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Greening The Grid, Not Breaking The Bank: The affordable way UK businesses can make a difference

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UK businesses are under increasing pressure to reduce their carbon footprint. Stakeholders, employees, customers, and the government alike are all demanding quantifiable sustainable practices. The good news? Going green doesn’t have to break the bank. Ripple offers a simple, affordable solution for businesses to take meaningful environmental action.

Slashing Carbon Footprints, Boosting Credibility

Ripple helps businesses to co-own renewable energy sources such as solar parks and wind farms. This allows companies to power themselves with genuinely green electricity, thereby reducing reliance on fossil fuels, and significantly lowering operational carbon footprints. Reduced monthly energy bills are a further benefit of embracing the cooperative energy ownership model.

“We’re increasingly thinking about the CO2 emissions impact of our manufacturing. The difficulty is, in most cases still, the greenest solution is not the cheapest one and in a competitive market place you’ve got to be competitive.” Darren Joint of Viking Signs, a Ripple business member, noted. “Consumers are beginning to choose the more sustainable choice and we’re trying to drive that with the tools that we can create ourselves. With Ripple the opportunity to create new [energy] generation was what we were attracted to. As with many SMEs, we don’t own our building, it’s leased. So that’s an advantage of the cooperative model of remote resource.”

Such commitment to sustainability not only benefits the environment and business bottom lines, but also demonstrates a company’s position as an environmental leader in its sector. This, by looking at alternatives to commonplace ESG strategies which can include corporate Power Purchase Agreements and green tariffs. Instead, with Ripple, companies directly increase the UK’s renewable energy capacity while also reaping profitable rewards.

Engaging Stakeholders, Attracting Top Talent

Stakeholders are increasingly scrutinising professional environmental practices and ESG strategies. Aligning with Ripple’s mission of green energy for all represents a significant step in the right, planet-first, direction. Furthermore, recent data suggests that employees are increasingly drawn to companies that prioritise sustainability and reward such operations with low staff turn-over, another significant cost-saving.

Making The Switch Is Simple

Ripple makes transitioning to renewable energy effortless. Interested businesses can use the online calculator to understand how much their chosen number of shares will cost and what this will mean in terms of monthly bill savings for decades to come. Flexibility is built-in with companies able to create a green energy portfolio across multiple projects, equating to a maximum of 120% of their annual electricity consumption. Purchase and onboarding can all be managed online, or with assistance from the Ripple for Business team.

Once a project is built and operating, real-time generation and savings data is displayed on a personalised dashboard, making stakeholder reporting simple.

Leading The Green Revolution

By partnering with Ripple, businesses can significantly reduce their environmental impact, contribute to a country-wide push for sustainable practices, enhance their reputations, and attract top talent – all at an affordable price. Ripple membership represents a growing movement of UK businesses taking a stand for a greener future, today.

‘Demonstrate climate leadership’, Ripple tells UK businesses

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To maintain credibility in an increasingly climate-conscious landscape, UK businesses are being encouraged to consider taking tangible action that will generate stakeholder and planetary benefits. Ripple–in particular–takes a proactive approach to helping companies progress their ESG strategies, through green energy ownership and environmental leadership.

Ripple’s latest project is Whitelaw Brae, a wind farm set to be the UK’s largest people-owned site of its kind. Located in Scotland, the site will be able to power more than 50,000 UK homes and businesses, while reducing carbon emissions and stabilising energy bills for everyone who participates.

Common sense climate action

Co-owning Whitelaw Brae will unlock a wealth of benefits for UK businesses. First and foremost, they’ll gain 30 years of stable energy prices, while being shielded from unpredictable cost spikes. Savings are applied directly to energy bills throughout the project’s lifespan, creating enhanced financial security. In addition, Whitelaw Brae is projected to be a masterclass in people-powered sustainability, saving an estimated 78,323 tonnes of CO2e annually. By participating, businesses will demonstrate a proactive commitment to environmental responsibility – a factor increasingly valued by customers, employees, and investors alike.

Ripple fosters a vibrant community of businesses that share a vision of a sustainable UK. Joining Whitelaw Brae connects a network of like-minded companies, presenting valuable collaboration opportunities and solidifying each operation’s reputation as a sustainability leader within its sector. It also allows businesses to align with a future-proof energy strategy. The UK government’s interest in renewable energy sources keenly positions Ripple members to navigate the evolving energy landscape with confidence.

Ripple’s community ownership model empowers businesses to take control of their energy future, alongside thousands of others. In addition to positive impacts on operational bottom lines, environmentally astute companies that participate will also actively contribute to a cleaner, greener UK grid and earmark themselves as climate leaders. It’s a win-win.

Ready to take action?

Visit Ripple today to learn more about becoming a member of the Whitelaw Brae Wind Farm and securing a sustainable future for your business.

CASE STUDY: Whatley Manor chooses Greenly to show the way towards greener wellness

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Having established itself as one of Britain’s environmentally responsible hotels over the course of five years, Whatley Manor has announced a new partnership with Greenly, a provider of carbon assessment and accountability solutions for companies of all sizes and from all industries. Here’s how it works…

The integration of Greenly’s software solutions allows Whatley Manor to measure and benchmark the impact of its sustainability actions in real-time, providing its management with actionable insights to deploy a coherent and impactful sustainability strategy. As a result of this collaboration, Whatley Manor will be able to simplify monitoring of all greenhouse gas emissions, including Scope 3 emissions emanating from its suppliers, making up an estimated 80% of a company’s carbon footprint. Such information will help Whatley Manor choose suppliers who share its commitment to the environment, helping guests to do their bit for the planet during their stay.

As calculated by Greenly, the hotel registered an impressive drop in its carbon emissions in 2023 as compared to the preceding year. Using the market-based approach, which takes into account the energy suppliers engaged by the hotel, Whatley Manor’s carbon footprint fell from 1778 tCO2e in 2022 to 1057.2 tCO2e in 2023. As demonstrated by the charts below, Whatley Manor has also reduced their carbon footprint by choosing more environmentally conscious service providers. This provides a clear example of Greenly’s long-standing belief that business can be made greener through a virtuous cycle of like-minded suppliers at every stage of the value chain.

For Greenly, this represents an important expansion into the British hospitality sector, accelerating its efforts towards debunking the conventional wisdom around the difficulties of decarbonising this sector, which currently accounts for 15% of Britain’s GHG emissions . Whatley Manor’s adoption of Greenly’s solutions reflects their commitment to a data-driven approach to addressing climate change, complementing existing ESG efforts covering energy efficiency, waste reduction, community engagement and funding climate action.

Carbon footprint of Whatley Manor – 2022 (Top) vs 2023 (Bottom). Source – Greenly

Michele Mella, General Manager of Whatley Manor, said: “Our collaboration with Greenly is the latest expression of our steadfast belief that luxury and the environment can coexist. We strive to deliver an exceptional guest experience while reducing our impact on the planet, and invite all guests and the community to join our commitment to sustainable tourism.”

For Alexis Normand, CEO and co-founder of Greenly, added: “The hospitality sector has a significant role to play in addressing the climate crisis, primarily by looking at all aspects of their operations and deploying more sustainable alternatives, such as seeking out more sustainable suppliers. We are pleased to work with a hotel like Whatley Manor which shares this vision, and look forward to helping them assess and manage their impact on the environment.”

The electronics trends manufacturers should know about for 2024

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Britain’s manufacturers have begun the year with renewed optimism, and the market sector of electronics manufacturing is no different. A growing number of UK manufacturers feel they’re moving ahead of their continental counterparts and are maintaining a positive outlook for the year ahead.

Increased automation, a focus on purpose-built solutions for healthcare applications and further usage of new technology are driving electronics manufacturing forward, with excitement in the sector around new innovations.

The recent news that Elon Musk’s Neuralink project has successfully implanted a brain-computer interface into a human subject’s brain gives an indication of the types of technologies we can expect to see in the short and long-term future.

Paul Dearman, Head of Business Development at specialist cable assembly and electronics manufacturer GTK, has noted a shift in the way that manufacturers interact with their suppliers, with increasingly more rigorous standards required, particularly for specialist projects. We spoke to him to better understand the other electronics trends that today’s original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) should be aware of for 2024…

Solutions for healthcare

With the release of the NHS’ business plan for 2023/24 in September, priorities for publicly-funded healthcare institutions like hospitals and care homes have shifted. Following the merger between NHS England and NHS Digital in February 2023, there’s a greater focus than ever on pushing the NHS forward using technology.

The NHS’ technological priorities for this financial year include delivering “technology upgrades across primary care,” “addressing legacy technology constraints,” and “leveraging innovation to transform health and care.”

“Demand for electronics to be used in healthcare applications is growing, as seen in Q4 of 2023,” notes Dearman. “Electronics producers who are unable to match the complex demands of the healthcare sector risk missing out on a significant chunk of business.”

Evolved manufacturing techniques

Expect technological advances to continue streamlining the electronics manufacturing process through 2024. Internet of Things (IoT) integration has increasingly taken precedence in the sector over the last few years, and that trend shows no signs of slowing down.

Automation will also become more important than ever in 2024 and affect an even greater number of business functions. Automation has already helped expedite the early stages of product development, enabling manufacturers to bring a product to market more quickly than ever. For instance, visualisation tools such as Graphisoft’s Archicad have made it far simpler to create serviceable early-stage designs, freeing up time and resources for the production process.

As such, says Dearman: “Firms who aren’t automating extensively can expect to get left behind by more efficient manufacturers.”

IoT for manufacturers and customers alike

Just as IoT has become an integral part of the manufacturing process, it’s also being increasingly implemented in both residential and business applications. As well as smart homes, business use applications such as supply chain management are becoming more common.

One of the impacts of the growing use of IoT and smart-connecting devices, according to Dearman, is the increased demand for reliable connectivity solutions. “These technologies have necessitated a call for reliable data and power transmission in non-standard settings – OEMs require cable assemblies and connectors that are robust enough to meet those needs in more difficult environments.”

OEMs should therefore be aware of the increased demand for purpose-built solutions, and consider how their existing infrastructure can adapt to support that.

Customisation is king

In 2024, expect your customers to be looking for more bespoke, customised solutions than ever before. Hyper-personalisation has been a growing trend across a range of sectors for a number of years, but demand for bespoke electronics is expected to increase during the year ahead.

Technological advancements are part of the reason behind this – the growing use of machine learning means that businesses can understand their customers in more depth than ever and cater to them more efficiently.

“The demand for personalisation is taking a number of forms”, says Dearman. “Whether it’s small customisations like one-off overmoulding or entirely bespoke solutions, firms need to be prepped to create built-for-purpose solutions.”

Capacitive touch solutions

Given the wide range of electronics that the average consumer interacts with during a given day, OEMs should consider the importance of UI, ergonomics and aesthetics when creating a device that’s designed for direct user input. For example, GTK reports an increase in the level of demand for capacitive touchscreens in its display solutions, as users have now come to expect on-screen controls.

Google Search data backs this up – searches for “capacitive touchscreen” and “capacitive touch sensor” have increased by 23% and 21% respectively compared to January 2023, indicating that demand for these solutions is growing, especially as they becomes more cost-effective for industrial applications.

Sustainability concerns remain vital

As net zero edges closer, businesses across the country are interrogating their operating practices in more depth. Sustainability is becoming a more important concern than ever, as stakeholders at every level become increasingly concerned about the provenance of their electronics.

Offering your customers alternative or sustainably sourced materials could be the difference between winning their business and failing to do so. Many of today’s alternative cabling solutions provide the same durability and performance as their traditional alternatives, so it’s worth considering whether your business has incorporated these into its new product designs.

“Understanding your customers and their habits for the year ahead could be the difference between your business surviving and thriving, so it’s vital to get in front of those trends and understand exactly what they need”, Dearman comments.

Photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash

Prepping for Net Zero: How your SME can create a Net Zero strategy

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Small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) are vital to the consumer fabric of the modern world and are responsible for between 60% and 70% of the world’s industrial carbon emissions. However, they’re often overlooked when it comes to national policy, with huge corporations usually afforded the focus of UK policymakers.

With Sir Keir Starmer’s recent announcement that the Labour Party will shred its flagship pledge to spend £28bn a year on renewable energy projects, the UK’s commitment to its net zero goals have been once again called into question.

We spoke to Charlotte Enright, Renewables Specialist at green finance experts Anglo Scottish Asset Finance, to discuss the state of the net zero landscape, how environmentally minded SMEs can overcome the obstacles they’re faced with and how to create a robust net zero strategy…

The onus on SMEs

The Labour Party’s U-turn on renewables spending mirrors a policy change by Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives back in September, where he decided to relax some of the country’s net zero commitments. This means that, irrespective of the result of the impending general election, the UK’s SMEs face uncertain governmental guidance when it comes to achieving net zero.

The lack of cohesive guidance has already caused problems for UK businesses, who face further uncertainty going forward. The 2023 edition of the Net Zero Barometer Report by the British Standards Institute (BSI) indicates that two-thirds of decision-makers at UK SMEs do not feel confident in their path to net zero.

Similarly, the same study showed that SMEs across various UK sectors are crying out for guidance from the government. 28% of respondents believed that educational projects would help them reach net zero, while a further 22% feel they need more information in order to get there.

Cultural change…

Money and funding issues aside, it’s particularly difficult for SMEs to completely adapt their business practices without total buy-in at all levels of the company. Enright advises that there’s no substitute for real operational change.

“Everyone, at every level of your company, must be pulling in the same direction to begin making real strides from a net zero perspective,” she states. “Too often, we’re seeing firms nominate dedicated net zero individuals or teams. These staff members are given the impossible task of reducing company emissions without sufficient funding or support from upper management.”

…from top to bottom

It’s not just the upper management who should be involved in the net zero process, however. SMEs should be looking to engage employees of all levels in net zero strategies. It’s often those who are working with company technologies and procedures every day who can provide the most insight into how to streamline those processes.

“Company-wide consultation on net zero strategy might be a challenge to organise initially, but it’s likely to lead to increased employee advocacy for your net zero program and the wider company alike,” says Enright. “Your company could even gain a competitive PR advantage by doing so.”

Increasing emission visibility

Once you’ve ensured that the entire company is onside with your company’s sustainability mission, it’s vital to take a strategic view in terms of monitoring emissions. “For most SMEs,” says Enright, “the best primary course of action is getting a handle on where exactly your emissions come from.”

Corporate emissions can be categorised into three distinct groups – or scopes – a system devised by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol – the world’s most-common greenhouse gas accounting standard. These are:

Scope 1 emissions

Emissions from sources that an organisation owns or controls directly – for example from burning fuel in a fleet of vehicles (if they’re not electrically powered).

Scope 2 emissions

Emissions that a company causes indirectly. These emissions tend to come from where the energy that the company purchases and uses is produced. For example, the emissions caused when generating the electricity used in your building would fall into this category.

Scope 3 emissions

Emissions that are not produced by the company itself and are not the result of activities from assets owned or controlled by them. These emissions are those that your business is indirectly responsible for up and down its value chain. Scope 3 emissions include all sources not within the scope 1 and 2 boundaries.

Understanding where the bulk of your company’s emissions come from is the first – and perhaps most vital – step in ascertaining your goals.

Setting goals

With visibility over where your company’s emissions come from, the next step is setting your goals. The best plans for net zero are regularly reassessed at regular intervals to ensure progress is being met. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-sensitive (SMART) targets of varying lengths are necessary to keep the big picture in mind and to meet shorter-term targets.

Planning for 2050 – the UK’s current net zero goal – should be the endgame, but successful net zero strategies must be reachable via a series of shorter two-to-three year targets that work in pursuit of the wider goal.

Success will look different for different companies. Your targets can take inspiration from similar, aspirational businesses, but must be tailored to you and your needs. The Oxford Martin Net Zero Carbon Investment Initiative has published a series of Principles for Climate-Conscious Investment to inform and guide your firm’s spend on the way to net zero.

Taking collective action

Collaboration with businesses across your supply chain is a great place to start your net zero strategy, enjoy increased visibility over results and maximise your impact. Most SMEs work regularly with partners or suppliers who will be in the same boat as you when it comes to net zero compliance – and working together can reap a whole host of shared benefits.

Consult with your partners to collectively adopt and promote net zero initiatives, and ensure that your entire value chain is contributing to reducing emissions. As well as helping progress each partner towards net zero, you will likely enhance your collective reputation as a result of standing together on environmental issues.

Recent months have also revealed strong results from a number of collaborations between larger corporations and SMEs. If your SME functions as part of the supply chain for a larger corporation, it may be worth discussing how they can utilise their resources to support associated businesses.

However, it’s vital that any net zero collaboration your business makes is aligned with the Green Agreements Guidance, monitored and administered by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). This set of guidelines can be used to ensure your collective green action does not fall foul of competition law.

Financial modelling

“The U-turns from both the Tory and Labour parties indicate just how volatile the net zero landscape is,” comments Enright. “So, it’s understandably daunting for SMEs to invest in sustainable infrastructure, particularly when we take fixed cost increases and inflation into account.

“One way to combat this,” she states, “is by first investing in dedicated sustainability modelling tools. These could take the form of training courses, to help better understand the risks associated with a sustainable investment, or a digital tool, to project the performance of your investment in various sustainable initiatives.

“Knowing how to accurately conduct sensitivity and scenario analyses could be the difference between rushing into an ill-advised outlay, or investing successfully,” she advises.

Accessing funding

Even with access to the latest financial modelling software and training, the amount of operational change required for some SMEs may be impossible using only internal funding. In the current landscape, it’s vital that mid-sized businesses are aware of the external funding facilities available to them.

These could come in the form of government funding. SMEs may be eligible for different government grants or loans intended for businesses investing in green technologies with a view to limiting emissions.

Dedicated green bonds and green loans are another valuable facility at your disposal. Global uptake of these green finance methods increased from $5.2bn to $540.6bn between 2012 and 2022, indicating the importance of green finance in the route towards net zero.

These are monitored centrally according to the Green Loan Principles (GLP), which dictate that you must report your company spend on green initiatives, as well as the impact those projects have made.

Enright comments: “Inconsistent messaging from UK leaders has made it difficult for SMEs to know where they stand with regards to national sustainability and how much of the weight of the UK’s net zero push falls on their shoulders.

“Regardless of what your company is being asked to do by the government, a net zero policy is important in terms of your company’s role in the wider push for sustainability. It can also give you a competitive advantage!”

With the right guidance, creating a net zero strategy for your SME need not be as as daunting as it might seem

Photo by Hendrik Schuette on Unsplash

New global alliance seeks to propel clean energy in emerging economies

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The World Economic Forum has launched of a new alliance to provide a platform for developing economies to raise awareness about their clean energy needs, share best practices and sustainably accelerate their energy transitions.

The Network to Mobilize Clean Energy Investment for the Global South is made up of 20+ CEOs and government ministers, including from across Colombia, Egypt, India, Japan, Malaysia, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Norway, Kenya and South Africa. The network will provide a collaborative space for its members to accelerate clean energy capital solutions in emerging market contexts – through innovative policies, new business models, de-risking tools and finance mechanisms – and exchange best practices for attracting sustainable flows of clean energy capital.

“Accelerating the clean energy transition is imperative to address the climate emergency, but current investment levels remain far below the scale and pace of change needed,” said Roberto Bocca, Head of the World Economic Forum’s Centre for Energy and Materials. “Unlocking this financing today is not only a key first step towards a secure and equitable energy system tomorrow, but represents a clear opportunity for businesses, as emerging economies account for the lion’s share of the global population.”

The Forum also released a new Forum report today, Building Trust through an Equitable and Inclusive Energy Transition, that outlines a framework to guide policy-makers and business leaders from the energy sector towards a just, equitable and inclusive energy transition, particularly in developing economies, which account for less than one-fifth of global clean energy investments. Its findings make clear that neglecting equity, justice and inclusivity could severely delay the transition, making it crucial to address these aspects holistically at all levels – local, national and global.

The overall annual investment in clean energy in the Global South needs to triple from $770 billion currently to $2.2-2.8 trillion by the early 2030s. While recent spending has increased, the report finds that it remains concentrated in a few countries and sectors, with over 90% of investment growth having occurred in advanced economies and China since 2021.

The network will be chaired by two global leaders, working closely with the World Economic Forum to shape its activities: Rania A. Al-Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation of Egypt, and Samaila Zubairu, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Africa Finance Corporation.

“The network will play a crucial role in bringing together public and private players to pinpoint investment needs, breaking down barriers, and unlocking practical solutions for a just, equitable and sustainable energy transition in the Global South,” said Al-Mashat. “This will be a new space for emerging economies to exchange best practices and lessons learned, and foster collaboration around value chain strategies, regulatory policies, and investment mechanisms. These issues and more are addressed elaborately in the “Sharm El-Sheikh Guidebook for Just financing”, launched during COP27 by the Egyptian Ministry of International Cooperation, with 100+ partners, which also introduces for the first time a definition for just financing.”

As well as galvanizing efforts around the energy transition, the new network highlights the growing importance and untapped potential of emerging nations to the global economy. Seizing these opportunities presents a dual opportunity, as it could help mitigate risks in emerging markets while also ensuring sustainable growth and positive societal impacts.

“The perception of high risk has deterred investments in emerging markets, particularly in Africa, over the years; yet, from where I sit, there is no shortage of de-risking instruments and bankable projects that not only deliver profitable returns but also accelerate development impact,” said Zubairu. “Mobilizing investment for the energy transition is now more urgent. It is time for us to shift the narrative surrounding the financing of clean energy in the Global South from an aid case to a viable investment opportunity, without which we will not reach global net zero.”

The network will also be critical in enabling clean energy finance and investment at the local level. In this context, a Colombia-focused workstream was announced today. The initiative will convene a multistakeholder working group focused on increasing capital for Colombia’s energy transition.

Photo by Andreas Gücklhorn on Unsplash

World Economic Forum urges businesses to help ‘close the climate action gap’

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The Alliance for CEO Climate Leaders, a CEO-led community facilitated by the World Economic Forum, has released a new report calling on businesses and governments to shift from incremental to systemic actions to meet climate goals.

The report, Bold Measures to Close the Climate Action Gap: A Call for Systemic Change by Governments and Corporations, was published in partnership with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and complements the State of Climate Action report launched prior to the COP28 climate change conference.

According to the analysis, while individual climate action has increased, collectively the sum is not sufficient to reach the level of systemic change needed. There is a 600-plus gigaton gap in national emissions reduction ambition and policy that needs to be closed to limit global warming to 1.5°C. As such, stronger government action is needed.

Meanwhile, looking at CDP data for the 1,000 largest companies globally, likely well over 10% of global emissions are in the supply chains of those companies– showing the dramatic systems impact that the world’s largest companies could have.

“The first UN global stocktake and the first part of this report have highlighted a large climate action gap that we are not on track to close,” said Pim Valdre, Head of Climate Ambition Initiatives at the World Economic Forum. “We need to urgently shift into delivery mode, focusing on immediate actions with outsized impacts. Enabling these actions calls for public-private action to drive the right policies, technologies and financial solutions needed to achieve a system-wide transformation.”

While COP28 showed new impactful steps, such as the global agreements to triple renewable energy and double energy efficiency by 2030, more is needed to deliver on commitments, the report concludes.

The Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, which consists of more than 120 top companies from diverse industry sectors and regions, representing more than $4 trillion in total revenues and 12 million employees, called for decision-makers at the international climate change conference to shift from incremental actions to those that can transform systems and reach exponential impact.

“While COP28 resulted in very good progress and many companies have already started climate initiatives, the sum of the parts is still insufficient. Companies remain constrained by obstacles such as high costs and interest rates, low customer willingness to pay, or a lack supporting permitting and regulations,” said Rich Lesser, Global Chair of Boston Consulting Group and Chief Advisor to the World Economic Forum’s Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders. “This report brings answers to these obstacles, with examples of practical actions that can transform systems from the inside. If all government and corporate leaders start acting on them now and together, we will go a long way towards the scale of impact that we need.”

Private-sector action

The reports asserts that companies can and should drive systemic impact beyond their internal initiatives, highlighting five actions with the potential for dramatic impact:

Government action

Governments have a large responsibility to deploy mitigation solutions in a just and socially acceptable way. The report highlights five priorities to help close the 600-plus gigaton emissions gap:

  • Move up net-zero targets to 2050 or earlier, increase near-term targets, and raise financial and technical support from higher-income to lower-income nations.
  • Recognize and put a material price on carbon.
  • Double financing and incentives and make public procurement green.
  • Remove obstacles such as permitting lead times, supply chain bottlenecks, skill gaps and social distrust.
  • If progress remains too slow, consider more drastic measures, such as hard technology bans, or massive adaptation and removal investments.

How to deliver these and other critical actions for the net-zero transition will be discussed by business leaders at a meeting of the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2024.

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.”

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

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

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.