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How digital is helping accelerate net-zero
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Leveraging Digital Technologies to Accelerate Net-Zero

It has become commonplace for corporations, state governments and municipalities to have net-zero and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals. To achieve these goals, set against the backdrop of the Paris Agreement and limiting climate change to 2 ºC, decisions need to be made based on quantitative analysis. Clear tracking and transparent reporting of progress is key to appease pressure from both shareholders and stakeholders. This is where digital technologies must play their part in what is becoming a complex landscape of direct and indirect emissions, as well as supply chain and carbon offsetting transactions.

There are many solutions on the market for tracking emissions in different sectors, from direct scope 1 emissions to the environment in the energy sector, indirect scope 2 energy usage in building management and scope 3 emissions, such as materials used in construction or fuel. It is clear that digital tools and processes must be developed to collate this data comprehensively at a higher fidelity and frequency than is currently the norm to not only understand the as-is, but to set targets, scope projects and track progress against a corporation’s commitments, as well as changing policy mandates.

Enabling a More Sustainable Future with Digital Transformation

The digital transformation of many industries has occurred since the late 1990s however, industrial and energy sectors have only recently gathered pace with the advancement of digital twin technology to drive efficiencies across the full lifecycle of assets – from design through to build and into operations. While previously it was only specialist tech companies such as Siemens, Bentley or Aveva that were associated with the industrial and energy sectors, today tech giants – like Google, Microsoft and Amazon – are also moving into the asset-level interface with operational technology creating cloud platforms on which third-party solutions are co-hosted. This creates the opportunity to open different commercial models, such as SaaS to the industry. Sustainability is one of the major areas that can benefit from this changed approach.

Big tech’s interest in entering the traditional asset operations space doesn’t stop with their commonly known cloud platforms. Recent examples of technologies pioneered or acquired by these companies builds on their expertise in big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and scalable solutions. A notable illustration of this is Microsoft’s Bonsai solution using AI to optimise existing industrial processes. Technologies like this are key to the next level of efficiency across complex systems that traditional methods cannot achieve. Moreover, these new technologies are scalable and commercially attractive to drive large-scale uptake.

Domain Expertise Is Critical for Successful Transition

Unlike the traditional solution providers in the energy sector, the big tech companies are almost entirely license revenue driven, understanding that to scale they need to partner with domain experts for solution deployment and integration.

In Wood’s intelligent operations business we are already starting to see the benefits from these partnerships, using our digital integration expertise coupled with process engineering knowledge to deliver operations workflow solutions from environmental data capture, certification and reporting to AI driven energy optimisation. Further developments such as Microsoft’s sustainability cloud and similar initiatives with Google will open up more opportunities and help solve the challenges around carbon reductions. There is huge potential, but still a lot to be done if we are to truly use digital transformation to help drive sustainability. This will only be achievable through linking the power of partnership with strong domain expertise.

Leveraging Digital Technologies to Accelerate Net-Zero

It has become commonplace for corporations, state governments and municipalities to have net-zero and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals. To achieve these goals, set against the backdrop of the Paris Agreement and limiting climate change to 2 ºC, decisions need to be made based on quantitative analysis. Clear tracking and transparent reporting of progress is key to appease pressure from both shareholders and stakeholders. This is where digital technologies must play their part in what is becoming a complex landscape of direct and indirect emissions, as well as supply chain and carbon offsetting transactions.

There are many solutions on the market for tracking emissions in different sectors, from direct scope 1 emissions to the environment in the energy sector, indirect scope 2 energy usage in building management and scope 3 emissions, such as materials used in construction or fuel. It is clear that digital tools and processes must be developed to collate this data comprehensively at a higher fidelity and frequency than is currently the norm to not only understand the as-is, but to set targets, scope projects and track progress against a corporation’s commitments, as well as changing policy mandates.

Enabling a More Sustainable Future with Digital Transformation

The digital transformation of many industries has occurred since the late 1990s however, industrial and energy sectors have only recently gathered pace with the advancement of digital twin technology to drive efficiencies across the full lifecycle of assets – from design through to build and into operations. While previously it was only specialist tech companies such as Siemens, Bentley or Aveva that were associated with the industrial and energy sectors, today tech giants – like Google, Microsoft and Amazon – are also moving into the asset-level interface with operational technology creating cloud platforms on which third-party solutions are co-hosted. This creates the opportunity to open different commercial models, such as SaaS to the industry. Sustainability is one of the major areas that can benefit from this changed approach.

Big tech’s interest in entering the traditional asset operations space doesn’t stop with their commonly known cloud platforms. Recent examples of technologies pioneered or acquired by these companies builds on their expertise in big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and scalable solutions. A notable illustration of this is Microsoft’s Bonsai solution using AI to optimise existing industrial processes. Technologies like this are key to the next level of efficiency across complex systems that traditional methods cannot achieve. Moreover, these new technologies are scalable and commercially attractive to drive large-scale uptake.

Domain Expertise Is Critical for Successful Transition

Unlike the traditional solution providers in the energy sector, the big tech companies are almost entirely license revenue driven, understanding that to scale they need to partner with domain experts for solution deployment and integration.

In Wood’s intelligent operations business we are already starting to see the benefits from these partnerships, using our digital integration expertise coupled with process engineering knowledge to deliver operations workflow solutions from environmental data capture, certification and reporting to AI driven energy optimisation. Further developments such as Microsoft’s sustainability cloud and similar initiatives with Google will open up more opportunities and help solve the challenges around carbon reductions. There is huge potential, but still a lot to be done if we are to truly use digital transformation to help drive sustainability. This will only be achievable through linking the power of partnership with strong domain expertise.

Author
Shaun Johnston     
Director for Digital Integration & Innovation
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