From Data to Decarbonisation: How IIoT Technologies are Paving the Way for a Cleaner Tomorrow.
The global push for decarbonisation has intensified and industries are seeking innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The importance of reducing GHG emissions cannot be overstated in today's world, as climate change poses significant threats to our planet. Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology can play an increasingly pivotal role in driving emission reductions across Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions if more Energy, Industrial and Manufacturing organisations adopt the technology and actively embrace the decision improving data that can be liberated from unintelligent assets.
IIoT refers to the interconnection and data exchange between industrial devices, enabling real-time monitoring, data analysis and automation. In this article, we will explore the different scopes of emissions, the applications of IIoT in reducing emissions, emerging technologies and the importance of measuring all three (3) scopes. By understanding and leveraging the power of IIoT, companies can optimise their operations, meet sustainability goals and contribute to global efforts in mitigating climate change.
Scope 1, 2 and 3 Emissions: A Brief Overview
Scope 1 Emissions
Scope 1 emissions are direct emissions from sources owned or controlled by a company, such as from the combustion in boilers, furnaces or vehicles. Examples include carbon dioxide (CO2) released from burning fossil fuels and methane (CH4) emitted during natural gas extraction. Scope 1 emissions are often the easiest to measure and manage, as they are generated on-site and directly linked to the company's activities. Reducing these emissions can involve investing in energy-efficient equipment, switching to cleaner fuels or adopting low-carbon processes.
Scope 2 Emissions
Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions from the consumption of purchased electricity, steam or other forms of energy generated off-site. These emissions result from the production of energy at power plants, which is then transmitted and distributed to the company's facilities. The carbon intensity of Scope 2 emissions depends on the energy mix of the region, with higher emissions associated with coal and gas-fired power plants and lower emissions linked to renewable energy sources. To decrease Scope 2 emissions, companies can implement energy efficiency measures, purchase renewable energy certificates or install on-site renewable energy generation systems, such as solar panels or wind turbines.
Scope 3 Emissions
Scope 3 emissions are indirect emissions that occur throughout a company's value chain, including upstream and downstream activities. These emissions can be challenging to measure and manage, as they involve various stakeholders, such as suppliers, customers and end-users. Examples of Scope 3 emissions include emissions from the extraction and production of purchased materials, transportation and distribution of products and end-of-life treatment of sold products. Addressing Scope 3 emissions requires a comprehensive approach that includes supply chain management, product design and consumer engagement. Companies can work with suppliers to promote sustainable practices, develop low-carbon products and encourage responsible consumption patterns among customers.
IIoT Applications for Emission Reductions
Energy Efficiency and Optimisation
One of the most significant contributions of IIoT in decarbonisation projects is enhancing energy efficiency and optimisation in industrial processes. By deploying IIoT sensors and devices, businesses can collect and analyse real-time data on energy consumption, helping them identify inefficiencies and areas for improvement. IIoT platforms enable industries to implement energy-saving measures, such as smart lighting, temperature control and process automation, which can lead to reduced Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.
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Moreover, IIoT integration with renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, can further optimise resource and energy use. IIoT solutions, like IIoT-enabled smart grids, can facilitate load balancing and demand response, ultimately reducing greenhouse gas emissions across all scopes.
Another key application of IIoT in decarbonisation projects is predictive maintenance. IIoT sensors and devices can be used to monitor the condition of industrial assets, such as machinery and equipment. IIoT analytics can then analyse this data, enabling businesses to predict and identify potential failures before they occur. By reducing equipment downtime and energy waste, predictive maintenance contributes directly to emission reductions in Scope 1 and 2 emissions.
An example of predictive maintenance in action is through the use of wireless vibration sensors and associated analytics. This technology enables businesses to deploy sensors in less than 10 minutes with no cables or Gateways and remotely monitor and control their assets in near real-time, ensuring that rotating assets are running at optimal performance. The more advanced IIoT solutions can also track energy consumption and GHG impacts and provide a cost to CO2 emissions.
Another example is through the use of wireless sensors to support online oil analysis. By providing real-time data and insights into the performance and health of motorised systems, this information helps companies to optimise their operations, extend maintenance periods, improve efficiency and reduce costs. The use of online oil analysis is also helping to make those who adopt the technology more sustainable and eco-friendly, by reducing the environmental impact of their operations and through identifying and addressing issues that may be contributing to environmental degradation.
IIoT monitoring platforms will also alert maintenance teams to potential issues, allowing them to address problems before they escalate and lead to increased emissions, contributing directly to reductions in Scope 1 and 2 impacts.
Resource Management and Waste Reduction
Effective resource management and waste reduction are crucial components of decarbonisation projects. IIoT can play a vital role in helping industries better manage their resources and minimise waste. IIoT devices, such as smart meters and waste sensors, can be deployed to monitor resource consumption and waste generation in real-time. This data can then be visualised and analysed using IIoT data analytics, enabling companies to make informed decisions on how to optimise their operations and reduce emissions across all scopes.
For instance, smart IIoT solutions can be employed in the supply chain to monitor and track the transportation of goods, ensuring optimal routes and reducing fuel consumption. This, in turn, helps decrease Scope 3 emissions associated with transportation. Similarly, IIoT can be used to monitor and control water consumption in industrial processes, reducing both water waste and the energy required for water treatment, further contributing to emission reductions in Scope 1, 2 and 3.
Evolving IIoT Technologies for Emission Reductions
Remote Monitoring and Control
Remote monitoring and control is a vital aspect and strength of IIoT solutions for emissions management. By leveraging IIoT devices and sensors, industries can collect real-time data about their operations and emissions. This data can be used to identify inefficiencies, detect anomalies and adjust processes to minimise environmental impact.
IIoT cloud-based technologies also provide scalable and adaptable solutions, particularly those that provide data using LTE communication protocols, allowing for seamless connectivity and assist sensor integration into many existing historian and CMMS ecosystems. This allows for comprehensive asset monitoring, as well as important insights into equipment performance and the creation of a connected network that allows for better decision-making.
Furthermore, remote IIoT solutions empower industries to monitor and manage their operations from a central location, reducing the need for manual intervention, removing the unnecessary travel to site and minimising the risk of human error. This centralised approach enables companies to optimise resource and energy use, ultimately leading to reduced emissions across Scope 1, 2 and 3.
AI and Machine Learning for Emission Management
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are transforming the way industries approach emission reductions. By integrating IoT devices and sensors with AI and ML algorithms, companies can analyse vast amounts of data (performance and emissions), predict trends and optimise processes for greater emission reductions.
For instance, AI-driven analytics can identify patterns in energy consumption, enabling industries to pinpoint inefficiencies and develop targeted strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Machine learning models can also help companies accurately plan maintenance schedules for high-value assets, leading to cost-effective maintenance and reduced emissions.
Moreover, AI and ML can support industries in meeting new regulations, sustainability goals and social responsibility expectations. By providing actionable insights, these technologies empower companies to make data-driven decisions, ensuring the highest scrutiny in their decarbonisation efforts.
Blockchain for Emission Tracking and Reporting
Blockchain technology continues to promise the potential to revolutionise the way industries track and report their emissions. By creating a transparent, secure and tamper-proof ledger of emissions data, blockchain can help companies demonstrate their commitment to reducing Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions and importantly, drive better collaboration across the Scope 1, 2 and 3 decarbonisation projects.
Blockchain technology has the potential to be combined with IIoT devices and sensors to create a decentralised emissions tracking system secure from Cybersecurity issues. These systems can collect real-time data from across the supply chain and record it on the blockchain, ensuring the data is more accessible and easier to visualise for stakeholders.
By enhancing transparency and trust in emissions reporting, blockchain can help industries meet sustainability goals and comply with regulatory requirements. Furthermore, blockchain-based systems can facilitate the sharing of best practices among companies, fostering collaboration and driving innovation in the fight against climate change.
Creating a Greener Value Chain
Why Collaboration in IIoT Adoption for Scope 3 Emission Tracking is Critical to the Decarbonisation Project’s Success
Addressing Scope 3 emissions effectively requires a collaborative approach, as these emissions often involve multiple stakeholders across the value chain. While it may be challenging to persuade suppliers and downstream partners to adopt IIoT and other carbon tracking technologies, especially when they face cost constraints, there are several strategies that can be considered to encourage participation and create a shared commitment to decarbonisation.
Encouraging participation from suppliers and downstream partners in the decarbonisation process will require a combination of incentives, communication and support. By developing partnerships, offering financial and technical assistance and fostering a culture of sustainability, organisations can motivate value chain partners to adopt innovative solutions for emission reduction and carbon tracking.
Some suggested approaches to support Scope 3 adoption are outlined in the table below.
Offer training, workshops and educational resources to help partners understand and implement IIoT solutions.
Improved knowledge and skills, better decision-making, increased sustainability performance.
Provide grants, subsidies or preferential pricing for partners that invest in IIoT technologies and carbon tracking.
Reduces financial barriers, encourages investment in sustainable solutions.
Share expertise, technology and best practices to help partners adopt and integrate IoT solutions.
Faster adoption of innovative solutions, streamlined implementation, reduced learning curve.
Joint Research and Development (R&D)
Collaborate on R&D projects focused on IIoT technologies and carbon tracking.
Accelerates innovation, promotes knowledge sharing, reduces costs for all parties.
Supplier Recognition Programs
Recognise and reward suppliers that demonstrate commitment to sustainability and emission reduction.
Increases motivation, builds trust, enhances reputation.
Establish Sustainability KPIs and Goals
Set clear, measurable sustainability goals and KPIs for suppliers and downstream partners.
Aligns objectives, ensures accountability, drives continuous improvement.
Table 01 - Example Strategies of How to Collaborate with Project 3 Across All Stakeholders from the Value and Supply Chain to Support Adoption
Revolutionising Sustainability in Industrial Processes
The Future Role of Industry 5.0 and IIoT Solutions in Addressing Scope 1, 2 and 3 Emissions
While the term might not be as widely recognised or established as Industry 4.0, Industry 5.0 generally refers to the next phase in the evolution of industrial processes and manufacturing.
Industry 5.0 focuses on bringing the human touch back into the production process. It emphasises collaboration between humans and machines, as well as the importance of creativity, customisation and sustainability. The idea is to combine the efficiency and precision of automated systems with the flexibility, problem-solving capabilities and emotional intelligence of human workers wherein Industry 5.0 aims to balance the benefits of automation with the unique qualities of human adaptability, creating a more harmonious and sustainable industrial ecosystem.
Accordingly, Industry 5.0 will inevitably impose a transformative potential in driving the adoption of IIoT and advancing decarbonisation projects across Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions. As Industry 5.0 emphasises human-machine collaboration and sustainability, this will likely have far-reaching effects on the industrial sector's carbon footprint. Furthermore, the synergy between human creativity and machine precision facilitates the development of innovative, low-carbon technologies and materials, thereby minimising greenhouse gas emissions throughout the supply chain and addressing Scope 3 emissions.
The Industry 5.0 paradigm not only promotes sustainable production practices but also encourages the design and creation of eco-friendly, customisable products that cater to the growing consumer demand for environmentally conscious solutions. This holistic approach to manufacturing and industrial operations is poised to accelerate the global transition towards a low-carbon, resource-efficient economy.
The industrial sector is pivotal in global decarbonisation and sustainability efforts. The Industrial Internet of Things, combined with AI, machine learning and blockchain, can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions across Scope 1, 2 and 3, contributing to a greener future. IIoT solutions, such as remote monitoring and control, facilitate better resource and energy management, enhancing operational efficiency and reducing emissions. The most prominent integration platforms ensure seamless communication between devices and systems through APIs for effective emissions management.
AI and machine learning technologies allow organisations to more easily liberate asset information and analyse massive amounts of data, optimise operations and plan maintenance schedules, thus critically lower their carbon footprint. Blockchain technology offers a transparent, secure ledger of emissions data, fostering collaboration and driving innovation in climate change mitigation.
Real-world success stories (example 1 and example 2) from the energy, manufacturing, transportation and utilities sectors exemplify the potential benefits of adopting IIoT technologies, such as optimising energy consumption, improving fuel efficiency and promoting renewable energy integration. To achieve comprehensive emission reductions, it is vital to consider all three (3) scopes in decarbonisation projects.
Scope 1 emissions can be mitigated through energy efficiency measures, process optimisation and adopting cleaner energy sources. Scope 2 emissions can be reduced by procuring renewable energy and improving energy consumption efficiency. Scope 3 emissions can be addressed through collaboration with suppliers and value chain stakeholders, promoting sustainable practices and monitoring emissions across the value chain.
Businesses should invest in research and development, collaborate with industry partners and engage with policymakers to create an enabling environment for innovation. This collaborative approach will help overcome challenges associated with IIoT implementation, such as legacy system integration, device management and potential cybersecurity concerns. Education and awareness-raising are crucial for equipping employees with the necessary knowledge and skills to utilise these technologies effectively.
In summary, the integration of IIoT technologies with AI, machine learning and blockchain holds immense potential in driving decarbonisation across Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. By embracing these innovative solutions and fostering a culture of collaboration, research and continuous learning, industries can effectively address climate change challenges and contribute to a more sustainable future. Businesses must take action and invest in IIoT technologies to not only achieve their sustainability goals but also enhance operational efficiency, reduce costs and remain competitive in the evolving global market. We all owe each other this much.
Lets work together to harness the transformative power of IIoT and decarbonisation strategies across Scopes 1, 2 and 3 to unlock sustainable growth and build a resilient future, all while showcasing your company as a pioneering leader in the fight against climate change.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding IIoT and Decarbonisation Projects
Q: How can IIoT help companies meet regulatory requirements for greenhouse gas emissions reporting across Scopes 1, 2 and 3?
A: IIoT technologies enable real-time monitoring and data collection, allowing companies to accurately report their emissions across all scopes, ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements and fostering transparency in their decarbonisation efforts.
Q: How can IIoT technologies support the implementation of carbon pricing and emission trading schemes?
A: By providing accurate and real-time data on greenhouse gas emissions, IIoT technologies can facilitate the implementation of carbon pricing mechanisms and emissions trading schemes, helping companies to better manage their carbon footprint and comply with existing and potential future regulations.
Q: How can IIoT improve transparency and stakeholder engagement in decarbonisation projects across Scopes 1, 2 and 3?
A: IIoT technologies can enhance transparency by providing real-time, accessible data on emissions and decarbonisation efforts. This increased visibility can help engage stakeholders, such as investors, customers and regulators, foster a collaborative approach to tackling climate change and driving decarbonisation across all scopes.
Q: How can companies measure the success of their IIoT-driven decarbonisation projects across Scopes 1, 2 and 3?
A: Companies can measure success by monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs) related to emissions reduction, energy efficiency and overall sustainability performance, as well as by evaluating the return on investment (ROI) of their IIoT-driven decarbonisation initiatives.
Q: How can integrating IIoT with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies enhance decarbonisation efforts across Scopes 1, 2 and 3?
A: Integrating IIoT sensors with AI and ML technologies can provide advanced analytics and insights, enabling companies to make data-driven decisions and optimise decarbonisation efforts. These technologies can help predict equipment failure, optimise energy usage and identify patterns in emissions data, ultimately driving more effective and targeted strategies to reduce emissions across all scopes.
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Special thanks to Mr Tony Nitchov for his expert contributions to this article.
Miniotec is a digital consulting and technology solutions provider, dedicated to supporting companies in their digital transformation journeys. Established by a group of experienced engineers, we emphasise the harmonious integration of people, processes and technology. Our team has a rich history of working across various sectors, from energy and resources to infrastructure and industry. We are trusted by the world's largest miners, oil and gas giants, utility companies and even budding start-ups and believe in the transformative power of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and its role in unlocking valuable data insights. Through IIoT, we aim to facilitate better decision-making, enhance operational activities and promote safer work environments. At Miniotec, our goal is to guide and support, ensuring every digital step is a step forward.