A somewhat unexpected news story broke last month when the United States and China issued a joint statement announcing a series of targets established for reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 2030.
U.S. President Barack Obama met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping to discuss the efforts the two economic superpowers have been making toward creating a cleaner, more sustainable society for future generations. While nothing monumental was announced, this is yet another clear indication that companies involved in the business of converting fossil fuels into consumable energy are going to have to change some of the ways in which they do business.
In China, where soaring electricity demand has led to a surge in coal-fired generation facilities, severe air pollution has forced the government to enact new environmental policies and establish new goals. At the end of 2013, about 10% of China’s power came from non-fossil fuel sources. The new goal is to double that percentage to around 20% by 2030. China is also committing to peaking its carbon dioxide emissions by that time, despite the growing demand for power.
In the United States, where similar commitments have been made in recent years, new goals were established. The U.S. intends to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030. This represents a substantial reduction in emissions that has already been characterized as “unrealistic”. U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell has suggested that the U.S. economy could not sustain such a drastic change.
While these new targets may require some drastic changes for power companies, and perhaps the goals are even unrealistic, there is no denying the fact that changes are inevitable. It is time to start investigating the options available to companies who want to start complying.
Obviously, updating equipment at power plants will be a necessity in many cases, as newer technology is inherently more efficient. Another option that should not be overlooked is the possibility of improving efficiency and reducing emissions by using software that empowers process optimization. It has been demonstrated many times in many different industries how the right software tools can improve efficiency, increase production quality, improve safety, reduce downtime, and reveal new opportunities for optimization.
Existing power plants must find a way to decrease emissions by 30% while keeping up with the substantial demand of the average consumer. That will likely mean they have to find ways to get the same amount of accountable power generation from fewer resources. Ultimately, the solution for most companies will require an investment in both new hardware and new software. Before you go out pricing the latest, cleaner generating technology, take some time to consider the software options that may be available to help you get more from your current processes.