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To achieve zero carbon, we need all the technology we can get

Businesses face a number of obstacles to faster decarbonisation. David Holmes, Chief Technology Officer Energy at Dell Technologies, tells us that help is on the way in the form of policy change in the US and continued investment in energy infrastructure.

Leading sustainable businesses know there is no silver-bullet technology that will help them reach net zero, so they are exploring and implementing a broad range of technologies. But not everyone is embracing new technologies in the same way — partly because they do not know which to invest in.

As part of our new report, Why wait to pursue net zero? Build a sustainable business model now, we spoke to David Holmes, Chief Technology Officer Energy at Dell Technologies, to find out about new trends in technology in the energy transition and the challenges faced by companies as they decide how to go green.

What are the greatest obstacles for companies wanting to decarbonise their operations?

And how can they overcome them? For many, it’s a matter of not knowing where to start. Companies recognise that climate and sustainability are not about making investments in order to tick the green box. For many companies, it’s about identifying where they can improve on sustainability and improve business performance at the same time. Smaller businesses can find this challenging, but I would encourage all of them to look at the opportunities. A good place to start is by exploring cost saving projects. Reducing consumption of resources is highly likely to reduce costs.

As companies set out their net zero goals, the very best will already have a plan which outlines specifically how they will get there. These commitments need to be science based, approved by organisations such as the Science Based Targets initiative, and supported by a clear plan of action.

What are the areas that require urgent investment to bring us closer to a net zero economy?

Not all net zero goals, or company carbon footprints, are created equal. There is no one technology that is going to solve the problem. Net zero requires an enormously complex and diverse set of solutions. But it is not a choice between technologies – we need everything and more if we are going to be successful on this journey. Industrial IoT, smart cities, building management systems, the use of carbon capture systems — all are needed. But the infrastructure needs to be developed in parallel with our ambitions.

There are some technology themes that are urgent. For example, demand-response systems that enable us to schedule the use of energy are incredibly important. The amount of data and information generated by a decentralised system is going to create an information technology problem that is much more complex than anything we have had to address before.

How is the new US administration influencing the climate agenda for businesses?

The climate and sustainability agenda has transformed with the new US administration. By establishing climate as a key priority, the Biden administration is sending clear signals that everyone needs to take actions to make measurable change today, for tomorrow. The US might only be one country, but it has an enormous impact on the broader global outlook. With climate and sustainability now part of the administration's agenda companies can push these initiatives forward. For example, the new regulatory environment is very supportive of the use and deployment of virtual power purchasing agreements. They are a useful tool for companies that want to generate carbon credits and for producers of renewable energy that need to de-risk capital intensive projects.

Finally, how can company culture have an impact on sustainability targets?

The only way you can perform effectively as a business in this changing environment is through establishing an organisational culture that prioritises climate and sustainability.

Let’s use health and safety as an example, following some major incidents in the oil and gas industry in the 1980s, health and safety became a fundamental cultural asset across organisations: it was everybody's responsibility, and everybody cared about it.

We see climate and sustainability in the same way. We know it matters to our team members, customers, partners and the communities in which we do business. It’s why our company has set aggressive goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions over the next decade and reach net zero by 2050. We see it as an enormous opportunity to grow the business, attract new team members and positively impact the bottom line.

And the good news is there is a lot of knowledge that companies do not see as competitive intellectual property that they will share for the greater advancement of our shared climate and sustainability goals. That is not just morally and ethically the right thing to do — it is good for business, and it is good for shareholders and stakeholders too.

To find out more about how sustainable business leaders are balancing the demands of planet and profit, download our new report: Why wait to pursue net zero? Build a sustainable business model now.

For more about Dell Technologies see https://www.dell.com/en-us/dt/industry/energy/index.htm

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