California’s dairyland power cooperatives are facing a new kind of pressure to reduce their carbon footprint.
A new study finds that the state’s dairy power cooperations have a “subtle” link between the number of hours they work per day and the carbon footprint of their products.
It’s a link that may be a key to the continued expansion of the sector, according to a study from Berkeley Energy Cooperative, the California Department of Forestry and the Cooperative Resource Management Agency (CRMA).
In a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers looked at carbon emissions and CO2 emissions from California’s power cooperages and found that the more hours a dairy cooperative works per day, the lower its emissions.
But they also found that carbon emissions from the power cooperats that are not operating at full capacity are higher than those that are.
The research suggests that it may be better to use the time a cooperative spent working on its operations as an opportunity to reduce its carbon footprint, the authors wrote.
“Cooperative activity has a positive effect on carbon dioxide emissions, but not the total emissions of all power cooperades,” the study found.
The researchers said the findings are the first to link time spent on cooperative activities with carbon emissions.
“We don’t know why it’s the case that the CO2 from cooperative activities is lower than the CO 2 emissions from other activities,” co-author Daniel Hirsch said in a statement.
“The most plausible explanation is that cooperative activity may be associated with lower CO2 emission, but other activities are not associated with higher CO2.”
Hirsch and his co-authors wrote that they believe the effect of time spent in cooperative operations on carbon emissions could be reduced by reducing the number and intensity of hours that dairy cooperative workers work.
“Time spent in a cooperative is associated with a higher amount of carbon dioxide, but this may not necessarily be an accurate measure of the total CO2 emitted by the cooperative,” they wrote.
The study also found some surprising correlations between CO2 and energy use in dairy cooperatives.
The energy use of dairy cooperative employees was not related to the number or quality of the cooperative’s operations.
Hirsch, who previously worked at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), said that when dairy cooperators used less electricity, they were burning more energy.
“But when they used more electricity, the total energy used was actually lower than when they did not,” he said.
“This suggests that if you have an energy intensive operation, the amount of energy you use may be more important than how many hours you work.”
The researchers also found a correlation between the amount and quality of cooperative energy used and CO 2 concentrations.
When cooperatives used less than 40 percent of their energy as energy, they had higher CO 2 levels.
“There are a lot of potential environmental benefits from working in a low-carbon cooperative,” Hirsch told TechRadars.
“That being said, if you’re working in an area that is going to be more heavily utilized by the power companies, then you’re probably going to burn more energy than if you were working in other parts of the state.”
The study authors say they are looking into ways to better understand the environmental impact of cooperative operations, and are working with California Department Of Forestry and CRMA to find out how cooperative energy use impacts greenhouse gas emissions.