The debate: How does your work support a sustainable future?
17 July 2016
A panel of experts tell us how their innovations could lead to a greener, more sustainable future.
Executive director, Masdar City
Given projected demographic trends that assume rapid urban growth over the next few decades, there is an urgent need for secure access to sustainable energy sources through employing technologies and best practices that reduce water and power demand and minimise waste. Innovation is critical if we are to enhance energy efficiency, reduce pollution and build safe and efficient urban environments.
Masdar is leading the way in developing the cutting-edge solutions needed to ensure the environmental, social and economic wellbeing of tomorrow’s city dwellers. Since 2006, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company has evolved from a groundbreaking initiative into a global enterprise at the centre of clean energy and sustainable development.
Masdar has committed more than US$2.7billion to clean energy projects – both solar and wind – delivering nearly a gigawatt of power across the globe, with another 0.7GW under development. Also, through initiatives such as Masdar City, Masdar is helping to realise a template – or “greenprint” – for sustainable urban development.
Dr Neville Hargreaves
Business development director, Velocys
Waste is an increasing problem in the UK and across the globe. Landfill taxes are high; exporting waste is becoming more costly; and while incineration is an alternative, such projects can face opposition and planning restrictions. To date, other options have been limited.
Our company has intensified a well understood chemical process that can be used to convert post-recycled municipal waste (or the gas generated at landfill sites) to high-value liquid fuels such as diesel and jet fuel. For the first time such a plant can be sized to match the scale of waste collection logistics. This process can deliver up to 70 per cent lifecycle greenhouse gas reduction over conventional fuels, and as such will help the aviation industry meet its challenging sustainability obligations.
Picture a small scale waste-to-liquids plant at the waste processing facility of every large town or city, anywhere in the world, displacing local fossil fuel use. Velocys is working to make this a reality.
Head of innovation and energy futures, Northern Gas
The North of England is in a great position to lead the energy revolution. We have fantastic natural and human resources, world-class cities and universities and are already a major provider of renewable energy.
At Northern Gas Networks (NGN), we are working closely with our fellow utility companies, local authorities, regional businesses and central government, to put the North in the energy spotlight.
Together with our partners, we’ve launched several groundbreaking pilot projects, from exploring the potential to create the UK’s first hydrogen city in Leeds, to playing a leading role in understanding the opportunities for using the existing network to transport shale gas and more.
Through research projects and the creation of new industry forums, we are providing the knowledge and opportunities for collaboration that will help our region to be a key player in creating a sustainable energy future for generations to come.
Director of procurement, Opus Energy
Procurement at Opus Energy is founded on the principle of understanding the business need and putting this at the heart of any review or negotiation. But, in addition to this, constructively questioning the ways things have always been done can yield much greater and sustainable efficiencies, eliminating some costs altogether.
We’ve adopted this broader approach to make sure no process goes unquestioned. One example was the solution of sending cards to customers to submit their meter reading; a great problem-solver at the time, but review revealed that uptake was slow while increasing our contribution to landfill.
A constructive and positive examination of specifications and demand management can help cut waste and inefficiencies. We use ISO-accredited suppliers to ensure materials from expired energy meters are recycled, for example, while other businesses can benefit from building management systems that link lighting to movement and only heat occupied rooms. Sustainability requires a critical approach, but the long-term benefits are immeasurable.
0843 783 3421
Campaign director, Wood For Good
With the built environment a main contributor to carbon emissions, UK housebuilding activity is currently caught between two conflicting aims – fulfilling demand for 200,000 new homes per annum, and meeting targets set in Paris to tackle climate change. By using timber both of these challenges can be met, thanks to its energy-efficient properties and faster build times in comparison to traditional building methods.
Wood is the world’s only carbon-negative building material. It is unique in its ability to store carbon as it grows, the most natural and effective way of removing CO2 from the atmosphere. Increased use of timber in construction would not only promote sustainability through improved thermal efficiency in homes, but also by creating a supply and demand opportunity for commercial forestry, boosting carbon absorption by simply growing more trees. Climate change is very much a modern challenge, yet by using the world’s most versatile natural building material, wood, the UK can create a successful carbon storage mechanism for a sustainable future.