Environmentally-focused search engine Ecosia has announced an investment of $23 million into solar energy platform Zolar to help households speed up the transition to renewable energy. The platform, Europe’s largest search engine, is also calling on businesses across Europe to invest in reducing the continent’s over-reliance on fossil fuels and to combat the climate crisis.
Even before the geopolitical events of the past week, the growing fuel crisis that has been affecting both the UK and Europe caused the import price for fossil-fuel energy to more than double between December 2020 and December 2021. This is now worsening following sanctions levelled against Russia for its illegal invasion of Ukraine. In contrast, renewable energy often comes from local sources and is largely insulated from external geopolitical threats.
As well, the recent IPCC report states the window of time for adaptation in the face of the climate crisis is rapidly closing. Delaying the transition to green energy and the associated reduction of carbon emissions will result in irreversible consequences for the world.
Investments in renewable energy within Europe would lead to savings of almost 2 trillion euros from not importing fossil fuels, as well as preventing 60 billion tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. Big energy companies are not afraid to make drastic changes when necessary, such as BP dumping its 20 percent stake in Russian gas company Rosneft with an immediate cost of $25 billion following international sanctions. Yet this urgency is missing when it comes to renewable energy - BP’s investment in renewable energy is expected to reach only $5 billion annually by 2030. If $25 billion was invested annually by global businesses in renewable energy, this would help speed up global transitions to greener energy and help limit the damaging effects of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet.
This is why Ecosia is calling on the private sector to take urgent steps to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and help accelerate the transition to renewable energy through green investments. Already the company has invested $7 million into renewable energy, which enables it to create 200 percent of the energy it needs to power its searches and data centres, so it can sell the excess back to the grid to power other households and businesses. In 2020 alone, this excess energy avoided 4,500 tonnes of emissions from coal power in Germany.
The new $23 million funding into solar energy startup Zolar, which makes solar panel installation more affordable and accessible to homeowners, will allow Ecosia to further double down its investment in renewable energy by empowering more people to access solar energy across Europe. This will enable the installation of solar panels on around 1,300 individual households, with each system absorbing an average of 4 tons of Co2 annually. This will help reduce reliance on oil and gas and pave the way to a brighter energy future.
“For too long we have depended on fossil fuels for energy despite the increasing warnings from climate scientists” said Dr Wolfgang Oels, COO of Ecosia. “This should no longer be an option anymore, not just for the planet but for the sake of the geopolitical crisis in Europe. Countries need to acknowledge and leverage the freedom that wind and solar power provides to their citizens by allowing it to be readily available locally. There is no excuse for inaction now; businesses, countries and citizens need to step up and make the change to renewable energy.”
Alex Melzer, CEO and founder of ZOLAR, added that the company calculated that if it covered every roof in Europe with a photovoltaic system, the company could offset the entire CO2 emissions of Spain, France and Italy together.
“This shows what a significant contribution to climate protection is possible when the vast majority participates” said Mr Melzer. “And the best thing about it is that homeowners benefit in several ways. With a solar system, you not only protect the climate, but you also save money.”
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