Fossil fuels or nonrenewable energy resources are no longer viable options, which is why governments, businesses, and even individuals have been adopting renewable energy resources as a sustainable alternative.
Sometimes the most important things are the ones we take most for granted. Take electricity for example, you presumably have a reliable source of electricity that you’ve used to charge the laptop, tablet, or smartphone being used to read this blog. Now think about your work, could you accomplish the many tasks you set out to complete today without electricity? Imagine trying to go about a typical day without it.
Energy runs our modern economy, but very few of us know how the energy we consume is created. Fossil fuels–made from coal, oil, and natural gas–have been powering our economies for over 150 years, and currently make up 80% of all the world’s energy.
But fossil fuels are running out, meaning we’re consuming these resources faster than they are being replenished, and are a major source contributing to climate change. Did you know that 89% of global CO2 emissions can be traced back to the burning of fossil fuels?
Keep reading to understand what these resources are and how you can be a part of the solution!
What are renewable energy resources?
Renewable energy resources are resources that are naturally abundant and will not run out faster than they are consumed. Also referred to as alternative energy resources, renewable sources are those that are recyclable. Some examples include solar energy, wind energy, geothermal energy, hydrogen fuel cells, hydroelectric power, ocean energy, and bioenergy.
Recent developments to the technologies that capture and store these renewable energies, along with the push to reach net-zero emissions, have lowered the price of these energy resources and boosted their popularity and accessibility. The use of renewable energy resources is increasing not only on the large scale, with local governments and corporations, but also on a smaller scale, with individuals and small-to-medium size companies.
The benefits of using renewable energy resources
The advantages of using renewable energy resources are extensive, both environmentally and economically. Some of the benefits of using renewable energy resources include:
- Less CO2 emissions – Most renewable energy produces no air pollutants, and those that do, such as energy created from geothermal and biomass resources, emit significantly less emissions than those from fossil fuels.
- A reduced carbon footprint
- Improved air quality and public health
- Less resources required
- Cheaper production
- Creation of more jobs – Renewable energy resources are labor intensive, whereas fossil fuels technologies are highly mechanized. In fact, jobs associated with renewable energy resources are projected to reach 42 million by 2050 or 62% more than what has been planned today.
- Lowering of electricity prices
- Less risk – The resources that are used to create alternative or renewable energy are boundless and are present in quantities that far surpass current and predicted demand.
How much of the world’s energy comes from renewable resources?
The demand for energy is increasing year on year and there is still a long way to go before renewable energy resources surpass those made from traditional fossil fuels. In 2019, renewable energy accounted for only 10% of the world’s energy and 30% of the world’s electricity.
The industry sector is the largest energy user, making up more than a third of global energy demand. Thus, there is a huge potential for major industries like construction to make the transition to alternative energy resources.
Renewable energy resources in the construction industry
Construction is going green. Are you? To lower costs and CO2 emissions from construction activities, all players in the industry must adopt renewable energy resources.
The top renewable energy resources powering construction sites are:
- Solar Energy – Solar energy is one of the most popular and widespread renewable energy resources on the planet. It’s produced by turning sunlight into electricity through solar photovoltaics (think solar panels!) or concentrating solar-thermal power. Advantages of solar energy in the industry are immense since it’s cheap and abundant everywhere. Even if it’s cloudy, panels can produce energy without direct sunlight. What’s more, new technologies that generate high temperature solar process heat are already being employed in the construction and cement industries to reduce CO2 emissions.
- Hydrogen Power Cells – Hydrogen power is another renewable energy resource with immense potential for the decarbonization of the construction industry. Because hydrogen fuel cells are scalable and portable, they’re an ideal energy source for impermanent construction sites. Hydrogen power cells work like batteries to produce electricity and heat, as long as fuel–in this case hydrogen–is supplied.
- Wind Energy – Wind energy is the fastest-growing power source in the world, so it’s no surprise that it’s one of the top renewable energy resources used in the construction industry. What makes wind energy so attractive to construction firms is that it’s a suitable energy source for areas unconnected to a power grid like construction sites. Construction companies can partner with wind farms to supply the power required. Moreover, wind energy is cheap and low in carbon emissions.
- Hydroelectric Energy – Similar to wind power, construction companies can buy this renewable energy from hydroelectric plants near their operations as an alternative to using generators and traditional energy. Hydroelectric energy is created by converting the kinetic energy of flowing water into electricity that is then stored within hydroelectric power plants. In fact, this is one of the oldest and largest sources of renewable energy and is currently the most widely utilized clean energy source worldwide.
How do these kinds of resources improve the construction industry?
The built environment contributes to 40% of global CO2 emissions annually. This is no surprise when you consider the amount of electricity required at construction sites, and not to mention the energy required once buildings are in operation. Renewable energy resources like solar, wind, hydrogen, and hydroelectric energy are helping to improve the environmental impact of construction and propel a spirit of innovation.
One notable trailblazer in the production of clean hydrogen is the startup HiiROC. This UK-based startup is transforming nonrenewable resources like natural gas and biomethane into low-cost, net-zero hydrogen. CEMEX and HiiROC are working together to increase the use of alternative fuels and improve thermal efficiency across the cement industry. CEMEX has been a pioneer in the adoption of hydrogen within the cement industry and partnerships with startups such as HiiROC exemplify the building materials company’s commitment to substituting the rate of fossil fuels in production kilns.
Synhelion is a pioneer in solar fuels that work as a carbon-free alternative to fossil fuels. Their innovative solution is a step towards decarbonizing the cement manufacturing process, which is why they’ve joined forces with CEMEX, with whom earlier this year they announced a breakthrough in cement production with solar energy. Together, the two successfully connected the clinker production process to produce solar clinker. Based in Switzerland, Synhelion offers a radically new approach to replace fossil fuels in cement plants with high temperature solar heat and captures 100% of carbon emissions.
How CEMEX Ventures helps the planet by promoting renewable energy resources
Following the temporary shutdown and slowdown of projects due to the pandemic, the industry is facing a pivotal moment now that activities have bounced back and are only expected to increase. The next years will serve as a turning point for the renewable energy transition, and major players are taking their responsibility in this transition seriously. 90% of the world’s electricity should come from renewable energy resources by 2050, so it’s time for construction to adopt sustainable fuels at all levels.
CEMEX Ventures, the Corporate Venture Capital and open innovation unit of CEMEX, is investing in Cleantech and Contech startups with solutions that play a role in the transition to a low-carbon environment by adopting renewable energy resources and making an efficient use of natural ones.
Although CEMEX Ventures is always on the lookout to invest in and partner with startups, it’s also dedicated to expediting their growth with CEMEX Ventures Leaplab, its acceleration program for high-potential early-stage startups.
Whether you’re an established startup looking for capital investment or a strategic partnership with a leader in the building materials industry or a young startup looking to scale your solution, get in touch with us and let’s bring renewable energy resources to the forefront of construction!