Digital transformation is one of the main catalysts for sustainability with proven benefit – for people, profits and the planet. Now is the time to put it to work to reach net zero before the 2050 deadline.
When the UAE last month set the strategic goal of achieving zero global net emissions by 2050, the nation once again demonstrated its resolve to make bold decisions for the greater common good. This decision strengthens the track record of leadership over the past 50 years.
Now comes the challenge of balancing our net zero ambitions with global economic growth that has so far relied on fossil fuels.
UN data shows the world is on track for an average temperature increase of 2.7 Â° C by 2100 and an expected 16% increase in global greenhouse gas (GHG ). And as we seek ways to reduce GHGs for the benefit of the next generation, we must also work simultaneously to meet existing commitments.
Success won’t be easy or obvious, but the good news is that we already have the means to achieve net zero. Software for achieving net zero is available, and it is affordable and accessible.
Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technology such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing and industrial Internet of Things can help achieve 70% of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, through to its ability to help increase system productivity while identifying emission reductions and waste.
With the right technological toolbox, net zero is compatible with clean growth.
In our experience, four key strategic axes stand out.
Unleash the power of Industry 4.0
AI and robotics are transforming our lives and driving rapid innovation in industrial processes. The UAE’s $ 300 billion forward-looking operation recognizes that industrial innovation drives sustainable economic growth. The initiative will add 25 billion dirhams to the national gross domestic product by 2031, mainly by using 4IR technology to create new value.
To understand innovation in action, examine how an AI algorithm improves decision making by performing repetitive tasks at superhuman levels. At Duke Energy, 24-hour monitoring of 60 factories across the United States provides early warning notifications – in one case, saving more than $ 34 million in a single take.
Industry 4.0 is here; how we channel its potential will determine how quickly we can reach net zero.
Designing better renewable energy installations
Cleaner, more resilient economies need renewable energy. The International Energy Agency says annual renewable electricity installations must triple by 2030 if we are to achieve net zero emissions. A formidable goal, but not when you consider the UAE’s decarbonization achievements over the past 15 years, such as the Barakah nuclear power plant and massive solar power parks.
Applying predictive analytics to industrial data can help develop greener assets. Danish energy major Orsted, for example, is using feedback from 1,000 offshore wind turbines to design more efficient renewable energy plants. Innovation is a continuous process of refinement that can be extended with the help of technology when time is of the essence.
Promote value chain optimization in existing industries
Modernizing existing brownfield assets can optimize value chains, reduce waste and improve efficiency. Cutting-edge technology enables a company’s workforce to improve production processes and identify opportunities for improvement by providing company-wide visibility.
Adnoc’s Panorama Digital Command Center provides a unified, integrated and real-time visualization of operational key performance indicators across all company facilities. The one-stop view of 10 million tags and 120 dashboards resulted in estimated savings of between $ 60 million and $ 100 million.
Build partnerships across the ecosystem
Net zero depends on collaboration and co-innovation. While nations and individual companies must do their part, only cooperative action will achieve the critical mass necessary to win Race to Zero and achieve climate positivity.
Neste, a leader in biofuels, is starting to use data collected throughout its value chain to improve operations and help other companies reduce their emissions with a view to achieving carbon neutrality.
Such technology partnerships connect businesses along a central digital data thread that enables clean growth within businesses and beyond when linked with suppliers, partners and peers. Data sharing can support net zero across the ecosystem.
We have a remarkable opportunity to reshape the future. The digital tools to do so are at hand, but the scale of our ambition suggests that only a multidimensional and inclusive approach can achieve net zero emissions.
I am inspired by the words of Sheikh Zayed, the founding father: âOur job is to do the impossible and achieve the unusual in the things that bring happiness to people.
The past year has shown that humanity is capable of achieving what seems impossible when we put advanced technology at the service of a common goal. Now, it is time to harness this capacity for the good of all.
Peter Herweck is the CEO of Aveva, a UK-based industrial software company
Update: November 24, 2021, 6:30 a.m.