what is carbon free energy

24/7 Carbon-free Energy Explained

The energy industry is in the midst of a transformation.

The old adage of the energy transition is seeing a wash of terms associated with clean energy production parallel to public disclosures of new climate goals.

While a small number of new energy technologies are being developed around the world, the goal is the total decarbonization of the electricity sector. To accomplish this, there is an outlying requirement that is in favour of a very select few technologies, with advanced geothermal technology being a primary candidate.

What is 24/7 carbon-free energy?

24/7 carbon-free energy means every kilowatt-hour of energy consumed is met with a zero-carbon emitting energy source 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In other words, the energy produced to meet demand does not emit CO2 or other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Noted by clean energy advocate Peter Tait in Baseload Capital, “There is no doubt that 100% renewables matching drove investment in clean energy around the world. It was a good thing, but now we need to go further. The next step creates the perfect place to talk about geothermal.”

Why is carbon-free energy important?

Renewable energy efforts strive to solve the problem of reliance on fossil fuels.

24/7 carbon-free energy is a topic that identifies issues with renewable energy.

Transforming the electricity sector is not a political race, an opportunity for idealistic public perception, or to monetize innovation.

Carbon-free energy is important to the survival of the planet, reducing the risk of climate catastrophes, sustainability of commercial sectors, and to the betterment of each and every person on Earth.

This is a global initiative spearheaded by public and private companies through several technologies. The carbon-free objective is the key driver behind many politically supported initiatives, which in turn improves the environmental-friendly practices of commercial sectors, and ultimately the health of each and every person.

While the topic is nuanced, the objective is simple – to eliminate the reliance and use of carbon-emitting fossil fuels.

This sentiment is shared by François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry of Canada, “When you have a healthy environment, you have a healthy economy. That’s what the world is starting to understand”.

Is renewable energy the same as 24/7 carbon-free energy?

The answer is yes, but only with a few solutions.

While most renewable energy solutions do not emit carbon into the atmosphere, not all carbon-free energy solutions are renewable.

One example is the materials required for nuclear energy. While no carbon is released into the atmosphere from nuclear energy, it relies on uranium, which is a finite resource. Thus it is a carbon-free energy solution, but non-renewable.

While there is ongoing research and a long history of recycling spent uranium for fuel, these efforts have yet to yield a fully renewable process.

The question focuses specifically on the capability of 24/7 renewable energy production, meaning energy solutions that can meet demand 24 hours a day, and do not require additional technology to provide backup energy during periods of intermittency, ie. ‘the energy is always on’.

The problematic issue of the intermittency of certain technologies is being addressed through innovation of battery storage technology, such as the recent news from Canadian Solar expecting to double its storage capacity solution in 2022.

Whereas advanced geothermal technology (AGS) can produce energy that is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Geothermal utilizes heat generated by the Earth’s core, and with advanced techniques, there is no requirement for hot water reservoirs to be pumped out and reinjected, thus removing many of the risks associated with traditional geothermal.

Closed-loop geothermal technology, such as the Eavor-Loop™, is not limited by intermittency, has a minimal land footprint, provides sustainable jobs, and can produce carbon-free energy 24 hours a day.

Cited from Michael Reed, the Director of the Technical and Project Management Division and Chief Engineer for the Department of Energy’s Loam Program Office, “Several technical advancements have entered the field with the potential to help geothermal play a significant role in achieving U.S. decarbonization goals: enhanced geothermal systems; closed-loop systems; mineral extraction; and load following.”

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in their research of Geothermal Anywhere, reiterates the importance of this leap in geothermal technology, stating that AGS is attractive because:

Heat production can be estimated with relatively high confidence
Reservoir stimulation is not required, which limits the risk of induced seismicity and lowers water consumption

It can theoretically be applied anywhere.

Is Net-Zero the same as 24/7 carbon-free energy?

Net-zero refers to the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere is equivalent to the amount of greenhouse gases removed. This is an objective or ‘target’ set by many nations around the world that understand the importance of traditional energy sources such as oil and gas.

As most energy advocates understand, traditional energy sources are critical now and will continue to be a major part of the energy transition. While there are many, one example being BP and Chevron’s commitment to supporting the development of closed-loop geothermal.

The 24/7 Carbon-Free Energy Compact

The 24/7 carbon-free energy compact is a global initiative in support of the total decarbonization of the electricity sector. It consists of a large group of energy buyers, energy suppliers, governments, system operators, solutions providers, investors, and other organizations has joined together to accelerate the decarbonization of electricity grids by adopting, enabling, and advancing 24/7 Carbon-free Energy (CFE).

“The 24/7 Carbon-free Energy Compact is a set of principles and actions that stakeholders across the energy ecosystem can commit to in order to drive systemic change. Due to the remarkable ongoing progress in clean energy and enabling technologies, the transition to a fully decarbonized electricity sector is possible. Achieving it will require a concerted and targeted effort by all stakeholders to develop and scale the energy policies, technologies, procurement practices, and solutions to transform the broader energy ecosystem to enable rapid and cost-effective achievement of 24/7 CFE for all.”

To learn more, visit Gocarbonfree247.

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