The future of energy use after lockdown: 4 key questions
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on every aspect of life, and the environment is no exception.
Reports have shown that emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) –主要温室气体, accounting for 81% of total UK greenhouse gas emissions – have fallen as lockdown brought with it huge changes to the way we create and consume energy.
In the UK, 58% of people believe the government should prioritise the environment as part of the economic recovery from Covid-19. But, with restrictions easing around the world and energy demands creeping higher again, just how possible is it to keep emissions low and what does the future look like?
Here are four key questions to consider:
1. Can we keep on working from home?
It is widely thought that by maintaining these remote working habits – or at least some of them – there will be a more sustainable drop in emissions.
In the summer, working from home saves around 400kg of carbon emissions, the equivalent of 5% of a typical British commuter’s annual carbon footprint, because homeworking staff cut out their carbon emissions from their commute.
However, the firm found that if an average employee worked at home all year round, they would produce actually 2.5 tonnes of carbon per year – around 80% more than an office worker. That’s because most heating systems in the UK heat the whole house, producing far more carbon emissions than what would be produced from the commute.
2. What will the travel industry look like?
In order to reduce emissions in the longer-term and help the UK meet its target for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, more needs to be done to when it comes to travel.
If you do need to fly, you can at least offset emissions; there’s plenty ofinformation online on how best to do this.
3. Will the pandemic supercharge the electric vehicle market?
But as the government strives to hit tough zero-carbon emissions targets, will the pandemic supercharge the electric vehicle (EV) market?
There has certainly been a big rise in sales of greener vehicles. According to data from industry analysts Jato Dynamics, battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and other hybrid cars accounted for 17% of car sales across all European markets, including the UK in April. The data also found buyers were more likely to opt for electric and hybrid cars, even as overall sales of cars fell.
As restrictions continue to ease and more people get back on the roads, interest in electric vehicles will need to remain high in order to keep emissions down.
Thereis already financial support in place to encourage people to go electric, as the government continues to push the future of travel towards EVs.
It might sound counterintuitive, but during the pandemic there have been instances of consumers being paid to use energy.
Paying customers to use power is often a much simpler solution for grid operators than having to shut down generating facilities when there is too much power in the system.
During the lockdown, reports showed that electricity consumption was down by 15% across Europe, yet a very sunny and windy spring season meant that supplies of renewable energy were up.
Consumers who are signed up to flexible,敏捷关税could find themselves encouraged to use electricity when the price goes below negative. This happened to customers of energy supplier Octopus during lockdown. Perfect for those customers with an EV or home battery to charge, or with electric water heating or indeed for those able to shift their load to periods of negative pricing.
As the UK moves towards a greener future, with more renewable energy sources in use and advances in energy storage capabilities, more and more people could get paid to use energy.
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