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Counting carbon, not calories

Amish Sabharwal is the executive vice-president – engineering and simulation and member of the executive leadership team at AVEVA. (Image source: AVEVA)

Amish Sabharwal, executive vice-president – engineering and simulation and member of the executive leadership team at AVEVA explains why digitalisation will play a central role in solving the climate crisis riddle

From 6-18 November in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, heads of state, ministers, climate activities, civil society representatives, CEOs, and key negotiators gathered at the 27th session of the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP27) to marshal their efforts in the fight against the climate emergency. 

While every element of this was explored, a standout facet which was discussed in detail is the role of digitalisation and how the environmental challenge should also be viewed an opportunity to accelerate fourth industrial pursuits. 

This was a view presented by Sabharwal who spoke to African Review as he attended the conference in Egypt. He commented, “Something that has stuck with me was put forward by one of the professors speaking here. They said we have to start counting carbon like we count calories for a diet. What this really means is we need to make sure that every carbon molecule across customer supply chains is visible – this is the opportunity for a technology company like us.” 

AVEVA’s role in tackling the environmental challenge, Sabharwal continued, is to support the full spectrum of the industrial world and its customers. Traditionally this has been through utilising digital solutions to reduce operating costs and improving process safety but now there is a growing emphasis to lower carbon output as well. 

“15% of global CO2 can be abated through maximising energy efficiency in the industrial world. There are millions of plants around the world and the question is how do we improve the energy efficiency in those facilities? That is where digitalisation has a huge opportunity. 

“AVEVA is probably in 80% of industrial assets around the world, where we capture industrial data such as industrial, operations and maintenance data. We store this and we can then use it help build models in the future which can allow plants to operate more sustainably (alongside bringing down operating costs and improving process safety). Important here is collaboration, between organisations but, first, between departments and individuals within businesses. I think this concept will definitely help unlock the riddle of solving sustainability and an open economy based on free-flowing data networks will be essential here.” 

The other big opportunity for companies like AVEVA, Sabharwal continued, is in opening up new avenues for green energy. “I think the biggest bang for the buck, if I were to take away anything from COP27, is that hydrogen is the commodity that really has the potential to solve the climate riddle. AVEVA, in collecting and presenting industrial data in consumable forms, can help customers to build green, sustainable assets not to mention open up possibilities like carbon capture and sequestration.” 

Providing but one of AVEVA’s many examples of its work in this field, Sabharwal explained how for the Sener NOOR Solar Plant in Morocco, the company uses IIoT technology to collect data every millisecond which is then collated in a centralised operating environment for engineers to analyse. As a result, the operator was able to observe the optimal reflective angle of one million solar cells and adjust them to maximise the capture of sun rays and ultimately produce more low carbon energy, more efficiently.

Read the full interview in the latest issue of African Review here.