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Circular Economy

Renewables - time to rethink the system

For renewables to achieve their full potential to transform our planet, we must redefine our energy system along circular economy principles

15/04/2022

The future of our planet relies on renewable energy. It is well on its way to fully replacing energy created from fossil fuels to heat our homes and power our transport. 

In Italy, for instance, Intesa Sanpaolo uses 100% renewable energy to power its buildings and operations, and it will achieve this worldwide by 2030.

By 2050, almost 90% of electricity generation will come from renewable sources. Wind and solar will generate almost 70% of the power we will use in our homes. Electrification is replacing combustion to power our travel. All of this work is moving us toward net-zero emissions targets.

Intesa Sanpaolo is committed to net zero by 2030 for the bank’s own emissions and by 2050 for its investment and financing portfolios. Since 2008, it has reduced its own emissions by 60%.

Clean energy generation, however, is only part of the renewable energy story. To ensure the future of our planet, we also need to review and revise energy storage and distribution. 

New methods of energy require a new system. For example, if we are reliant on energy generated by wind and solar, we need to use the latest technologies to store up energy we generate at windy and sunny times, to make sure we have energy all year round. 

The renewable energy sector needs to implement circular economy ideas to make sure it offers a full solution to the problems of our planet. For example, the polysilicon in solar panels needs to be replaced with a material that is in higher supply, such as perovskite. 

Wind turbines, made up of steel, copper, aluminium, rare earth metals and fibreglass, need to be built so they can be dismantled easily and recycled, making full use of the materials we are taking from the planet to create them and eliminating waste. Batteries for electric cars need to be made so that they can easily be broken down.

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