List of renewable energy startups & why clean energy makes sense
Energy is both at the core of climate change and a major part of the solution. Indeed, a large proportion of the greenhouse gases that blanket the earth are generated through energy production, through the burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas to generate electricity and heat. 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 90% of all carbon dioxide emissions are attributable to the burning of fossil fuels.
Science tells us that to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, CO2 emissions need to be reduced by almost half by 2030, with net-zero by 2050.
Doing this will mean ending our reliance on fossil fuels and dramatically scaling up our use of alternative sources of energy that are clean, accessible, affordable, sustainable, and reliable.
Renewable energy sources – provided by the sun, wind, water, waste, and heat from the Earth – are replenished by nature and emit little to no greenhouse gases or pollutants into the air.
Want to explore a list of the clean energy startups working towards a cleaner future of energy? Discover the Way Beyond Work Energy List.
Why renewable energy makes sense
Renewable energy is abundant
8 in 10 people around the world live in countries that are countries that are net-importers of fossil fuels. All told, that’s 6 billion people who are dependent on fossil fuels from other countries.
However, considerable renewable energy sources are available in all countries, and their potential is yet to be fully captured. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) estimates that 90 percent of the world’s electricity can and should come from renewable energy by 2050.
Renewable energy is not only cleaner and limitless, but it offers a way out of import dependencies. This protects countries from the unpredictable price swings of fossil fuels, while driving inclusive economic growth.
Renewable energy is better for health
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that almost the entire world (an astonishing 99 percent of people) breathe air that exceeds air quality limits and threatens their health.
Particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide are some of the major causes of low air quality, originating mainly from the burning of fossil fuels. Switching to clean sources of energy help address not only climate change but also air pollution and health.
Renewable energy is cost-effective
In many parts of the world, renewable energy actually is the cheapest power option.
Thanks to improving technology and more widespread use, prices for renewable energy technologies are dropping rapidly – in fact, the cost of electricity from solar power fell by over 80% between 2010 and 2020. With falling costs, there is a real opportunity for much of the new power supply over the coming years to be provided by low-carbon sources.
Cheap electricity from renewable sources could provide well over half of the world’s total electricity supply by 2030. Moreover, it could decarbonize the majority of the power sector by 2050, massively cutting carbon emissions and helping to mitigate climate change.
More about renewable energy
Renewable energy comes from sources that are naturally replenished on a human timescale.
In the context of climate change and clean technology, renewable energy refers to forms of energy that can be generated or recovered without producing greenhouse gas emissions. This includes solar, wind, wave and geothermal power as well as biomass (i.e. wood).
A recent report by the UN Environment Programme found that global investment in renewable energy grew at a rate of 7% in 2017, driven largely by solar photovoltaics (PV). Despite this growth however there is still a long way to go before we reach our goal of 100% renewable electricity by 2050.
Nonrenewable energy sources like coal, gas, and oil come from fossil fuels that take millions of years to form and that exist in limited quantities on Earth.
Fossil fuels are nonrenewable energy sources that come from fossil fuels, which are formed when organic matter such as plants and animals is buried for millions of years. Fossil fuels include coal, natural gas, and oil. These resources take millions of years to form and exist in limited amounts on Earth.
In addition to being finite resources, fossil fuels have another major drawback: they produce greenhouse gases when burned for energy production or transportation. GHGs cause global warming when they enter the atmosphere; this has led many countries around the world including China and India to invest heavily in renewable energy projects like wind farms or solar panels so that they can reduce their carbon footprint while also reducing their dependence on foreign fuel imports by using more domestically produced power instead of relying solely on imported petroleum products like gasoline or diesel fuel
Fossil fuels are responsible for more than 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which are widely recognized as the primary driver of climate change.
In addition to burning fossil fuels, humans also create carbon dioxide emissions from deforestation and animal agriculture (the production of meat).
Emerging clean tech companies use their engineering know-how to create technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or help address other impacts of climate change.
Many emerging clean energy and climate tech companies use their engineering know-how to create technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or help address other impacts of climate change.
Solar energy, wind power, wave power, geothermal energy and more are being developed to accelerate the shift away from fossil fuels.
Clean tech companies are working to accelerate the shift away from fossil fuels by developing cleaner alternatives and investments in clean tech have grown rapidly over the past decade.
Clean technology also includes green buildings (designed with passive design principles), smart grid technologies that enable better management of electricity supply-and-demand on an integrated basis (for example, through real-time pricing signals), electric vehicles and other transport solutions which are powered by renewable energy sources while reducing greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional vehicles powered by gasoline or diesel fuel.
Solar energy comes directly from the sun, while wind power and wave power come from moving air and water. Geothermal energy comes from heat generated within the Earth's crust.
All three can be used to generate electricity without releasing any further greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
A promising area for new innovation is clean hydrogen, which is a relatively cheap way of storing renewable energy and powering everything from cars to homes and factories with zero emissions.
Hydrogen has several advantages over batteries: it's much more energy dense (meaning you can store more power in less space), it's more efficient when used, there are no harmful pollutants released during production or use, and it can be produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using an electrochemical process called electrolysis.
Want to learn more about the clean energy companies working towards a better future? Discover a list of forward thinking climate tech companies working in clean energy with the Way Beyond Work Energy List.