04 21, 2023

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Earth Day, celebrated annually on April 22, has made a significant impact on the world since its inception in 1970. Earth Day was created to raise awareness about environmental protection, and over the past five decades, it has grown into a global movement that has made considerable progress in the fight against climate change. 

Today, climate change and the clean energy transition remain at the forefront of Earth Day initiatives, mobilizing millions of people, organizations, and governments around the globe. However, in addition to encouraging individuals, businesses, and governments to deploy clean energy technologies and promote sustainable practices, there is an increased focus on the urgency of such actions. This focus is reflected in Earth Day 2023’s theme, “invest in our planet,” with the need to “act (boldly), innovate (broadly), and implement (equitably).”

In this blog post, we explore Earth Day’s influence on global climate change mitigation, the dominant energy and sustainability trends today, and the type of action organizations require to accelerate their decarbonization roadmaps.

The clean energy landscape has evolved

Over the past several years, North American energy markets have shifted in response to significant global pressures. Climate change impacts, energy market volatility, and stakeholder pressure have prompted government and corporate actions – creating unique new opportunities and catalyzing clean energy growth across the region. 

These key trends are affecting the present and future of energy. They also create challenges and opportunities for action, informing how organizations address energy costs, flexibility, resilience, and sustainability in 2023 and beyond. 

Organizations are increasingly reducing carbon emissions

Earth Day has played a vital role in raising awareness about the threat of climate change. However, despite scientists’ warnings and increased public support for global mitigation efforts, they remain insufficient. The current greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) reduction levels are not enough to keep global warming below 1.5°C as pledged in the Paris Agreement. 

As a result of ongoing threats from a rapidly changing climate, there is a growing focus on the need for energy resilience and sustainability, as well as greater expectation for climate action driven by the private sector. Although international collaboration progress has been limited, the United States government introduced legislation to breathe new life into climate action. In response to stakeholder pressure to become more sustainable while taking advantage of opportunities presented by the Inflation Reduction Act, more organizations are setting decarbonization targets, investing in renewable energy, and looking for ways to make a positive impact. Procurement of clean energy is increasing rapidly, as demonstrated in the below graphic:

Corporate clean power procurement by announcement year

Graph showing corporate clean power procurement by announcement year

Graphic courtesy Clean Energy Powers American Business. According to the 2022 report, clean energy procurement by U.S. corporations has increased rapidly over the past decade. In 2022, corporate buyers announced a record 19.6 GW of clean power purchases, more than 4 GW higher than any other year.

Organizations are becoming energy prosumers

Among the latest energy trends is a clear shift toward organizations becoming prosumers (producer + consumer), educating themselves on where their energy comes from, shaping the grid, and demanding more sustainable solutions from their suppliers. They are no longer passive energy consumers, instead seeking solutions that enable them to become more flexible in acquiring and using energy, ensure the continuity of their operations, and advance their decarbonization journey. 

Prosumers are driving the transition to an electricity grid that is increasingly decentralized and multidirectional. They are generating energy to participate in multiple value streams, such as:

  1. Powering their operations with cleaner, more efficient energy
  2. Building a more secure energy supply
  3. Earning revenue by supporting the grid

In addition, prosumers are using and demanding more from innovative technologies like solar and energy storage – and increasingly customizing energy partnerships like virtual power purchase agreements.

The Inflation Reduction Act’s incentives unlock opportunities for organizations to invest in their own on-site clean energy production and storage to have more control over how and when they consume energy. Distributed energy resources like demand responsesolarbattery energy storagesolar plus storage, and microgrids can power operations with cleaner energy, reduce energy costs, secure operational resilience, and generate revenue by selling surplus electricity to the grid.

The decarbonization journey is complex

With many strong currents and moving parts, the clean energy landscape and available technologies are ever-evolving. Various technologies are available to meet organizations’ unique needs, with a range of on-site and off-site solutions, including renewable energy contracts. Most of these solutions reduce carbon emissions. Some of them reduce operational costs, and others unlock revenue opportunities. There is also a myriad of market factors to consider when deciding which solutions to pursue, from available incentives and regulatory changes to procurement and supply chain issues.

Illustration of a city showing various on-site and off-site electrification solutions from Enel

A variety of technologies are available to meet organizations’ unique needs. Enel’s integrated approach to solving energy and sustainability challenges allows us to deliver solutions across the entire energy transition roadmap.

A holistic approach to energy and sustainability is key

While a wide range of energy solutions are available, no single option addresses every need an organization may have. As a result, you need to think holistically about your organization’s sustainability and clean energy strategy, adopting complementary and integrated solutions that solve challenges and fill gaps. A portfolio of energy solutions should include energy conservation and carbon reduction solutions – but also address energy generation, energy monetization, and energy resilience. 

Addressing your energy infrastructure in this manner enables you to:

  • Accelerate your energy goals
    Addressing energy infrastructure needs comprehensively with an integrated approach makes carbon and energy cost reduction more impactful, so you can reach your energy and decarbonization goals faster. 
  • Maximize energy infrastructure 
    Taking a comprehensive view of your energy footprint enables you to maximize all available opportunities, appropriately identify and fill gaps where needed, and drive the most value from your infrastructure.  
  • Optimize energy solutions
    Integrating solutions together maximizes the benefits of the technologies, enabling them to work together to comprehensively address energy conservation, energy generation, energy monetization, and energy resilience.
  • An orchestrated, cohesive roadmap 
    A cohesive, holistic roadmap considers all appropriate energy solutions, how they interact with each other, and proper deployment order to maximize energy cost savings and carbon reduction. 

Earth day 2023 calls for “impatient optimism” – now is the time to act

Investing in our planet requires the engagement of governments, individuals, and organizations – everyone accounted for, everyone accountable. As a whole, we need to be impatiently optimistic about moving forward. For organizations, this involves remaining optimistic about the impact they can make while also being impatient in pushing for faster change. There is only one Earth, and it is facing a critical moment in history. Climate change is real – but it is not too late to take action. Through impactful progress, we can reduce the effects of climate change for generations to come.

Many impactful carbon reduction solutions already exist. Others are quickly coming online. Organizations have the tools today to solve their energy challenges, and they can no longer take indefinite time to do so. With climate change impacts worsening by the day and deadlines looming for net-zero emissions reduction targets, there is no more patience for stalling. It’s time to step on the accelerator and address your energy infrastructure holistically to make impactful, meaningful change. 

So where do you even begin?

With so many options available, knowing which energy solutions are the best match for your organization can be difficult. However, with the right energy partner, organizations of all sizes and industries can develop a balanced and diversified energy portfolio to meet their goals. The company you partner with must have strong expertise and leverage an integrated approach to best address and solve your energy and sustainability challenges. They must also have a track record of integrating sustainability into their entire value chain and making a positive environmental and social impact in the communities where they operate.

At Enel North America, we have the right sustainability track record, experience, and expertise to work across products to integrate your strategy in the simplest way possible. We can help you develop a comprehensive energy strategy and roadmap to deploy energy solutions that address sustainability, decarbonization, flexibility, resilience, electrification, and energy management. The Inflation Reduction Act has made many energy solutions more financially advantageous than ever before, and we are happy to advise you on how to take advantage of these new opportunities. 

Let us navigate through the complexity for you. We’ll customize a tailored pathway to net zero to help you actualize and accelerate your net zero goals. We’ll meet you where you are today and get you where you need to go. Contact our team today

Learn more about advancing your energy strategy by leveraging our integrated energy solutions.