The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is the largest clean energy investment by the federal government in U.S. history. The passing of this $430 billion bill shows that the American government recognizes it is time for businesses to make crucial, sustainable changes in order to combat global warming. This historic bill further demonstrates that industries are ripe for more sustainable innovation, especially within the power generation industry.
Investing in green practices and technologies has proven to drive a higher return on investment (ROI) and will only become more profitable as time goes on. The 2022 IPCC report warned that the world is set to reach the 1.5ºC level within the next two decades, which could lead to desertification and land degradation, and is detrimental to sustainable land management and food security. Business leaders must make the most drastic cuts in carbon emissions to help prevent an environmental disaster.
The first step is examining internal operational processes to determine where energy is being wasted, then begin researching and investing in sustainable practices like green hydrogen and innovative green tech, to generate clean energy, save money, reduce carbon footprint and increase ROI.
How to Turn Wasted Energy into Clean Energy
In 2022, domestic energy production from all fossil fuel sources combined (i.e. oil and natural gas as well as coal) increased, which contributed to a 2.57% increase in carbon dioxide (C02) emissions attributable to U.S. fossil energy consumption. This increased use of fossil fuels also means an increase in wasted energy in the pressure reduction process. However, there are solutions to take that wasted energy and convert it into clean electricity.
Something important to note is the concern around energy supply security as it relates to the availability of energy at an affordable price. Although the U.S. produces enough oil to meet its own needs, it still imports fossil fuels from other countries, which hinders U.S. energy supply security. For example, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine negatively impacted the global oil and gas industry, because Russia cut off a key gas pipeline that supplied gas to multiple countries, impacting prices and production rates of oil and gas across the world. This vulnerability and reliance on fossil fuels demonstrates why now is the right time to prioritize sustainable clean technologies.
Some personal favorite sustainable practices and innovative green tech to conserve wasted energy are:
- Producing power with hydrogen
- Incorporating solar, wind-powered efforts into operational processes
- Clean self-generation technologies, such as waste heat or pressure energy recovery
- Reducing power consumption via efficiency improvements
But what is the most profitable sustainable change to make?
The Green Hydrogen Market is the Future
In the wake of the Inflation Reduction Act passing, the green hydrogen boom is particularly profitable because the law will purposefully keep funds going for green hydrogen. Hydrogen is the most abundant element on Earth, and our ability to economically utilize it for power generation and energy storage is of paramount importance.
When working with renewables, green hydrogen powers electrolyzers that take water (H2O) and split the “H’s” from the “O.” It essentially emits zero greenhouse gases, and the hydrogen generated creates clean energy that can power anything that currently uses hydrocarbons, including power plants and all forms of transportation.
At this year’s Climate Week event in New York, and again at POWER’s recent HydrogeNext event in Colorado, green hydrogen was a popular topic, which highlights its rising popularity and expected growth in the coming years. It is also expected that the hydrogen market will drive decarbonization in mobility markets.
Extensive development is underway in rail, trucking, ships and aviation for hydrogen-powered vehicles. As the hydrogen infrastructure matures, it could replicate the current natural gas pipeline model and be used across the globe for power generation and heating applications.
There are many benefits to shifting toward sustainable practices, including driving a higher ROI and reducing impacts on climate change. Sustainable efforts also help reduce overall business costs because fees that relate to wasteful emissions, toxic byproducts and safe disposal and containment may be reduced or eliminated. If business leaders don’t make the necessary changes now, organizations not prioritizing sustainable practices will be left behind.
This is only the beginning of the green investment trend. Sustainability is here to stay, and if used correctly, these practices could benefit your company’s revenue, carbon footprint, and overall brand perception.
—Freddie Sarhan is CEO of Sapphire Technologies, a company that develops and manufactures energy recovery systems that harness the power of gas expansion to produce reliable and clean electricity, helping reduce the global carbon footprint.