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Is GenAI the key to sustainable industry?

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As the transformation towards Industry 4.0 reaches its peak, generative AI (genAI) is looking to redefine operational processes across diverse sectors: from custom automotive designs to optimised construction blueprints, genAI’s capability to design, prototype, and support customers is marking a new dawn.

THat’s according to research from says GlobalData, with Saurabh Daga, Associate Project Manager of its Disruptive Tech division, stating: “GenAI demonstrates the incredible possibilities of combining intelligence with industry. It can play a transformative role in predicting, designing, and improving processes and products. It is not just a new tool; it can be seen as a paradigm shift in how industries approach thinking, designing, and manufacturing. The ultimate promise is achieving a unique blend of creativity and efficiency that has never been seen before.

“GenAI algorithms can decode the understanding of technicalities across different sectors, like aerospace & defense, mining, and packaging, to create sustainable and efficient solutions. It enables industries to explore new areas of design and functionality. Moreover, when applied to sectors like energy & power, genAI can support sustainable solutions by aiding the generation of optimal designs for infrastructure and systems.”

GlobalData’s Innovation Radar report, “Code to Machine – Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) Meets Industrial Sectors,” delves into over 50 real-life genAI implementations. The report categorizes these implementations based on the end-use sectors and use cases.

Hyundai’s recently launched “Open for Imagination” digital campaign uses genAI to let users craft custom outdoor dreamscapes with the new SANTA FE. Using a text-to-image AI model, it generates unique images from user-selected keywords for moods and landscapes. Accessible through Hyundai’s official Instagram, it offers interactive, personalized engagement.

ABB partnered with Microsoft to infuse genAI capabilities into industrial digital solutions. This collaboration aims to enrich the ABB Ability Genix Industrial Analytics and AI Suite, increasing user engagement and optimizing the use of contextualized data for efficiency and sustainability. ABB is leveraging Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Service to complement the ABB Ability Genix platform.

Shell is leveraging genAI technology in its deep-sea exploration and production to increase offshore oil production. It is using AI startup SparkCognition’s large AI algorithms to analyze extensive seismic data to discover new oil reservoirs in the Gulf of Mexico.

Daga concluded: “GenAI is not just a tech buzz word; it may turn out to be a game-changer for industries. Its unique ability to design, predict, and optimize can reduce design constraints. By harnessing the combination of large language models with technologies such as IoT and cloud industries can enhance efficiency all the while embracing creative design ideas, eventually leading to an innovative future.”

Photo by Zac Wolff on Unsplash

Nanotechnology set to play big role in future supply chain efficiencies and sustainability

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Nanotechnology is making big waves in tech innovation, opening new opportunities in various industries like healthcare, agriculture, and aerospace, changing how we manage supply chains, develop products, and lead sustainability efforts across different industries.

That’s according to analysts at GlobalData, who see nanotechnology as a key player in shaping a future where innovative and efficient solutions are brought to life.

Kiran Raj, Practice Head of Disruptive Tech at GlobalData, said: “Nanotechnology is a hidden force transforming invisible atoms into game-changing innovations that touch every aspect of our lives, from medicine to farming. It’s the silent architect, building a resilient, sustainable future, where challenges like climate change and resource scarcity are met with innovative, scaled solutions. The technology thrives not just by scientific breakthroughs but leaps in computing, data analytics, and AI, demanding to navigate its profound impacts judiciously.”

Shagun Sachdeva, Project Manager of Disruptive Tech at GlobalData, added: “From microfabrication, nano bubbles to nano manufacturing and nano materials, nanotechnology is unlocking a world of possibilities by manipulating matter at the atomic and molecular scale. Signals from all angles right from policymakers, investors, technology companies, to researchers suggest that the optimism surrounding nanotechnology is justified. However, this industry shift is just the tip of the iceberg, which is defining the next stage of a highly disruptive journey, offering abundant opportunities to companies for exploration and value creation.”

The Innovation Explorer database of GlobalData’s Disruptor Intelligence Center spotlights five pivotal innovation areas across sectors, pinpointing the keys to higher efficiency, cost reduction, and enhanced sustainability that are imperative for the industry to flourish in the 21st century.

Nanotechnology in the healthcare sector is revolutionizing medicine through precise drug delivery, early disease detection, and advanced imaging techniques, promising improved treatments and patient outcomes. It has significantly improved medical diagnostics by making them less expensive and convenient. For instance, nanomedicines (smart pills), nanobots, nanowearables with nanosensors and nanofibers (smart bandages with nanoparticles of blood-clotting agents) remained in the spotlight.

In agriculture, nanotechnology is bolstering crop yields and sustainability through innovations like nano-based fertilizers, pesticides, and precision farming techniques. Developments such as nanoseeds, nanoparticle pesticides, and nanofeed are pivotal. For instance, in 2021, QD, a New Mexico-based nanotechnology startup, introduced UbiGro, a luminescent greenhouse film designed to enhance crop quality and yield.

Nanotechnology is enhancing the consumer goods sector, including food and beauty products, by delivering superior product quality, extended shelf life, and improved performance through innovative materials and delivery systems. In the F&B domain, giants like Kraft, Nestlé, and Unilever have utilized nanotechnology to create interactive food and beverages with nanocapsules that alter color and flavor, and spreads and ice creams with nanoparticle emulsions to refine texture. In personal care, companies like L’Oreal and Procter & Gamble are investing in nanotechnology applications like nanocrystals and nanoemulsions.

Revolutionizing packaging, nanotechnology introduces advanced barrier materials and sensors that enhance product preservation and safety, ensuring extended shelf life and minimized environmental impact. Companies like BASF and Kraft are pioneering the development of nanomaterials that not only prolong food shelf life but also indicate spoilage through color change. Moreover, Amcor has recently collaborated with Nfinite Nanotechnology to enhance its application in recyclable and compostable packaging.

Nanotechnology in the automotive and aerospace sectors is driving innovation with lighter and stronger materials, enhancing fuel efficiency and sustainability in the industry. Last year, General Motors (GM) partnered with Palo Alto-based startup OneD Battery Sciences (OneD) to use OneD’s silicon nanotechnology in GM’s Ultium battery cells.

Sachdeva concluded: “With the current scale of investments in nanotech, it is relevant to say that technology is making meaningful contribution across various sectors, and it will go a long way in transforming these industries in the 21st century. To handle several disruptive forces successfully, companies need to collaborate and indulge in responsible innovation, ensuring safety, ethics, and regulatory compliance to maximize their benefits and minimize potential risks.”

Image by Michaela, at home in Germany • Thank you very much for a likefrom Pixabay

Green holidays: Demand for sustainable power supply in tourism is increasing

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The holiday resort Hideaway @ Baxby Manor near York planned to expand their range of accommodations with the addition of several fully equipped holiday “Kabinas”. In the planning phase however, it became apparent that the limits of its 60A single phase grid-supply had been reached already. As the owners aim to offer eco-friendly holiday accommodations, they decided to complement the power supply with a 52kW solar array and a BYD Battery-Box energy storage system with 120kWh capacity.

This worked so well that today, most of the resort’s energy demand can be covered with renewable energy, while the grid power is used as a backup. This way the new “Glamping” accommodations do not only provide comfort and a bit of luxury but do this in a more sustainable way, as this Case Study explains

More and more holidaymakers are looking a way to reconnect with nature and for eco-friendly accommodations. But rustic camping in tents is not for everyone – especially if the weather is too hot or the one-week holiday includes four days of rain. Since its opening ten years ago the Hidaway has been expanding the choice of accommodations. The campsite for tents and campervans was complemented by fairy-tale like wooden cabins that look like Hobbit-homes or tree houses.

They offer a range of amenities – from simple wood-burners to fully equipped kitchens. The new addition of several  wooden cabins (Kabinas) come complete with kitchens, showers, lighting, air to air heat pumps and hot tubs. At this point camping definitely becomes “Glamping” and holidaymakers can enjoy nature while not having to forego the amenities of a modern holiday home.

When grid-power is not sufficient

Campsites usually need a power supply for campervans, joint bathrooms and often for a café, restaurant, or community room. Additional power-supply is needed for holiday cabins with individual kitchens and bathrooms. When the owners of the Hideaway decided to build three fully equipped new holiday cabins in late 2022, it became apparent that the 60A single phase grid-supply would not be able to cover the additional power demand. However, the cost to increase the grid connection capacity to this rural location would have been very expensive. Another consideration was to keep their site as eco-friendly as possible – even with a higher standard of amenities. Therefore, the owners started to explore options to supplement the grid power-supply with a renewable energy solution.

Together with renewable energy specialist Vero Power the Hideaway owners found the perfect solution: a 52kW pv system in combination with a 120kWh energy storage solution implemented with eight BYD Battery-Box systems. The new solution can not only cover the additional energy demand for the new accommodations but is able to cover the bulk of the resort’s power requirements with green energy. The existing 60A grid supply (8kW max draw) is utilised as a backup battery charger during times of poor solar yield, through a dedicated battery charger.

Solar power now covers 90 % of the energy supply

An array of ballasted tray ground mount photovoltaic systems are hidden behind a line of trees. Tucked away in the shadow of the trees is a container housing the energy management equipment, the eight 15kWh BYD Battery Box LVL battery storage systems, and four Victron 15kVA Quattro inverters with a single-phase configuration, controlled by a Victron Cerbo communication platform.

The system was installed in March 2023 despite the snowy condition in the north of the UK. In the first three months of operation, since the 29th of March 2023, the system has generated 12,408kWh of energy. Only around 10 % of the energy consumption (1,448kWh) has been drawn from the grid to top up the batteries.

“The Baxby Manor team has not only solved their short-term energy needs but also ´future-proofed´ their system. While in the past PV in combination with energy storage was often used as a backup for grid power, this example shows that the concept can also work the other way around”, explains Alvaro Garcia, Commercial Director, EFT Systems, European service partner of BYD Battery-Box. “I believe that being able to camp in a sustainable way is only going to make The Hideaway an even more attractive destination. By choosing a solution with a modular structure such as the BYD Battery-Box LVL, which is scalable at any time, electricity and storage capacity can be seamlessly expanded as demand increases, which would have been unthinkable with an expansion of the grid supply.”

“We have seen a dramatic increase in demand from customers across sector but particularly within the tourism and leisure sector such as holiday park and campsite operators look at ways to move to a more sustainable source of power for their business, whilst mitigating the extraordinarily high cost of grid energy”, said Craig Morgan, Chief Commercial Officer at Vero Power. “We are proud to be continuing our partnership with BYD in this installation. Their continued support, market leading technology and dedication to work with us hand in hand to ensure project success has been second to none. It is easy to see why they have been voted the ’Top Brand PV Storage’ again in 2023.”

Today holidaymaker arriving at the Hideaway will see children racing across the meadow, while parents are relaxing with a cool drink in front of Hobbit-like wooden cabins or families enjoying a hot tub bath after an exciting day of hiking and enjoying the great outdoors.

Corporate sustainability generating new business, not just carbon savings

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Sustainability is not just about compliance and added costs – it can enable long-term value creation for companies, and in many cases, sustainability efforts can help save costs on materials, electricity, and water consumption.

That’s according to the latest Sustainability Assessment: Large Industrial Solution Providers report from ABI Research, which asserts that companies that are solving climate challenges for customers are enhancing and marketing current sustainability-focused solutions, while also generating new business units and revenue opportunities from decarbonisation activities.

The research provides an ‘in-depth and unbiased’ examination of 10 of the world’s largest industrial manufacturing conglomerates leading the way toward sustainable manufacturing operations while reducing carbon emissions for their customers.

In the assessment, ABI Research establishes the sustainability positioning of each profiled company—leaders, mainstream, and followers— and provides company-wide best practices and external customer use cases for reducing carbon emissions, water use, and waste across multiple industries.

Kim Johnson, Sustainable Technologies Principal Analyst, said: “Our assessment highlights that all the conglomerates in the index are building businesses to decarbonise society. However, several have communicated ambitions to be global climate change leaders. They also do very well financially, even in a tumultuous market environment.”

Schneider Electric is a sustainability and energy management-focused company, targeting carbon neutrality within its own operations by 2025. In 2022, with sustainability at the core of its business, Schneider Electric had all-time high revenues and net income, despite global inflationary pressures; their energy management unit is up 13%, and industrial automation is up 10%. Siemens ranked second in the index in industrial digital automation and green buildings and vehicles while receiving solid scores for renewable energy use. In 2022, Siemens had record profits, with their digital business up roughly 15% and the industrial business up 17%.

ABB was also a leading technology implementer for industrial automation and robotics with year-over-year revenue increases in 2022, while Bosch, which has already achieved carbon neutrality for Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions (in 2020), had strong sales in 2021 and 2022 with climate response driving sustainable product development.

In 2022, Bosch’s corporate leadership stated that “climate action is driving the business forward” in mobility solutions, industrial automation, and building technology and appliances. Hitachi has also made significant investments in recent years for decarbonization, purchasing ABB’s energy and power grids business for expanding renewable energy, producing electric vehicle (EV) systems and infrastructure, and improving its Lumada solutions for industrial digitalisation.

For sustainability-focused efforts and revenue opportunities in the near term, ABI Research highlights increases in both industrial Information Technology (IT) investments, such as 5G connectivity, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and edge compute, cloud infrastructure and mobile applications, and Operational Technology (OT) investments, including digital platforms to conserve energy, promote greener buildings, enhance automation, and improve factory efficiencies.

For manufacturers, many of these IT and OT investments can help address the effects of inflation, skilled labor shortages, and supply chain constraints while also addressing climate change by enabling the reduction of energy consumption, water use, and waste.

In the future, ABI Research expects these industrial conglomerates to invest even further in a multitude of newer, wider-ranging sustainable technologies, such as bio-based fuels, lower-carbon materials, lower Global Warming Potential (GWP) materials, power grid innovation, energy storage, and hydrogen power.

For example, Honeywell already has more than 60% of product sales comprised of solutions that contribute to ESG-related outcomes, including bio-sourced materials, bio-derived plastics, hydrogen power, renewable power, energy storage, fleet electrification, sustainable aviation fuel, methane emissions monitoring and remediation, healthy buildings solutions, and more.

Moreover, the assessment found that large renewable energy units from Siemens, Hitachi, and General Electric are all working toward thoughtful, globally coordinated mineral sourcing and production schedules to meet future demand for renewable technologies and the increased transmission lines required for distributed energy networks.

“In learning more about these conglomerates and conducting the analysis for the assessment, we expected to find typical carbon reduction activities occurring within the companies, such as sourcing renewable electricity, improving the energy efficiency of operations, and addressing unabated emissions with carbon offsets. What surprised us was the depth and breadth of new decarbonization business units, products, software solutions, and consulting services, each directed at solving climate-related issues for customers. These solutions ranged from national-level mobility and infrastructure projects to greener chemicals used in consumer goods. These companies are all investing in a lower carbon future,” Johnson concludes.

Importance of data collection and reporting highlighted in sustainability research

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ABI Research’s latest Sustainability Assessment has analysed the sustainability activities of 10 of the world’s largest industrial manufacturing conglomerates, highlighting the importance of Scope 3 activities – particularly the robustness of data collection and reporting tools – for achieving industrial firm sustainability objectives.

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol defines Scope 3 emissions as all value chain emissions resulting from activities and assets not owned or controlled by the reporting organization. There are 15 Scope 3 categories, although some may not apply to all companies.

According to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), Scope 3 emissions typically account for over 75% of total emissions, with the share often being over 90% for companies in the industrial sector. For Schneider Electric, Siemens, ABB, and Bosch, who were classified as “sustainability leaders”, Scope 3 emissions are over 99% of total emissions.

Alex McQueen, Sustainable Technologies Research Analyst, explained: “Large industrials face many challenges in measuring and reducing Scope 3 emissions, as the process encompasses a wide range of activities from suppliers, consumers, and distributors. Measuring Scope 3 emissions requires dedicated resources, expertise, and specific data collection and management processes.” Large industrial companies may also find it challenging to obtain data from lower-tier suppliers that may not track their CO2 emissions. Additionally, there is no standardized methodology for Scope 3 emissions calculations and disclosures, creating difficulty in assessing the activities of a broad set of suppliers, each using different data collection and reporting methods.

As regulation regarding the disclosure of environmental data becomes more prevalent, companies should prepare by establishing a robust framework for measuring and managing emissions data. As a starting point, industrials with a high proportion of Scope 3 emissions should look to identify all relevant Scope 3 emission categories. After that, supplier engagement is vital, and industrial firms should seek support from third-party organizations, such as CDP Supply Chain and EcoVadis, in requesting and managing supplier emissions data. Companies may also tie requirements to provide environmental data into supplier contracts and set targets for reducing supply chain emissions.

“Investing in digital tools helps automate the collection, monitoring, and reporting of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) data, and they can also improve value chain collaboration. Since Scope 3 emissions calculations require the tracking of vast amounts of data, leveraging digital solutions is crucial for effective emissions management and reporting,” concluded McQueen.

Aston University awarded grant to make research more sustainable

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An Aston University scientist has won a $25000 grant in the AstraZeneca Open Innovation CoSolve sustainability challenge to help to make research more sustainable and environmentally friendly

Dr Vesna Najdanovic, senior lecturer in chemical engineering at the University’s Energy and Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI), successfully pitched her idea to explore a new method using ethyl lactate as a solvent.

Ethyl lactate is a biorenewable and environmentally friendly alternative solvent produced from lactic acid and ethanol, both obtained by fermentation of biomass. Currently hazardous organic solvents such as acetonitrile are widely used instead.

Dr Najdanovic won the AstraZeneca’s Open Innovation CoSolve Sustainability Challenge at the European laboratory research & innovation group (ELRIG) Research and Innovation meeting.

She said: “Throughout my research career, I have been working with various green solvents, such as supercritical fluids, ionic liquids and biosolvents, to improve chemical and separation processes.

“I am delighted to be selected by the expert judging panel and the highly engaged audience to apply my knowledge to develop greener analytical methods using ethyl lactate as a solvent for liquid chromatography.

“I hope this project will pave the pathway to use this environmentally friendly alternative solvent while reducing carbon footprint and pollution”.

The pharmaceutical industry generates the highest amount of waste per mass of products compared to other chemical industry sectors, such as the petroleum industry, bulk and fine chemicals.

Dr Kelly Gray, CoSolve sustainability programme lead at AstraZeneca, said: “In order to protect people, society and planet we have to identify and develop solutions to deliver sustainable science. The goal of the CoSolve sustainability programme was to do just that and identify innovative ideas to practical challenges faced by researchers across scientific disciplines in R&D.”

Sanj Kumar, CEO of ELRIG, said: “Ensuring that drug discovery processes become sustainable is a priority issue to the ELRIG community, so partnering with AstraZeneca on the CoSolve initiative, by hosting the pitching and final award ceremony, is not only an honour, but raises the awareness of sustainability to our community. Dr Najdanovic and her innovation are a worthy winner and ELRIG is proud that we are able to share her success story.”

As much as 80% of this waste presents hazardous organic solvents obtained from petrochemical sources.

For example, the pharmaceutical industry consumes 50% of globally produced acetonitrile, of which 20% is a solvent for liquid chromatography, a widely used analytical tool in research and development laboratories.

After its use, most acetonitrile is discarded as chemical waste and subsequently incinerated, generating greenhouse gases and other pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and highly toxic hydrogen cyanide.

The CoSolve sustainability challenge award builds on Dr Najdanovic’s previous work employing ethyl lactate as a solvent for various separation processes. Her new project supports EBRI’s wider objectives of using bioproducts to deliver low-carbon and environmentally sustainable solutions.

EU Hydrogen Bank could bring renewable hydrogen costs below 1 euro/kg

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By Jake Stones, ICIS

ICIS data shows that renewable hydrogen could be sold for below €1/kg if a producer obtains the maximum support provided by the European Hydrogen Bank, according to the heads of terms for the bank published by the European Commission on 31 March.

The bank, which was announced in September 2022, aims to support hydrogen producers using an auction bidding system, which ranks bidders according to price per kilo of hydrogen.

Utilising the Innovation Fund, the commission will allocate €800m for the first auction for support from the bank, with subsidies capped at €4/kg of hydrogen. The hydrogen has to be aligned with the delegated act for renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBO), also known as renewable hydrogen, and projects must reach full capacity within three-and-a-half years of being awarded funding. Funding is granted once hydrogen production starts.

Successful bidders will then be granted a fixed sum according to the volume bid, over the course of ten years. Bidders cannot win more than 33% of the available budget, and must have a project size of at least 5MW.


ICIS assessment data from 4 April shows that renewable hydrogen produced using a 10-year renewable power purchase agreement (PPA) starting in 2026 in the Netherlands would cost €4.58/kg on a project breakeven basis. For 10-year PPA renewable hydrogen, ICIS accounts for the recovery of the capital investment for the electrolyser over the duration of the PPA, meaning by the end of the subsidised period, costs would be recovered.

Given a hydrogen producer could receive the full subsidy of €4/kg, this would mean just €0.58/kg of hydrogen would be needed to achieve capital cost recovery, meaning the producer would need to charge buyers less than €1/kg to ensure project breakeven.

Comparatively, renewable hydrogen production in Germany commencing in 2026 and utilising offshore was assessed at €5.96/kg on 4 April, meaning post-subsidy hydrogen would be just under €2/kg.

However, given the competitive nature of the bid, namely that ordering is a result of lowest-bid first, there is potential that the full subsidy will not be awarded.

Further, the auction limit depends on volume and bid amount, meaning once the €800m is allocated, there will be no further subsidy for this round.

ICIS data shows that European hydrogen demand by 2030 is forecast to reach 10.3 million tonnes (mt) by 2030. If full subsidy was distributed to all bidders, it would cover just 200,000 tonnes of renewable hydrogen, just under 2% of projected demand by the end of the decade.

The commission is aiming to hold further auctions however, meaning that the €800m is an initial starting point, not the limit, for the European Hydrogen Bank.


Alongside the development of hydrogen support and therefore expansion of hydrogen supply, the bank mechanism indicated the benefit of the auction system for driving competition. By awarding hydrogen to the lowest bidder, and by maintaining an auction limit of €800m, participants are encouraged to reduce costs of production where possible.

The heads of terms document for the European Hydrogen Bank notes that a fixed premium, namely a single subsidy figure provided over the course of 10 years for every unit of hydrogen produced, was opted for due to the absence of price transparency in the current hydrogen market.

By utilising a fixed premium, there is no need for a market reference price, the document outlined.

During the pilot for the European Hydrogen Bank, just renewable hydrogen is being targeted. However, low-carbon hydrogen could be included in future iterations.

On the basis of price discovery, the heads of terms noted that the auction type was referring to as “static”, meaning bidders bid a single price that is not changed. The alternative was 

noted as “dynamic” whereby bidders could receive some information on the activity of other auction participants, providing a component of price discovery.

The first auction will be held in autumn of 2023.

Carbon management adoption increasing as part of corporate sustainable development goals

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As the urgency to combat global warming intensifies, enterprises are increasingly adopting rapid decarbonisation practices to align their business strategies with sustainable development goals (SDGs).

With a focus on addressing the dual crises of climate change and the ongoing destruction of natural ecosystems, businesses are at the forefront of sustainability efforts and are highly interested in investing in carbon management technologies to systematically reduce their CO2 emissions, says GlobalData.

Kiran Raj, Practice Head of Disruptive Tech at GlobalData, said: “From green financing and green buildings to green IT, investments in clean technology are on the rise, defying the considerable geopolitical and macroeconomic headwinds that affected most capital markets. The fast-paced adoption of carbon management technologies will continue in 2023 and beyond as governments, corporations, and investors increasingly collaborate to make the low-carbon future a reality.”

Shagun Sachdeva, Project Manager of Disruptive Tech at GlobalData, added: “Across the broad spectrum of carbon management solutions from new materials, clear sustainability disclosure standards, improved carbon capture techniques to more adaptive supply chains, companies are constantly innovating to stay ahead of the curve. The key for the companies will be to evaluate their strategies in light of growth and return projection and strike a balance between capability and profitability.

GlobalData’s Innovation Radar report, “Green business: How carbon management technologies help reduce CO2 emissions,” highlights how the real-world innovations in carbon management across industries can allow companies to either draw analogies with existing products, services, and processes or transfer strategic approaches for a revolutionary transformation.


Sachdeva added: “While there has been a slow yet steady rise in carbon management concepts such as carbon assessment, reduction, recycling, trading, and green fuels in the last few years, new innovations in use cases such as carbon capture & sequestration and green IT will take carbon management ecosystem to the next level.”

Carbon capture & sequestration

Carbon capture & sequestration will play a promising role in the energy transition, especially in heavy industries like power, steel, cement and oil and gas. It refers to the suit of technologies used for capturing CO2 produced during industrial processes. In June 2022, Italy-based startup Energy Dome developed a CO2 battery for long-duration energy storage. Energy Dome claims that the battery uses CO2 to store renewable energy on the grid and can be deployed anywhere. In March 2022, Danish green-tech startup Algiecel developed a photobioreactor based on a mobile container using algae to absorb CO2 emissions from industrial processes.

Green IT

Green IT or green computing covers information and communications technology (ICT) and computing technologies with lower carbon footprints. This starts with manufacturers manufacturing sustainable products to IT departments switching to more environmentally friendly options like virtualization, power management and proper recycling habits. In February 2023, a Taiwan-based manufacturer and distributor of computer hardware, Gigabyte, introduced next-generation servers with an aim to reduce carbon emissions with its green computing solutions. In January 2023, California-based Data Center-as-a-Service provider ECL launched a modular, environmentally friendly, off-grid data center that uses green hydrogen as its main power source.

Sachdeva concluded: “Despite a strong push towards carbon management solutions, the industrial application of carbon management technologies is still in its infancy and will take significant time to scale up. No major industries currently operate in an entirely circular way. Infrastructure implementation, cost control and standard as well as lack of efficient reporting frameworks being the key challenges at present, it will be interesting to watch how companies will strategically place their bets and meet their M&A targets that not only capture the climate-focused tailwinds but also keep them insulated from the macroeconomic headwinds.”

Europe takes the lead in sustainable growth: Digital Product Passports

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By Elena Rotzokou, Global EPR Researcher, Ecoveritas

The unprecedented number of Extended Producer Responsibility legislation that has been greenlighted since the advent of 2023 across Europe no doubt signals a new level of environmental awareness on a governmental, rather than merely social level.

European legislative bodies have mobilized themselves en masse since March 2022, which is when several proposals aimed at product sustainability saw the light of day, most notably a circular economy business model. All these proposals fall under the ambitious purview of the European Green Deal, first approved in 2020, whose goal is to achieve incremental sustainable growth so that Europe becomes the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. Green Deal legislation has proven most adaptable to the times. In the face of an era of overwhelming environmental catastrophe, which has just been capped with the war in Ukraine, the European Commission has issued a matching response: the European Digital Product Passport (DPP) initiative.

What are digital product passports? As the term implies, each product placed by a business on the EU market will need to carry its individual information passport, access to which will need to be provided via a data carrier to a unique product identifier (UID). The EU aims for a 2026 date by which to implement the legislation across three industries: apparel, batteries, and consumer electronics – with more to follow. Food and pharmaceutical products will be excluded. Through data transparency and accessibility, the product passport initiative seeks to raise awareness and encourage environmentally friendly action across all parties involved in a product’s lifecycle: manufacturers, distributors, and end consumers.

The logistics behind product passport use might seem complicated at first glance but are, in fact, straightforward: all a consumer needs to do is scan the product QR code with their phone to access DPP information. To help businesses understand their role in effectively making those passports a reality, several data specification standards have already been established at this early stage to demystify the process. For example, digital links accessible through a unique product identifier will need to be added to the products themselves rather than outer packaging or tags. Interested parties should be able to access information relating to raw materials, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and recycling options.

Traceability systems are to be in place to enable tracking all procedures leading from raw materials to the finished product. Measures will be taken to implement data collection and combination systems to meet the reporting requirements for the passports. Whoever on the supply chain brings a product to the market will carry the responsibility for guaranteeing DPP data accuracy.

As far as the packaging industry is concerned, a range of data availability requirements are expected pertaining, among other things, to product and product packaging weight and volume, durability, reusability, reparability, the presence of substances inhibiting circularity, energy and resource efficiency, recycled content, remanufacturing, waste generation, resource use, microplastic release, and carbon footprints.

In addition to batteries, apparel, and electronics, there is pressure on more industries to adopt the DPP initiative, such as textiles (especially furniture), plastics, chemicals, construction, and automobile manufacturing. Since the 31st of January and until the 5th of December, the European Commission is conducting consultation on various product categories that will be impacted by this law, such as textiles and footwear, furniture, cosmetics, aluminum, plastic and polymer, paper, and glass.

Legislation pertaining to data accessibility and traceability information has already affected EPR laws for plastics, and so DPPs should be a crowning moment in what is already an unfolding process. If all obligated parties cooperate effectively, digital passports might come to be an inextricable part of products, to the point where, ultimately, all products come to life equipped with passports.

2026 is not far away and further guidelines are expected to start trickling in throughout the coming months to inform obligated businesses of how they should expect to be impacted by DPPs.

About the Author

Elena Rotzokou is Global Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Researcher at Ecoveritas. She joined Ecoveritas immediately after completing a master’s degree in English at the University of Oxford. She has brought the advanced research, writing, and communication skills she honed during her academic studies to Ecoveritas, where she performs research on EPR regulations worldwide, writes reports and blog posts, and facilitates external liaisons with clients. 

Research urges more use of excess heat for energy

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New data from Danish engineering group Danfoss has highlighted the vast untapped potential of excess heat as a source of energy.

In the EU alone, excess heat amounts to 2,860 TWh/y, corresponding almost to the EU’s total energy demand for heat and hot water in residential and service sector buildings such as schools, hospitals, hotels, restaurants, offices and shopping centers.

A full implementation of technologies that tap into synergies between different sectors and enable a utilization of excess heat has the potential to save EUR 67.4 bn a year once fully implemented in 2050.

Every time an engine runs, it generates heat. Anyone who has felt the warmth behind their fridge can confirm this. The same is true on a larger scale in supermarkets, data centers, factories, wastewater facilities, metro stations and commercial buildings. Excess heat can be reused to supply a factory with heat and warm water or reused by neighboring homes and industries through a district energy system.

Using this energy that would otherwise go to waste can give a productivity boost to the economy and lower energy prices for consumers, says the whitepaper.

Utilizing excess heat can replace significant amounts of fossil fuels that are otherwise needed to produce heat. Used this way, excess heat can help stabilize the future electricity grid and thereby ease the transition to a green energy system.

In some countries the excess heat can even match the entire heat demand. In the Netherlands, excess heat amounts to 156 TWh/y while the heat demand is only 152 TWh/y.

Yet the potential of excess heat is not even close to being utilised and is politically ignored, asserts the whitepaper.

According to Kim Fausing, President & CEO of Danfoss, recycling heat is not only an overlooked measure in the current energy crisis, but also the next frontier of the green transition: “Energy demand is set to grow dramatically in the years to come due to population growth and rising incomes. Without urgent action to tackle the demand side of the green equation, using every single unit of energy more efficiently, we will not get on track to meet global climate goals,” Kim Fausing adds.

The whitepaper, titled ‘The world’s largest untapped energy source: Excess heat’ assesses the potential of excess heat as an efficient energy source. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), a global push for more efficient use of energy can reduce CO2 emissions by an additional 5 gigatons per year by 2030 compared with current policy settings. A third of the reduction needed in energy-related CO2 emissions this decade according to the IEA net zero scenario must come from improvements in energy efficiency.

In terms of energy security, these energy savings can help avoid almost 30 million barrels of oil per day and 650 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas per year (around four times what the EU imported from Russia in 2021).

“The potential in reusing excess heat is staggering. But we need to change our perspective on it and begin to consider excess heat as an energy resource instead of waste to be disposed of,” adds Kim Fausing.

“Today there are a number of barriers that prevent us from reusing excess heat including lack of information and regulation. We have to introduce economic incentives, policy measures and prioritization of partnerships between local authorities, energy suppliers and energy sources to help maximize the full potential of excess heat.”

Toby Morgan, Senior Manager, Built Environment, Climate Group, said: “The global energy crisis is a wakeup call to stop wasting energy, and Danfoss is right to call for governments and corporates to seize the enormous potential of excess heat. Now more than ever we need to make better use of the energy we already produce, we simply can’t afford to let it literally escape out the window. Energy efficiency improvements, like capturing and recycling excess heat, are absolutely critical to lower fossil fuel demand and lower bills.”