energy sources with a target of generating 22%–24% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. International collaboration is key as many countries are working together to address climate change by participating in the Paris Agreement. Its environmental goal is to limit the rise in our global average temperature and eliminate human-caused GHG emissions in the coming years.

To address our global environmental crisis, our interdependent countries are best served to combine their efforts to achieve what we all require—clean air and water, and a healthy quality of life. Zinc8’s technology will not replace other major batteries—all have their place in helping to solve the intermittency gap from renewable sources. Our focus (and for the world) is ensuring that people have access to safe, reliable, and low-cost clean energy for eight hours to 100 hours. While I’m immensely proud of what we are accomplishing at Zinc8 Energy Solutions; we are just one piece of the global carbon neutrality puzzle.

The historic measures taken around the world to reach ambitious goals of carbon neutrality are driving clean energy innovation. No single type of renewable energy technology can meet all of the world’s energy needs. A combination of various renewable energy technologies is required. As well, each of these technologies has their own advantages and disadvantages, and many of these modalities can work synergistically together.

The availability of natural resources, location, and climate are just some of the factors that determine which renewable energy technology is most suited to a specific function or region. Although this is a corporately competitive landscape, it’s important to realize that a mix of renewable energy technologies is necessary to provide sustainable and reliable energy for all sectors of the economy.

Ron MacDonald ([email protected]) is president and CEO of Zinc8 Energy Solutions, a leader in zinc-air battery technology. The Zinc-Air Flow Battery from Zinc8 Energy Solutions is an energy storage solution designed to serve a wide range of long-duration applications for microgrids and utilities.