How Technology Positively Impacts the Environment

In our current socio-political climate we are more concerned with environmental issues that ever. It is clear that technology has had an impact on the environment. Despite the often negative connotations of this impact, we should also look at the ways in which we do and can use technology to combat environmental issues and improve the planet’s overall sustainability.

As of 2018 there has been growth in the renewable energy industry with an increase of the adoption of renewable energy equipment by Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies. Many companies can benefit from being more environmentally conscious and i more ways than expected. For example, according to a 2015 Nielsen global online survey 66% of surveyed consumers agreed they would pay more for products from sustainable sources, with 77 % of Millennial consumers.

The benefits for going green in business include reduced expenses, gaining customers and boosting employee morale. It is time to focus on the solutions which we know exist or have the potential to be developed and this is where technology, along with behavioural change, can help us reboot the health of our nature and planet.

Going Digital

One of the most obvious positive impacts that technology has had on the environmental has been due to businesses moving to digital. Businesses and individuals are using way less paper than in years past, thanks to computers, smart-phones and Cloud storage. All of this adds up to a “new normal” that has lessened our dependence on the world’s tree population, and helped to reduce deforestation.

By moving to Cloud technologies businesses can save money and resources on managing and maintaining your digital systems. Rather than having to buy numerous and often expensive hardware, you can reduce your costs by using the resources of your cloud computing service provider. Cloud-based business infrastructures thus allow businesses to

Overall, harnessing the earth-friendly power of “the Cloud” is ultimately a smarter and more economical decision for business to make.

Renewable Energy Technology

Another major way in which technology has positively impacted the environment is through the development of renewable energy technology. Renewable energy, often referred to as clean energy, comes from natural sources or processes that are constantly replenished. With wind and solar energy leading the way for the renewable energy revolution.

“Going solar is not only the right thing to do for anyone who wants to reduce their carbon footprint but a financially viable option. With an average ROI of 12 years and the lifespan of recently installed solar systems expected to be at 20 – 30 years, it should be an easy decision for business to make,” according to Theuns Steyn, a Solar Technician at New Southern Energy.

There are a variety of solar technology systems that your business can invest in. Grid tied systems refer to systems which are still linked to the utility power grid, in SA’s case that would be Eskom’s grid. This solar technology helps to reduce the load required from Eskom’s grid. However, this does mean that your system is still grid dependant and will thus susceptible to power cuts and load-shedding.

The highly digital modern world demands a more reliable, even greener, grid, capable of providing high-quality power to facilities like hospitals or data centres, where even brief brownouts can cost money or lives. One such system would be a micro-grid system, which is not dependant on a utility grid. Instead of using batteries or a backup generator to carry the extra load of the grid when there isn’t enough solar energy available these systems make the user completely independent from an external utility.

Companies like New Southern Energy are changing the way in which solar technology is being viewed in Southern Africa. New Southern Energy has recently installed a state of the art micro-grid solution at the renowned fruit farm Marlenique, owned by the Van der Merwe Family of the renowned Boplaas in Ceres. The farm is located just outside Franschhoek. The floating solar system is the first commercially operational system to be installed in Africa and, at 60 kWp, it is by far the largest. The system was installed to float in order to spare the use of agricultural land. The water on which the panels float, help to keep the panels cool, thereby increasing productivity and in turn the panels help to the decrease the loss of water via evaporation. It is clear that there are many benefits of such a system

“In my professional opinion, going solar has become a no brainier,” said Steyn.

It is clear that if we don’t start to radically focus on environmental issues that we may soon start to feel the full effects of climate change and environmental damage. Perhaps the tools that we need to combat these effects may already be at our fingertips.