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Decarbonisation 101

A new buzzword has been floating around lately: decarbonisation. But what exactly is it? Keep reading for answers.



What is decarbonisation?

Decarbonisation is the process of reducing carbon intensity by shifting from a high-carbon economy that relies heavily on fossil fuels to renewable, low-carbon energy solutions, making the most of what we have available in terms of natural energy sources. The goal of decarbonisation is to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions in the global economy.


Decarbonisation needs to happen rapidly to address the current climate change crisis. At the same time, the shift toward electrification in industries is expanding the demand for energy. That means greater energy efficiency is a priority to meet emission targets and improve air quality and global temperature. The International Energy Agency estimates that the decarbonisation of energy systems must happen by 2050 if we are to meet this goal.


Drivers for decarbonisation

The 2015 Paris Agreement drives much of the change towards decarbonisation, with over 100 countries and many business leaders pledged to reduce carbon emissions linked to climate change, keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. Here are some drivers for decarbonisation:

  • Government

The government's commitment to renewable power and electrification fueled the push for decarbonisation. They can play two roles: setting policy and providing incentives. Government can implement measures to promote low-carbon technologies or reduce demand, such as energy efficiency programs. These policies also include subsidies and funding for R&D in low-carbon technology development.


For example, Australia reaffirmed its commitment to Net Zero emissions by reducing its emissions by 43% by 2030 in response to the 2015 Paris Agreement. This includes a $20 billion investment in Australia's electricity grid to step up decarbonisation and $3 billion to support renewables manufacturing and low emissions technologies. The government also invested in professional programs to support career development and job growth.

  • Investors

Investors' role in driving decarbonisation is being recognised as crucial as the shift to renewable energy gains traction as a mainstream energy source. Investors are prioritising companies with positive environmental impacts as the impacts of climate change bring about lasting reputational, operational and corporate governance issues to the businesses. Investors play a growing role in decarbonisation by supporting and encouraging companies to set a decarbonisation strategy, prioritise sustainable projects as well as finance the tools that help businesses advance their bottom line.


While not every investor is a financial institution, the latter's investments are often a significant driver for decarbonisation. As technological progress and innovation are integral to the industry's growth, it is no surprise that many companies respond positively to net zero carbon targets. As of 2022, ACSI's climate change disclosure report revealed that 95 ASX200-listed companies had made net zero commitments for 2050 or earlier, up from 49 compared to the previous period.

  • Consumers

Decarbonisation of the global economy is also driven by consumers demanding cleaner energy, products and services. As the climate change issues continue to impact lives, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impacts of their behaviour as they intend to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. This concern pressures the industry to act as consumers expect more companies to address the climate change crisis publicly and lead environmental initiatives by example.



Low-carbon energy sources

These are the primary type of clean energy sources:

  • Solar and wind

  • Hydropower

  • Geothermal

Different approaches to decarbonisation

There are several ways to reduce carbon emissions, including:

  • Electrification of major processes to improve energy efficiency (e.g. blast furnace)

  • Use of electrified vehicles (EVs)

  • Use of low-carbon fuels in place of coal and oil (e.g. hydrogen)

Mining areas that require decarbonisation

Decarbonisation in mining is required in the following areas:

  • Hauling

  • Processing

  • Transportation of commodities

  • Supply chain



Why decarbonisation matters in the Australian mining industry

The mining industry has long been a significant global carbon emission source, making it critically important to find ways to reduce the impact on the climate while maintaining competitive positions in an increasingly carbon-constrained world.


In Australia, mining is a significant player in the country's economy. Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that the industry employs over 180,000 people and remains the largest contributor to the economy between 2019 – 2020, representing over 10%, or $200 billion of the country's GDP. The industry's environmental impact is as significant, with mining emissions double the yearly carbon emissions of the entire domestic econo

With a global shift towards decarbonisation, the need for the mining industry to support the energy transition is a significant economic opportunity. Because Australia's economy has historically been based on carbon-intensive industries such as mining, it will experience significant changes in the coming years as its energy mix shifts towards low-carbon energy sources. Electrification is an opportunity to improve productivity and profitability while improving safety and reducing environmental impact.


Conclusion

The transition to a low-carbon economy is well underway, as governments, businesses and consumers all contribute to accelerating the process. For the mining industry, the move towards decarbonisation and electrification presents a significant opportunity to meet its environmental obligation while maintaining a competitive position.


 

How we can help you


At Divergent Engineering, we believe every project is a new opportunity to push past boundaries and achieve something new. We'll be your partner in the groundwork to accomplish your decarbonisation goals.


Our team of engineers has over 60 years of combined experience with a proven track record of delivering successful projects. We can provide engineering aspects of the design, construction, and implementation of next-generation flow batteries for energy storage applications to renewable energy and hybrid system design.


Our team is backed by extensive experience and a meticulous approach to designing optimal microgrid systems and simulation analyses. Ultimately, we can provide valuable insights into the challenges involved in developing and help identify potential solutions.


Contact us now!

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