August 2023

As the world forges ahead in the battle against climate change, governments across the globe are making significant efforts to reduce their carbon emissions in the coming years. Corporates have also joined the net zero movement with impressive targets and strategies. A key element of achieving net zero is the adoption of renewable energy.

However, our sustainability as a nation and as an industry in procuring and developing renewable energy is also becoming a critical aspect of the overall energy landscape, especially as we move towards higher penetration of renewable energy. From the manufacturing of important equipment such as wind turbines and solar panels to their operation, and even the extraction of essential metals through mining activities, adequate care should be taken to conserve precious resources and adopt net zero strategies.

It is also important to minimise wastage of critical metals and minerals during the manufacturing processes, and recycling should be incorporated to avoid an increase in mining activities. Meanwhile, a proper disposal mechanism should be established for wind turbines, solar panels and other equipment as they reach the end of their life. Fortunately, many manufacturers have already taken encouraging steps in this direction and others are expected to soon follow suit.

Optimal utilisation of dwindling resources such as land and water holds immense significance. Therefore, projects must be designed factoring in these elements and employing technologies that enable the maximum utilisation of these resources. Currently, floating solar projects are gaining traction for their ability to save land for other purposes and prevent water evaporation. Meanwhile, robotic waterless module cleaning systems are becoming popular as a means to prevent water wastage. With the green hydrogen industry gaining significant momentum, comprehensive planning is needed to ensure the optimal use of water resources.

Net, net, renewable energy can achieve true sustainability through minor adjustme­nts to existing operations and supply chains. Going forward, both governments and industries need to explore possible pathways for facilitating this transformation.