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#CircularTuesday: Promoting energy transition with the circular economy

energy transition - climateaction

#CircularTuesday: Promoting energy transition with the circular economy

Hello readers,

 

Welcome to #CircularTuesday on CleanbuildVoices!

 

The energy transition around the world is gathering momentum as countries move away from fossil fuels to a sustainable system that ensures that a wide range of raw materials is available to fulfill energy needs.

 

There have been conversations on the need to integrate the circular economy into the design of energy transition to ensure the world has a sustainable supply of raw materials. This is because the circular economy is a vital pillar of the energy transition.

 

By design, it aims to get the most out of materials and keeps them in use for a long period by designing them to be cycled back into the economy, thereby eliminating waste.

 

Considering targets to prevent global temperatures from rising above 1.5°C and 2°C and efforts aimed at phasing out fossil fuels such as gas and petroleum and rapidly transitioning to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydrogen, and geothermal power which are also causing an increasing demand for the critical minerals, it then becomes necessary to look to the circular economy to facilitate the energy infrastructure that the world needs.

 

Already, obtaining the materials used in manufacturing some of these renewable energy infrastructures are gotten through unsustainable mining processes. It is for this reason that the circular economy is recommended to reduce the dependence on mining and ensure the longer-term use of these materials if implemented at scale.

 

Also, the circular economy which allows for building energy transition infrastructure from secondary materials can be a source of low-carbon materials for the equipment needed for energy transition and this will also help with the transition to net-zero due to zero pollution advantage.

 

To create a truly sustainable energy transition, a circular economy needs to be factored in at the design stage of energy, allowing for easy disassembly, recycling, and disposal at the end of the cycle. This will also allow for the life extension of products as they will be designed for repurposing.

 

For example, used car batteries that can no longer hold a sufficient charge for the range needed in a motor vehicle can be effectively used in other applications that require lower performance, such as stationary energy storage to support the grid.

 

Governments must recognize critical materials as a key pillar of energy security over the coming decades, and put national plans in place as well as assess and mitigate economic risks. They must prioritize building recycling plants and enforce smart regulations aimed at encouraging product take-back, recycling, and reverse supply chains.

 

On the part of investors, they need to invest in some of the most promising start-ups who are working on the tough technical problems in the recycling value chain as well as offer financial products to their clients which enable new business models such as product as a service or leasing.

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