Energy is what keeps us moving. From the petrol in our cars to the electricity running through our tech — energy is everywhere. So much so, that it can be all too easy to take for granted.
And, it can be easy to forget the damage that it causes to our planet.
That’s why, as a business, you have the responsibility to choose your energy sources wisely and to make use of alternative and renewable energy.
Not only will it look great on your sustainability agenda but it will contribute to a healthier and happier environment, which, in turn, will lead to a greener future.
What is Renewable Energy?
Renewable energy is a source of power that comes from clean and natural resources. This means that it does not harm the environment around it, nor will it ever run dry. It contains no nasty chemicals or toxic ingredients — it simply generates power. In other words, it does all the hard work for us.
Why is Renewable Energy Important?
When you think of energy, some not-so-green resources may come to mind, fossil fuels such as oil, coal, gas and also nuclear power. Not only are these destructive to the earth, but they have a huge political history behind them. Fossil fuels are backed by governments and powerful businesses because they generate a lot of money. We’re talking about billions. Furthermore, a recent report suggests that governments are on track to producing 50% more fossil fuels by 2030.
We just cannot let that happen. For a long time, people have known about the devastating impact that dirty energy from fossil fuels has on the environment. Offshore drilling affects sea life and risks oil spillage into our oceans; coal mining, although on the decline, still provides terrible conditions for workers and poisons the atmosphere and gas extraction can cause irreversible deforestation.
But thankfully there is a solution - a viable alternative to these environment-damaging fossil fuels. Renewable energy. With so many different renewable energy types to choose from, it seems ludicrous that businesses, as well as our wider society, use these dangerous resources to fuel our day-to-day lives. Why is renewable energy important? These traditional resources are finite, and will run out one day - so as well as being a greener alternative, renewable energy sources are essential for a sustainable energy future and greater energy security.
What Are the Different Types of Renewable Energy?
Here is the lowdown on some of the best renewable energy resources that can help us to reduce carbon dioxide output and air pollution. What’s more, there are lots of fantastic green energy providers in the UK that will not only help reduce your carbon footprint but will save you a few pennies too.
Hydropower is the energy created by river currents. It’s a method that has been used for centuries and is a great alternative to traditional energy sources for electricity generation - around 75% of Iceland’s energy is produced by hydropower. It works through the use of controllable dams, turbines and powerplants. The dam creates falling water, which pushes against the turbines. The kinetic energy of these moving parts then creates mechanical energy, which is then turned into electricity.
Solar power is one of the best ways to directly generate your own electricity. Many homeowners are now switching to traditional solar panels and solar thermal power and it's how businesses can help fuel their own energy supplies.
By placing solar panels on the roof of your building, you’ll be able to capture the power of the sun. Solar panels are made up of materials that contain electrons which, when exposed to sunlight, will come loose and create electricity. The stronger the light, the more electricity can be produced. However, modern solar panels mean you can still create power on a cloudy day! What’s not to love?
Have you ever been caught in a windstorm? One so strong that you feel like you might be whisked away at any moment? The wind is so powerful that it can destroy whole cities and rip buildings apart. That’s why the energy generated by wind and wind turbines is one of the easiest and most harnessed sources.
Wind turbines are often — but not exclusively — erected out at sea. Their large, heavy blades are turned by the wind and the air. This creates kinetic energy which is then internally converted into mechanical energy. This turns a gearbox which spins a generator and once this meets a certain speed, it generates electricity. Ping!
Perhaps one of the more gruesome forms of renewable energy — but still perfectly natural — is anaerobic digesters. This is the breakdown of food and bacteria without oxygen which is then turned into biogas. This gas is mostly methane and, as it burns, it generates power that can be used for electricity, heat and fuel.
In case you’re wondering, this is the same gas that is often considered to be bad for the environment. It’s true — when methane leaks out into the atmosphere before it’s burned, it becomes intertwined with the wider greenhouse gas pollution. However, anaerobic digestion does try to prevent this and many providers do this safely and responsibly. And let’s not forget, with over 10 million tonnes of food going to waste each year in the UK, it’s great that we can put it to good use rather than it ending up in landfill (where it would vastly contribute to greenhouse gases).
Energy from Waste
At First Mile, we know that waste is wrong. That’s why we offer a zero to landfill policy and make sure that none of our customer’s rubbish ends up in the ground.
Wherever possible, we encourage businesses to recycle and reuse. Nevertheless, there are still lots of non-recyclable items out there and we know that sometimes you don’t have much choice but to throw it in the bin.
But don’t worry — we can turn that waste into energy.
We do this by sending waste to a special energy from waste facility which will burn any non-recyclables down to ash. Heat and electricity are harnessed during the incineration process and fed into the national grid. As for the ash, this is compacted into aggregate and building materials.
Renewable Energy Sources & Business
As you’ve seen, renewable energy production is possible via a number of different ways in which energy can be harnessed through natural means. We don’t need to drill into our oceans or contribute to deforestation to create power.
This is why First Mile have partnered with Octopus Energy, a leading green energy company, to provide First Mile Energy to businesses. Find out more here.
Additionally we already our fleet of electric vehicles and our sorting facility, affectionately known as The Sacktory, also run off 100% green energy. If we want businesses to go green — we need to lead by example. You can read more about this here.