Enlit Europe - The Guide: Season 3 June 2021 - A Just Transition - Page 39

Matthias Rebellius outlines how energy-intensive industries can – and must – build sustainability into their operations

SMALLER FOOTPRINT , BIGGER IMPACT

Matthias Rebellius outlines how energy-intensive industries can – and must – build sustainability into their operations

Image credit : Siemens
Like the rest of the economy , industrial firms are emerging from a year dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic – some in a better position than others , on account of geography or their specific industry .
Irrespective of how they have weathered the year , right now we have an opportunity to move forward as part of the post-pandemic green recovery . Particularly as this year of uncertainty has shed a bright light on the other urgent challenge facing the world : climate change .
And so , we have reached a tipping point , with consensus solidifying around the need for significant concerted action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions . This applies equally to the industrial sector – even energy-intensive processors and manufacturers .
Action from this sector is crucial , given that industry accounts for a third of total energy consumption . Not only that , while other sectors , such as power generation , agriculture and households have begun reducing their emissions of greenhouse gases , industry has hardly budged , even in a country like Germany .
THREE LEVERS FOR EMISSION REDUCTION To address this , I see three levers to help industry pursue emission reduction and decarbonisation . The first is bringing greater flexibility in how energy is used , for example by adopting storage solutions and enabling virtual power plants .
Secondly , we need to digitalize operations to ensure energy is used efficiently . This can be achieved by implementing IoT devices , sensors , and software .
And last – but certainly not least – by enabling smart electrification across operations .
Of the three , smart electrification offers the greatest opportunities for decarbonisation , but can significantly benefit from the other two .
Within electrification itself , there are two aspects to consider : energy supply to the industrial site , for example , opportunities for zero-carbon renewable wind , solar , and hydro ; and energy management onsite , such as software-guided demand management .
The reason why electrification can have such a big impact on decarbonisation is that clean renewable power can replace processes previously driven by high-emitting technologies , such as diesel generators .
As a result , a process that previously produced high emissions now can produce zero , if supplied by renewable energy .
With regards to onsite energy management , opportunities abound because electrification opens the door to digitalization and smart electrification . These , in turn , deliver opportunities not only in energy efficiency , but also in
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