How industry can slash 11% of CO2 emissions by 2030

Posted on 29 Dec 2023 by The Manufacturer

Industry’s reliance on fossil fuels for power, heat and feedstock makes it hard to see how the sector can reach pressing climate goals. However, new research shows it can cut a massive 11% of global carbon emissions by 2030 – relying on mature technology. Mike Umiker, Managing Director of the Energy Efficiency Movement, explains.

The Case for Industrial Energy Efficiency, published in October, lists 10 actions that industrial leaders can implement today and, if combined industry-wide on a global basis, could cut global greenhouse gas emissions by roughly four gigatonnes at the end of the decade. 

Four gigatonnes is roughly equivalent to taking three-fifths of all the world’s internal combustion engine vehicles off the road. And these are mid-range figures – at the top end, the savings could amount to around 5.3 gigatonnes or 15% of total carbon emissions by 2030.  

Best of all, the actions involved in achieving these carbon savings may require some capital expenditure but, in many cases, will almost be self-funding thanks to the financial benefits they yield.  

The research suggests global industry-wide savings could amount to $590bn a year by 2030, or perhaps even more since not all the actions presented are susceptible to financial modelling. 

The figures come from original research commissioned by the Energy Efficiency Movement (EEM), a forum of almost 400 industrial stakeholders, including global leaders such as Accenture, DHL and Tata Steel, seeking to create a more energy-efficient world.  

This latest research builds on the Industrial Energy Efficiency Playbook published by the EEM last year.  

This year’s guide is based on input from leading companies such as ABB, Alfa Laval and Microsoft, and contains expert contributions from the International Energy Agency (IEA).  

The IEA has long recognised the value of efficiency in meeting climate targets, labelling it ‘the first fuel’ and calling for a doubling of global efficiency-related measures to help cut almost a third of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.  

Apart from the tremendous power that the actions could have in enabling decarbonisation and reducing costs, a major attraction of energy efficiency measures is they can be introduced immediately, with little or no need for disruption of industrial processes.  

Action stations

Take the first two actions: auditing operations for energy efficiency and making sure machines are the right size for the jobs they do. Such actions are so fundamental they should form part of business-as-usual in most industrial businesses, but the fact that audits can still find energy use and cost savings of up to 40% indicates this is not the case. Other actions are similarly straightforward.  

Action three, for example, involves connecting industrial assets to the Internet of Things – something many companies are doing already for operational reasons. 

The modelling commissioned by the EEM suggests this could deliver up to $259bn in savings worldwide by 2030, while helping reduce the emissions associated with the electricity use of connected assets by up to 22%.  

Action four, meanwhile, relates to using more efficient motors, which again is something many organisations may be looking at already. Motors are classified according to international efficiency or IE standards that range from 1 to 5, and the differences between them are significant. Moving from IE4 to IE5, for instance, can cut power losses by 20%.  

What emerges from the new research is that industrial players have a vast resource available today for emissions and financial savings – but are not yet using it to their full advantage. Because of this, the guide calls for board-level sponsorship and a strategic approach to energy efficiency, treating it like any other transformational project. This is particularly important since the actions span a range of functional areas, from fleet management to data hosting.  

The division of energy efficiency potential into organisational silos could explain why its true benefits are overlooked, but the research lays bare the true value of a more holistic approach.  

It is important, too, to note that energy efficiency is a gift that keeps giving. Although the impact of the actions in the research was only modelled up until 2030, their benefits could continue until long afterwards. Indeed, in some cases – such as the electrification of corporate fleets – the biggest impacts could occur sometime after 2030, albeit that significant gains can already be achieved today.

Water positivity pushes ABB factory in India to the next level of sustainable manufacturing (click to expand)

ABB in India is leading the way in sustainable and responsible resource consumption in manufacturing after achieving water positivity ratings and Mission to Zero status for one of its factories in Nashik. 

Water positivity is the concept of returning more water to freshwater sources than is withdrawn, and maintaining sustainable water stewardship by establishing a framework for water management.  

The Nashik site, which covers 49,000m², has been certified as water positive with a water positivity index of 1.14 by the GRIHA Council (Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment), India. Mission to Zero is ABB’s global initiative to enhance energy efficiency and enable building decarbonisation, creating best practice solutions for manufacturing and production sites. 

The Nashik facility produces medium voltage (MV) switchgear as well as primary and secondary gas insulated switchgear (GIS) equipment to provide efficient power solutions across India. This equipment is critical to the continued urbanisation and electrification of the country and the provision of energy systems for sustainable transportation. 

As water is a critical issue for the country and globally, ABB in India made achieving water positivity a key goal. ABB hopes its operations will become a blueprint for its partners and customers in India – and globally – where water neutrality is quickly becoming as important as carbon neutrality in the fight to save the planet. 

To achieve water positivity, the Nashik site introduced a range of measures including a rainwater harvesting system to reduce run off and recharge the groundwater table and reuse the stored rainwater to meet other domestic requirements.  

The installation of water efficient fixtures reduced water consumption by 30%, and a drip-based irrigation system and sewerage treatment plant allow wastewater to be reused for irrigation and other domestic purposes. This ensures there is zero liquid discharge (ZLD) from the factories. The annual rainwater harvesting potential of the system is 34.486 million litres, which translates to 14 Olympic swimming pools worth of rainwater annually. 

ABB also established water meter monitoring and analysis to allow suitable action to be taken on water conservation. The company also invested in water management structures for the local water scarce area to capture rainwater in streams to be used by nearby rural villages for drinking and agriculture. 

The scope of the GRIHA water positivity certification is for the site only and does not include upstream supply chain for the water positivity analysis. 

ABB’s approach to responsible resource management includes reducing energy use and carbon emissions. Understanding that you can only improve what you can measure, Nashik achieved full visibility of energy use for the Mission to Zero factory using ABB Ability Energy Manager, a cloud-based solution that collects data from 76 sensors to monitor energy consumption and identify inefficiencies. 

To further reduce emissions, ABB’s factory in Nashik also invested in measures to improve energy efficiency using LED lighting, insulated wall and roof panels, more efficient air conditioning, demand-based lighting and cooling in meeting rooms, all managed via a KNX and Cylon building management system.  

Finally, 1MWp of rooftop solar panels were installed which provide 35% of the electricity needed annually to run the factory at a much lower cost than electricity from the grid. The factory operations use 100% green electricity, 35% from solar and the remaining 65% from International Renewable Energy Certificate (IREC).  

All these measures combined earned the Nashik facility a Green Factory Building, Platinum Rating Certification from the Indian Green Building Council. 

Ganesh Kothawade, President of Distribution Solutions, ABB India said: “The importance of reducing energy use and carbon emissions form a key part of our Mission to Zero journey.  

“However, water positivity is the next frontier in creating sustainable buildings which work in balance with their environment. ABB has shown how green manufacturing can be done to great effect to support the country’s energy transition, and we will be sharing our blueprint for success with our local and global partners to encourage more manufacturers to rethink their energy and water use.” 

Nashik India joins ABB sites in China, Finland, Germany Italy, the Netherlands and the US as a Mission to Zero facility.

To find out about the 10 actions, including three that can deliver around 70% of the carbon efficiency benefit available up to 2030, visit now for your free copy of the research. 

About the author

Mike Umiker is the Managing Director of the Energy Efficiency MovementMike Umiker is the Managing Director of the Energy Efficiency Movement, a forum that brings together like-minded stakeholders to innovate and act for a more energy efficient world.  

Through innovation, the sharing of knowledge and insights, adoption of available energy efficient technologies, smart investments and the right regulations and incentives, the EEM aspires to optimise energy efficiency and accelerate progress toward a decarbonised future. 

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