5 Solutions For Industrial Decarbonisation To Kick Off COP27
While COP has nothing to do with handcuffs and high-speed chases, the stakes have never been higher as the world hopes for game-changing, emissions-cutting, and climate-saving measures that COP27 - the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference - could bring.
World leaders from governments, non-governmental organisations and global businesses will assemble in Sharm El Sheikh for COP27 (Conference of the Parties) with the mission of accelerating global climate action through emission reduction, scaled-up adaptation efforts and enhanced financial support. We’re predicting lots of talk, lots of data and lots of targets.
This week, we want to give context to COP27 but more importantly, give industry the practical solutions they need to reduce carbon emissions.
What COP26 promised the world.
There were lots of promises made at COP26, including:
To secure global net zero by 2050 and keep 1.5°C within reach by advancing the “phase-down” of coal power, reducing deforestation, accelerating the switch to electric vehicles, and stimulating investment in the renewable energy market.
Commit to at least $100bn in climate finance per year - to help poorer countries cope with the effects of climate change and make the switch to clean energy.
Finalise the Paris Rulebook and accelerate action to tackle the climate crisis
To get revised, more ambitious NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions) from all countries before COP27 - in the form of the Glasgow Climate Pact. The current targets still leave a 2.4°C rise in temperature by the end of this century, not quite enough to meet the goal of 1.5°C set out in the Paris Agreement.
Good COP vs Bad COP.
While COP26 did not deliver all that was hoped for, there have been some victories as well:
Further investments in clean energy technology - partly fuelled by the war in Ukraine highlighting the critical need that energy security and clean energy go hand in hand. According to BloombergNEF, global investment in renewable energy reached a record high of $226 billion in the first 6 months of 2022.
Governments are making bold new decarbonisation commitments. The EU has brought forward its decarbonisation targets and accelerated the roll out of renewable energy through the plan. In the US, the Inflation Reduction Act features billions of dollars of investments for domestic renewable energy production, deep decarbonization solutions and improved energy efficiency.
More than 3,500 businesses have set targets for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions as part of the SBTi.
Though many pledges were signed and meaningful discussions were encountered at COP26, the world still has a long way to go. These pledges must be translated into concrete actions, as unfortunately:
Global CO₂ emissions are still rising. To have a chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C, global emissions must halve by 2030 and reach Net Zero by 2050.
Less than 1 week before COP27, only 23 countries have submitted their revised NDCs - the vast majority are from developing countries which make smaller contributions to climate change (G20 countries account for 80% of emissions).
This year, coal demand hit an all-time high. Coal production rose 11 percent in China and we also saw delayed plant closures across the UK and US — while Germany recommissioned coal facilities to prevent blackouts.
COP26 promised the world, but in the end, it may be remembered as that bad COP, full of empty promises, cheap coffee and really stale doughnuts. The reality is that we need action and we need it now.
5 practical solutions for industry to get you closer to Net Zero
According to the PWC Net Zero Economy Index, the global rate of deep decarbonisation needs to be 15.2% year-on-year to meet the climate goals agreed in the Paris Agreement and endorsed at COP26 last year. In 2021, the global rate was just 0.5% so we have a long way to go.
Hitting that 15.2% will be tough, but we have the tools to help. We’ve been taking action and decarbonising industry for the last 15 years, here are our top 5 practical solutions to get you closer to Net Zero:
Electrify your heat 85% of industry uses fossil fuel powered boilers to create heat/steam. Whilst burning fossil fuels to generate heat used to be the simplest thing to do, it is also the dirtiest and largest source of your on-site carbon emissions. Displace fuel by upgrading the quality of your waste heat with an electric heat pump and optimise your process with heat integration - know where your heat energy is going, what temperatures are required and identify where you can recover and reuse that heat.
It can be hard but our engineering team can help. Closing the loop will recover wasted energy, save on your bills and reduce your carbon emissions drastically. Our client, Fane Valley, saw a whopping 80% reduction in carbon emissions by extracting waste heat from production using heat pump technology. Read our full guide to industrial heat pumps to dive deeper.
If you do need to generate steam, do it efficiently! An efficient boiler is an easy place to save carbon because they are often overlooked in terms of maintenance and performance. Ensure your boiler expels the least amount of energy to your flue and maximise the use of your boiler water. But it is really worth asking yourself the question, when did you last optimise your boiler's performance?
Power your plant with renewable energy Make the shift away from natural gas powering production towards electricity and use solar/wind/batteries to smooth out the load - it’s that simple. Learn everything you need to know about solar farms.
Reinvent your process We’re seeing companies like Impossible Foods rethink the hamburger - making it from soya bean instead of meat. Can you collect the CO₂ out of your combustion gas (using cool stuff like cryogenics) and lock it into your product (we’re seeing examples where CO₂ is being forced into supplemental cementitious materials (SCMs) in concrete).
Big technology shifts typically cause rapid evolution - think VHS to DVD to streaming. How is climate change going to change the fundamentals of your business? Are you going to reinvent your business model or are you going to be made obsolete? The changes don't necessarily have to be radical - perhaps start by shifting from coal to biomass energy in your boiler or replacing your glass jars with foil pouches - but be under no illusions... your industry will look very different with a 75% cut in its carbon footprint.
Build a resilient, diverse, sustainable supply chain. Some 79% of your GHG emissions come from your value chain: your products, your suppliers, your distribution. Getting a real-time view of your supply chain emissions is a good place to start - see what’s working and what needs improvement to make significant progress in meeting your decarbonisation targets. How?
Measure it to change it. Do you know where your heat and power are actually going?
Knowledge is power. How well versed are your staff in climate impact? What about your board? Knowing what to measure and what the metrics mean is critical - getting the data for your operation in real time doesn't hurt either.
Inputs are half of the story, but what about your outputs? Can you increase yield? Avoid bad batches? Repurpose / upcycle waste? Carbon accounting = taking action to see the results, or spotting a problem
Play nice with others. With more renewables on the grid, help mitigate instability. With a large site, improve internal communications. [A big, easy win for our SME was installing a phone in a brewery so that the brew master could easily call the boiler house when they were about to start a new batch. That gave the boiler house time to ramp up the system for the 2h of intense steam use that happen every day - prior to that, the boiler was kept on high fire all the time]
Phone a friend. There's a lot happening in the utilities and carbon space at the moment, and new tech happens. You probably need to focus most of your attention on your core market and products, so things like steam, compressed air, cooling water and refrigerators systems may not always have specialists focused on them. Who's tracking new tech in those spaces for you? Vendors are great and can often come up with creative solutions... that include their kit. We are independent SME's here to help get to Net Zero, fast
We are done talking, it’s time for action. At COP27, the eyes of the world are once again on both global leaders and brands. Taking impactful action to get closer to Net Zero is vital—and every company must have a strategy for doing so.
If you want more information about how your business can reduce emissions as we move toward a greener future (hint: it's not too late!), schedule a call today!