Subscribing to our award-winning Hub enables readers to receive regular emails with the top articles most likely to interest them

We look at new ways of thinking

Britain is one of the first major economies in the world to halve its emissions, achieved by increasing our renewable electricity capacity five-fold.

However, in a recent attempt to see Britain part-way to energy independence, the government continued to push legislation through parliament that would mandate the licensing of new oil and gas projects.

Nonetheless the construction of any new oil or gas projects threatens to undermine the UK’s commitment to protect 30% of our sea's wildlife by 2030.

It will of course be considered that this doubling down on fossil fuels is not only short sighted but also prevents a brisk transition into renewables that our country, no, the world so desires.

Innovation, technology, and creativity will propel us forward, not the government's regressive oil and gas bill

Kirsty Hammond Kirsty Hammond Publisher and editor of Specifier Review

The need for clean technology

Where is the huge scale up of renewable energy that is imperative?

Unlike fossil fuels, renewable energy such as solar, wind and geothermal power do not emit greenhouse gases. By harnessing these clean energy sources, our built environments can drastically reduce our carbon footprint and help to eliminate global warming.

Renewable energy sources not only emit zero greenhouse gas emissions, they also allow us as a country to have energy security. Fossil fuels are finite, renewable energy is not.

We can generate energy in a clean and effective way long into the future, developing technologies can both accelerate and succeed.

All natural

The UN defines renewable energy as ‘energy derived from natural sources that are replenished at a higher rate than they are consumed. Sunlight and wind, for example, are such sources that are constantly being replenished.'

Using photovoltaic cells to capture and convert the sun's rays into electricity, solar power creates usable, clean energy.

It is also possible to utilise solar thermal power, which uses the sun to warm water that can then be stored.

Solar energy is currently one of our most affordable alternative energy forms, whereas Wind energy is one of the oldest forms of renewable energy.

Wooden windmills

Nowadays technologies have improved allowing us to generate electricity in more efficient ways.

In Sweden the world’s first full scale timber wind turbine is in operation.

Modvion has built a 105 m tower, made from LVL (laminated veneer lumber) and engineered wood, made from thin strips glued together, a method increasingly used in construction for load bearing structures and beams. A sustainable, strong alternative to steel.

"Our towers, just in the production of them, emit 90 per cent less than a steel tower that will carry the same work," Modvion chief financial officer Maria-Lina Hedlund told Dezeen.

"And then if you add the carbon sequestration, then you actually end up with a minus — so a carbon sink. This is great if we want to reach net zero energy production, and we need to."

Moving forward

Thermal energy in the environment is naturally replenished, heat in the air, ground, rivers and lakes can be harvested and stored.

Even when the temperature is below 0 degrees thermal energy can be captured. Ground source heat pumps can utilise this energy source for heating and hot water.

Traditional construction of course relies heavily on fossil fuels but over the last few decades our emissions from the built environment have reduced by almost a third. By embracing renewable energy construction projects can continue to reduce their carbon footprint further.

Newly constructed buildings are far more energy efficient already, retrofitting our existing housing stock remains crucial. Solar power on homes and buildings, heat pumps for warmth and water, all will contribute to our decarbonisation.

Innovation, technology, and creativity will propel us forward, not the government's regressive oil and gas bill.

Wearable renewables

Excitingly researchers from the University of Massachusetts, have developed a biofilm that is worn like a plaster. This can generate electricity to power users' wearable electronics using their sweat alone! The film is made by bacteria that can convert energy from the sweat's evaporation into electricity, meaning that compared to traditional batteries it does not need to be changed or charged whilst also cutting down the need for mined, finite metals.

This year saw Dutch startup Lightyear launch the "world's first production-ready" solar car, which has photovoltaic panels integrated into its roof, bonnet and boot that automatically top up its battery.

This type of innovation will assist in the adoption of electric cars, making their fossil-fuel counterparts less desirable. Not necessarily reliant on charging points and potentially free to run for the consumer!

Whilst existing under our government, will we be futuristic and innovative …

Kirsty Hammond is publisher and editor of Specifier Review