The Engineer asked a diverse group of industry spokespeople what sustainability means to them. Here’s what they said…
SHE governance and sustainability manager BAE Systems Surface Ships
As a shipbuilder and support services provider, the main area of concern is the depletion of natural resources such as gas, water and electricity, which we rely on to carry out our operations.
As a business, we operate a number of energy-saving initiatives and are continually looking for ways to enhance our sustainability. This includes upgrading our building management system to give greater control of utility usage, the use of PIR motion sensors to control lighting and air-conditioning circuits, and the installation of new technology lighting (LED or energy-efficient fluorescent lights) to reduce consumption.
We also look at new ways to save energy or generate clean energy and how these can be implemented into our business, and have recently installed a 1.5kW swift wind turbine at our Scotstoun site to pilot the provision of lighting from a green renewable source. We are also investing in telemetric metering to identify where we are generating waste, enabling us to monitor it and take appropriate action to reduce our overall carbon footprint.
We are committed to incorporating sustainability into the platforms and services that we deliver to our customers. Delivering more efficient platform performance is an integral part of our ship repair and upgrade programmes, with a particular focus on enhancing fuel efficiency. During the recent refit of HMS Edinburgh, the ship’s hull was coated with a new underwater paint and a spoiler, known as a transom flap, was fitted to the stern, which will deliver greater operational efficiency and reduced fuel consumption. We will also apply the same paint to the Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigate HMS Lancaster.
Type 45 is the first front-line warship in the world to be powered by a fully integrated electric propulsion system, with the ability to power both propulsion and hotel loads off a single gas turbine. This system offers benefits including reduced fuel consumption (thanks to its fuel-efficient WR21 gas turbines), reduced maintenance and associated through-life costs. The Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers will also use an electric propulsion system, again allowing it to operate more efficiently.
Division manager – discrete automation and motion, UK and Ireland ABB
As a leading vendor of electrical supply and automation equipment, one of ABB’s major contributions to sustainability is helping its customers achieve greater efficiency in the use of energy. We do this by providing variable-speed drives and high-efficiency motors that can dramatically cut wasted energy in a large number of applications across industries as diverse as food and beverage, oil and gas production and paper manufacture, through to building services.
Since 2006, ABB has followed a programme to reduce energy consumption in its own operations and energy efficiency is a key element of our sustainability objectives for 2010 and 2011. The target was set to reduce the energy intensity at our manufacturing and non-manufacturing sites by 2.5 per cent annually for 2010 and 2011. We’re focusing on our 23 most energy-intensive sites.
Sustainability considerations cover how we design and manufacture products, what we offer customers, how we engage suppliers, how we assess risks and opportunities, and how we behave in the communities where we operate.
In a recent year, the installed base of ABB drives saved about 190TWh, equivalent to the electricity consumption of more than 42 million households in the European Union. If that 190TWh had been generated by fossil-fuel-powered electricity plants, ABB drives reduced CO2 emissions by about 140 million tons, corresponding to the yearly emission of more than 35 million cars. Other products, such as our disconnecting circuit breaker, can cut CO2 emissions by more than 200 tons over the product’s lifetime instead of separate conventional technologies in substations.
Helping customers improve their operating performance while saving energy and lowering their environmental impact is an integral part of our mission statement. As such, promoting sustainable operations is a major part of our business and we continue to win projects with customers because they know that the solutions and services we offer can help them save energy and cut environmental risks.
Head of environment, Drax Power
At its simplest level, operating our business and generating electricity in a sustainable way ’futureproofs’ our business and contributes to the wider sustainability ambitions of UK plc.
The UK has set itself tough targets to reduce overall CO2 emissions by 2020 and even tougher targets by 2050. In order to meet these targets decarbonisation of the electricity sector is on the agenda and the amount of electricity generated from renewable technologies needs to rise from around seven per cent now to around 30 per cent by 2020.
As the biggest single producer of electricity in the country, Drax has a major role to play in achieving these goals. We’re doing this in two ways. First, a £100m upgrade to our turbines, which will make them more efficient, and second by generating electricity from renewable and sustainable biomass. In 2010, through co-firing biomass with coal, Drax Power Station produced twice as much renewable power as the next largest renewable generating facility in the UK.
“Energy efficiency is a key element of ABB’s sustainability objectives for 2010 and 2011”
Sustainability is critical to the future of our business. Unabated coal power stations simply will not exist in the decades to come. Use of biomass is not the only way to achieve carbon reduction at fossil-fuelled plant; carbon capture and storage is an alternative. But generating electricity from biomass is proven and can make a difference in the here and now.
There are plenty of other opportunities presented by being more sustainable. One of Drax’s major waste products is ash. By investing in new rail loading and handling facilities we are able to sell two-thirds of that ash to the building trade. This saves on landfill tax and we are able to monetise a product hitherto classed as waste. Better still, the ash replaces virgin aggregates and fillers (as well as cement), which would otherwise have to be dug out of the ground.
The main limitation on progress has not been a lack of regulatory support. Put simply, it is cheaper to burn coal than biomass and so biomass needs a greater level of support. Biomass is one of the most cost-effective renewable technologies and we believe that the country’s renewables and carbon reduction targets should be met in the least cost way that is, least cost to the consumer. The government is reviewing the structure and support levels for all renewable technologies, which we trust will place emphasis on cost effectiveness.
Head of sustainability , Siemens, UK and northwest Europe
Like all businesses in our industry, to be successful in the long term we need to act responsibly on behalf of future generations to ensure economic, environmental and social progress.
As an integrated technology company, we’re seizing unparalleled opportunities to promote the sustainable development of our customers and our own organisation.
One prime example of our success is our environmental portfolio, which has already made us the world’s leading provider of eco-friendly technologies. Built on our unrivalled expertise in green solutions, the portfolio showcases how we are fulfilling our commitment to sustainable development.
In addition to this, we promote a ’best practice’ approach to end users across all sectors of industry and commerce. We provide expert consulting for all aspects of energy, cost and carbon reduction. Taking a holistic approach typically enables users to achieve 20-30 per cent reductions in energy and utility costs using cost-effective products and solutions. Typical products include high-efficiency motors, gearboxes and drive systems, low-energy lighting, factory, process and building automation, water technologies and advanced metering solutions (amity).
In fiscal 2010, the portfolio generated revenue of about €28bn (£24.7bn).
These products and solutions helped our customers reduce their CO2 emissions by 270 million tons in 2010. Next year, we intend to further increase the contribution of our environmental portfolio toward reducing customer emissions and have set a goal of at least 300 million tons in 2011. The portfolio’s revenue and CO2 savings for fiscal 2010 will be reviewed by the auditing company Ernst & Young. This review is based on the criteria defined in the greenhouse gas initiative of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the World Resources Institute.
Siemens has both global and national targets for energy reduction as part of our sustainability programme. Key sustainability figures are audited annually. Global figures are audited by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC). All information regarding our environmental portfolio has been checked since 2007 by PwC. In the UK, we received the Carbon Trust Standard in 2010.