Back to Aristotle's energy: create to stay alive
The word “energy” comes from the ancient Greek word “enérgeia” which can be translated into English as “being at work”. In addition to the scientific description of energy, the everyday expressions we use to refer to power, electricity, or heat are also consistent with Aristotle’s statement “power of action”. As can be clearly seen, the definition of the word itself contains a cause-effect relationship that ends in rebirth.
The source and consumption of our daily energy need significantly changed over the years. If we go back a few centuries, we would see that humanity relied on one or two primary energy sources. Until the industrial revolution, traditional organic waste such as wood, crop waste, or charcoal worldwide was the leading source. The 19th century can be called the “rise of coal” as it became the main source along with conventional wastes.
After the second half of the 1900s, the energy source in use started to be varied due to the distributed consumption between residencies, industry, and transportation. Both universal and individual needs of energy began to change in terms of source and size due to technological advancements in different terrains. A range of sources, such as oil, gas, and hydropower, took the role in the energy world. Nuclear energy was added to the list as late as the 1960s. The familiar terms “modern renewables,” primarily solar and wind, could only be added much later, almost at the end of the 1900s. It was always hard to record rapid energy transitions in the past rather than what we observed recently. Some recent energy transitions happened very quickly from conventional to renewables.
What is sustainable energy and how does it work?
We used to charge our “ancient” mobile phones every 3-4 days in the past. Now we charge mobile, smartwatches, tablets, and bluetooth headphones daily just for our everyday needs. Electricity is just the upper part of the iceberg for consumption, while heating and cooling are significant in energy demand. That is why the world turns its face from finite energy sources to sustainable energy use.
Sustainability is defined by the United Nations Brundtland Commission of 1987 as the ability of systems to meet the needs of current society without affecting the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Therefore, sustainable energy refers to using any source and type of energy that can meet demands without putting the resources in danger of running out. An important question stands out: how does sustainable energy work? The answer is short in words but long in the process: through sustainable development.
Sustainable development involves environmental, economic, and social aspects. There should be an interplay between the factors and the interaction of actions to meet the dimensions of sustainability. Kurita Group has introduced initiatives to follow internally and externally these dimensions. The activities for environmental improvement are defined as follows:
- Solving water resource problems
- Reduce waste on individual and industrial scales
- Realize and promote sustainable energy use
- Advancing industrial production technologies
- Develop innovations to increase production efficiency
- Contribute to the realization of the decarbonized society
The economic aspect of sustainable development starts with the contribution to the circular economy. The linear approach collects the environment’s material and transforms it into products to be consumed until discarding them as waste. The circular economy, however, follows three principles: reduce, reuse, and recycle. The featured difference of circular economy is the focus on sustainable products rather than a limited life cycle.
Last but not least, Kurita Group realizes the social aspects of promoting sustainable development internally as well as externally through the following fundamental actions:
- Provide highly safe services and products
- Conduct fair business activities
- Respect human rights
Acting today with responsibility for tomorrow
The UN General Assembly published the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which converged in setting 17 sustainable development goals specifically focused on areas where global actions are needed. These goals play a significant role for governments and organizations developing sustainability plans, prioritizing initiatives and technologies, and tracking progress.
Kurita Group has a framework of Global Sustainable Goals merged with its core values to create, develop, improve, and maintain water treatment technologies to pioneer shared value. Promoting innovative solutions for progressing changes in circular energy technologies and renewable applications became the primary business areas of our corporate philosophy.
Ultimately, there are many ways to produce sustainable energy, and Kurita strives to be leading and creative to be part of these new challenges in harmony.