At Cerno we understand the importance of building products with integrity and building products to last. We understand that every stage of a product affects the environment, from the raw materials to the disposability of the product. After products leave Cerno, it is up to customers to make choices that will reduce their personal environmental impact. Although LED light fixtures are very energy efficient, they still consume energy. The energy being consumed is generated from many energy sources. In the United States and in most areas of the world, fossil fuels generate most of the of the electricity that is used. Fossil fuels have a huge impact on the environment. In 2011, electricity generated from fossil fuels made up 38% of United States’ total carbon emissions. To maximize the reduction on carbon dioxide emissions, we must explore alternative and more environmentally responsible ways to generate power.
A main source of electricity currently being explored is renewable energy such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric. In 2013, the United States produced 13% of our energy from renewable sources. The United Nations climate change assessment panel says that is not enough to reduce global warming. They are giving us a huge warning saying that if we want to see a moderate amount of global warming, globally we must produce at least 80% of our electricity using renewable energy sources by 2050. We do not have time to waste and we should not rely on one solution to solve this complex global conundrum. One solution that is being explored is large scale renewable energy projects, like Ivanpah.
Ivanpah, the largest solar thermal power project in the world plans to power 140,000 homes. Ivanpah’s innovative technology uses about 350,000 mirrors that concentrate the sunlight into three towers to heat water to turn it into electricity. It’s environmental achievements includes requiring less land, water, and impact to the land. The project went farther than that to ensure the local economy benefited by having local suppliers and workers. Ivanpah is a great example of a progressive project, that is appearing to yield great results.
Even with many great accomplishments, this project has environmentalists concerned. Located in the California Mojave Desert, it is home to many threatened, endangered, and protected species. Prior to the start of the project, studies found 17 tortoises on the site. However, during construction, about 170 tortoises were found. Although they will be relocated, the disruption of a threatened species can cause a chain reaction in the food chain. The reflective mirrors increase the temperatures of the area, which is raising concerns about bird and insect mortality. One other concern is the brightness of the tower may be a hazard for pilots flying over the area. Although many studies were done prior to developing Ivanpah, it is important to remember that there will often be unforeseen negative impacts to the natural environment by projects of this scale.
Ivanpah sets the bar on how we can reduce our carbon emissions in a truly sustainable manner. There needs to be many innovative solutions to solve this complex global conundrum. Massive projects like Ivanpah and Three Gorges Dam will be guiding us towards the future, but we do not need to wait for companies to invest in renewable energy, we can invest in renewable energy in our homes and in our businesses. There are many programs that offer financial incentives when you switch to solar energy or other clean energy technologies and practices. For those of you who live in California, The California Center for Sustainable Energy is a great resource to find programs that are helping Californians switch to clean energy.
One easy solution we all can do is to constantly evaluate how we can reduce our environmental footprint. Although it may seem like changes to our routines won’t make a difference, if we all make changes to our routines, we can make a difference. We do not have time to let renewable projects be the only solution in reducing carbon dioxide emissions, we can be part of the solution if we choose to be.