Digital technology can help in reshaping the future

The digital transformation is one of the key factors for sustainability with proven benefits – for people, profit and the planet. Now is the time to put it into action to hit net zero before the 2050 deadline.

When the United Arab Emirates set a strategic goal of net-zero global emissions by 2050 last month, the nation once again demonstrated its willingness to make bold decisions for the common good. The move strengthens the leadership’s success story over the past 50 years.

Now comes the challenge of balancing our net zero ambitions with global economic growth that has so far been based on fossil fuels.

The UN data suggests the world is on the right track with mean temperature increases of 2.7 ° C by 2100 and global greenhouse gas emissions (GHGEs) expected to increase by 16 percent. And while we look for ways to reduce greenhouse gases for the benefit of future generations, we must also work to meet existing commitments.

Success won’t be easy or straightforward, but the good news is we already have the resources to reach net zero. The software to achieve net zero is available, and it is affordable and accessible.

Fourth industrial revolution (4IR) technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing and the industrial Internet of Things can contribute to 70 percent of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals thanks to their ability to increase systemic productivity while identifying emissions reductions To achieve development. and waste.

With the right technology toolkit, Net Zero is compatible with clean growth.

Four strategic key elements stand out from our experience.

Unleash the power of Industry 4.0

AI and robotics are changing our lives and driving the rapid innovation of industrial processes. The UAE’s forward-looking Operation 300 billion recognizes that industrial innovation drives sustainable economic growth. The initiative will increase the national gross domestic product by Dh25 billion by 2031, mainly through the use of 4IR technology to create new value.

To understand innovation in action, consider how an AI algorithm improves decision-making by performing repetitive tasks on a superhuman level. At Duke Energy, 24/7 monitoring of 60 facilities in the US provides early warning alerts – in one case, saving more than $ 34 million on a single catch.

Industry 4.0 is here; How we channel its potential will determine how quickly we can reach net zero.

Design better renewable energy systems

Cleaner and more resilient economies need renewable energies. The International Energy Agency says annual installations of renewable electricity must triple by 2030 if we are to achieve net zero emissions. A formidable destination, but not when you factor in the decarbonization achievements of the UAE over the past 15 years, such as the Barakah nuclear power plant and the huge solar parks.

Applying predictive analytics to industrial data can help develop greener plants. The Danish energy company Orsted, for example, uses the operational feedback from 1,000 offshore wind turbines to develop more efficient power plants for renewable energies. Innovation is a continuous process of refinement that technology can scale when time is short.

Promotion of the optimization of the value chain in existing industries

Retrofitting existing brownfield systems can optimize value chains, reduce waste and increase efficiency. Advanced technology enables a company’s employees to improve production processes and identify opportunities for improvement by providing company-wide transparency.

The Panorama Digital Command Center from Adnoc offers a uniform, integrated real-time visualization of operational performance indicators for all of the company’s systems. The single-pane view of 10 million tags and 120 dashboards has helped generate savings of an estimated $ 60 million to $ 100 million.

Build partnerships across the ecosystem

Net zero depends on collaboration and co-innovation. While individual nations and corporations must do their part, only cooperative action will achieve the critical mass necessary to win the race for zero and achieve a positive climate.

Neste, the market leader in biofuels, is starting to use the data gathered across its value chain to improve its operations and help other companies reduce their emissions in order to achieve carbon neutrality.

Such technological partnerships connect companies along a central digital data strand that enables clean growth within companies and beyond when they are connected to suppliers, partners and colleagues. Data sharing can support Net Zero across the ecosystem.

We have a remarkable opportunity to reshape the future. The digital tools are in place, but the scope of our ambitions suggests that only a multi-dimensional and integrative approach can achieve net zero emissions.

I am inspired by the words of Sheikh Zayed, the founding father: “Our job is to do the impossible and to achieve the unusual in the things that give people pleasure.”

The past year has shown that humanity is capable of achieving the seemingly impossible when we put advanced technology at the service of a common goal. Now is the time to use this ability for the benefit of all.

Peter Herweck is the CEO of Aveva, a UK-based industrial software company

Updated: November 24, 2021, 6:30 a.m.