Are We Pivoting From Net Zero To True Zero?

(Credit: PV Magazine)

by | Jun 2, 2021

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(Credit: PV Magazine USA)

True Zero,’ as Steve Hoy, former IBMer and CEO of Enosi, calls it, may be the new term used to talk about achieving carbon emissions reductions goals. 

While net zero refers to an overall balance between emissions produced and emissions removed from the atmosphere, true zero, or 24/7 carbon-free energy, focuses on purchasing round-the-clock clean energy each hour and on each regional grid where electricity consumption occurs. 

Companies pursuing 100% renewable energy goals typically enter into 100% clean energy power purchase agreements (PPAs) or purchase renewable energy credits. However, even if a company buys enough energy to match 100% of their annual consumption, they are still relying on carbon-based power when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing. 

Google recently acknowledged its use of carbon offsets, while offsets have their place, falls short of what is necessary, and signed a 10-year contract with AES for 24-7 carbon-free energy. As of 2017, Google matched 100% of its global electricity consumption with renewables but the company was directly using locally-sourced carbon-free energy about 61% of the time. At its data centers around the world, energy use was being matched to carbon-free sources anywhere between 3% and 96% of the time. 

Green energy certificates will soon be superseded by traceability technology, which allows us to see the source, the time and the price of the energy purchased. With 24/7 traceability, customers can see and choose where they want to buy their power from and can be assured that clean power is delivered, or have accurate reporting when it is not available.

Microsoft, IBM, and other firms have also made traceability commitments for clean energy purchasing to meet their carbon reduction goals. 

As renewable energy continues to be cheaper than fossil fuels, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency, there will be savings for customers making clean energy choices.

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