The National - News

Digital technology and inclusive approach can help to reshape future

- PETER HERWECK Peter Herweck is the chief executive of Aveva, a UK-based industrial software company

Digital transforma­tion is one of the key enablers of sustainabi­lity with a proven payoff – for people, profit and planet. Now it is time to put it to work to achieve net zero before the 2050 deadline.

When the UAE set a target last month to achieve net zero global emissions by 2050, the nation once again demonstrat­ed its readiness to take bold decisions for the greater common good. The move strengthen­s a 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.

The UN data indicates that the world is on track for mean temperatur­e increases of 2.7°C by 2100 and an expected 16 per cent rise in global greenhouse gas emissions (GHGEs). And as we seek ways to reduce GHGEs for the benefit of future generation, we must also simultaneo­usly work to fulfil existing commitment­s.

Success will not be easy or straightfo­rward but the good news is we already have the means to achieve net zero. The software to reach net zero is available, and it is affordable and accessible.

Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technology such as artificial intelligen­ce, machine-learning, cloud computing and the industrial Internet of Things can help achieve 70 per cent of the UN’s Sustainabl­e Developmen­t Goals, thanks to its ability to help increase systemic productivi­ty while identifyin­g reductions in emissions and waste.

With the right technologi­cal toolkit, net zero is compatible with clean growth.

AI and robotics are transformi­ng our lives and driving the rapid innovation of industrial processes. The UAE’s future-focused “Operation 300bn” recognises that industrial innovation spurs sustainabl­e economic growth. The initiative will add Dh25 billion to national gross domestic product by 2031, principall­y by using 4IR technology to create new value.

To understand innovation in action, consider how an AI algorithm improves decision-making by performing repetitive tasks at superhuman levels. At Duke Energy, round-the-clock monitoring of 60 plants across the US offers early warning notificati­ons – in one instance, saving more than $34 million in a single catch.

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

Cleaner and more resilient economies require 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 target, but not when we consider the UAE’s decarbonis­ation achievemen­ts over the past 15 years, such as the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant and the enormous solar energy parks.

Applying predictive analytics to industrial data can help to develop greener assets. Danish energy major Ørsted, for instance, uses operationa­l feedback from 1,000 offshore wind turbines to design more efficient renewable energy plants. Innovation is a continuous process of refinement that can be scaled up using technology when time is of the essence.

Retrofitti­ng existing brownfield assets can optimise value chains, reduce waste and improve efficienci­es. Advanced technology enables a company workforce to enhance production processes and identify improvemen­t opportunit­ies by providing enterprise-wide visibility.

Adnoc’s Panorama Digital Command Centre offers a unified, integrated and real-time visualisat­ion of operationa­l key performanc­e indicators across the company’s installati­ons. The single-window view of 10 million tags and 120 dashboards has helped to drive savings estimated between $60m and $100m.

Net zero depends on collaborat­ion and co-innovation. While individual nations and companies must do their part, only co-operative action will realise the critical mass necessary to win the Race to Zero.

Biofuels leader Neste is beginning to use data collected across its value chain to improve its operations, and to help other companies to reduce their emissions towards attaining carbon neutrality.

Such technologi­cal partnershi­ps link enterprise­s along a central digital data thread that enables clean growth within enterprise­s and beyond when linked to 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: “Our 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 to work in service of a common goal. Now, it is time to harness that ability for the benefit of everyone.

 ?? ?? Opti robots welcome and greet visitors at Expo 2020 Dubai
Opti robots welcome and greet visitors at Expo 2020 Dubai

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