Decarbonisation Technology - November 2021

Challenges and opportunities of achieving sustainable operations Managing the fragile balance of sustainability goals is a considerable challenge, and digital technologies are set to take centre stage during this transition Antonio Pietri Aspen Technology

G lobal efforts to improve sustainability and reach carbon-zero targets are increasing as a greater spotlight is put on these issues in the run-up to 2030 and the culmination of the EU’s climate target plan. For organisations across the capital-intensive industries, this upcoming deadline is just one of a whole host of drivers that are coming together to act as a catalyst for change and driving the urgent need for technology that enables sustainability and environmentally efficient operations. In Europe, we are seeing both

the entire EMEA region the challenges brought about by the pandemic since early 2020 have accelerated the process of putting environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives at the forefront of decision-making. ESG issues have motivated businesses in the capital-intensive industries for years, but the pandemic has acted as a catalyst for change – and placed these issues firmly at the top of the agenda for organisations across these sectors. Capital-intensive companies today are more committed than ever to meeting their sustainability targets. But why exactly is this? The societal lockdowns we have seen over the past 18 months have certainly played their part. As people were forced to reduce their movements and stop driving or flying, carbon emissions fell, as did demand for transportation fuels. A psychological barrier was therefore crossed and this has triggered wider change across the energy sector. With the evidence that people’s behaviour can palpably impact global CO 2 loading, corporate momentum, across the energy industries shifted perceptibly towards more aggressive sustainability targets. The drivers of sustainability across the industry extend well beyond COVID, however. Over the years, investors have differentiated their portfolios by offering ESG-conscious funds. These funds now represent a growing proportion of the investment funds in the marketplace, accounting for $51 billion of new money from investors in 2020. 3 That ability to access finance is pressuring

national and continent-wide initiatives that are making a positive impact on these issues. The European Green Deal, for example, proposes €1 trillion in sustainable investments over the next decade. 1 Moreover, France recently announced plans to

spend more than US$8 billion on a decarbonised hydrogen economy through 2030, beginning with a European hydrogen project in 2021. 2

Technology will play a big part not only in driving these initiatives but also, on a smaller scale, in enabling sustainability for capital- intensive businesses, where the latest systems and solutions can be used to help organisations reduce energy consumption, deliver energy efficiencies and support the circular economy. The role of the pandemic The pandemic has certainly played a role in accelerating the interest in sustainability and the push for technology that enables it. Across


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