Eight guidelines for restarting the economy in the name of sustainability
30 July 2020
Nidec ASI, the commercial platform of the Nidec Group, has decided to elaborate some guidelines for a green restart inspired by concepts of sustainability and circular economy which focus on the transformation towards an “All Electric” world.
It is a responsibility that the globally present multinational has been particularly aware of throughout this delicate and challenging period which has created an important sense of community.
Each of the eight guidelines focuses on a different aspect: renewables, energy efficiency, logistics, mobility, circular economy, digital, young people and health. They represent Nidec ASI's desire to inform everyone on how the Group is evolving (also by strengthening its R&D) and what principles and areas it is working on in order to contribute to an evolution which can no longer be delayed, creating awareness among institutions, businesses and citizens alike on the need to take climate change very seriously and restart in the wake of this crisis by acting decisively as true enablers of a green and digital future.
"As Nidec ASI, we firmly believe that by supporting the evolution of energy, logistics and industry, it really is possible to make a difference and we are developing solutions that can reduce energy consumption by building on renewables, the sustainable movement of people and goods and on promoting greater energy efficiency, not only in the industrial sector, but also in every aspect of our lives," said Dominique Llonch, CEO of Nidec ASI and Chairman of Nidec Industrial Solutions.
"The future will be electric; this is the only key for promoting a model of sustainable development. Institutions must allow this change to happen in the shortest possible time while companies currently operating in the industrial solutions market must make the technologies they produce accessible to all. An offer of quality and affordable green technologies which are also sustainable must represent the main and moral objective of the players operating in the market, and as always, we want to do our part, continuing to develop technologies such as Power Quality, at the centre of hydrogen production, and BESS, which are essential for optimising the use of renewables and represent the excellences of our Italian production facilities."
Today the Energy & Utilities sector is undergoing a radical transformation which is impacting every phase of the value chain. Upstream of the value chain, we are witnessing the progressive transition from a centralised system to a much more distributed, interactive and interconnected ecosystem for the production of electricity from renewable sources. The transition towards renewable energies is, in fact, the most effective way to combat climate change and air pollution and, rightly so, the European Recovery Plan envisages investments to support growth of the clean energy sector. It is therefore more necessary than ever to move away from a fossil fuel economy towards an electric economy and an "All Electric" world.
Italy, a land of sun, water and wind, is starting out from an environmentally advantageous position, consequently it is desirable that institutions work with the aim of facilitating this essential change, allocating funds to the development of renewables.
Nidec ASI has understood the needs arising from the transition towards renewable energy sources, offering solutions that enable optimum usage, such as: BESS (Battery Energy Storage Systems), a sector in which the Group is a leader with more than 70 projects worldwide and over 700MWh of systems installed, microgrids, important innovations in the field of LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) extraction and the development of the hydrogen market. Nidec technology is also present in two of the three most important nuclear fusion research centres.
2) Improving energy efficiency
A reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, but above all improved electricity consumption efficiency, must apply in every socio-economic context.
Our homes and public buildings can represent a good starting point, as highlighted by the European Recovery Plan. The adoption of innovative technologies, new low energy impact home appliances, heat pumps and photovoltaic panels that make it possible to zero energy needs, together with the renovation of buildings with the aim of achieving net-zero energy, represent the simplest and most effective solutions in this race against climate change.
Nidec Group supports the decision of the European Council, included in the latest Recovery Plan, to move in this direction, setting up over 20 research laboratories dedicated to studying how to optimise the efficiency of electric motors and drives.
In addition to houses, however, it is also essential to focus on the energy efficiency of industry, especially heavy industry. The goal, which Nidec ASI has also adopted as its own, is therefore to transform these plants to make them more efficient.
3) Diversified and digital logistics
The COVID-19 emergency uncovered several weak points in logistics leading to considerations useful for rethinking the approach towards a more agile, flexible, green and sustainable supply chain. In the future, those businesses which adopt enlightened procurement policies and logistics, relying on diversified zero-kilometer suppliers, located in different countries, and not only those able to offer the lowest price, will find themselves with a huge competitive advantage also in times of emergency situations.
It is precisely with a view to diversifying the supply chain that the European Union will implement the Trade Policy Review, to ensure a continuous flow of goods and services. In this scenario, Nidec ASI already has a head start, given that the Group's flagships are still the Italian factories.
Consequently, it becomes evident that it is essential for those players operating in logistics to rethink their way of seeing things, activating leaner decision-making processes, accelerating the digital transformation by making use of IoT (Internet of Things) solutions, thus strengthening the entire supply chain. Another important aspect in this transformation concerns accelerating port automation which, thanks to digitalisation, will be able to significantly reduce emissions.
Connected, fast and streamlined logistics will increase the efficiency of moving vehicles, goods and even people, and will make it possible to reduce energy consumption and, consequently, also the environmental impact.
4) Electric mobility
The world of mobility, increasingly strategic for the development of all economic sectors, especially those related to the digital economy, will become 100% electric: ports, ships, cars, trains and public transport will all be connected and powered through the electricity grid.
Promoting this transformation is fundamental, partly because this is the sector where it is most necessary to reduce CO2 emissions and where the objectives set by the authorities are highest and partly to guarantee a green restart of tourism, of primary importance above all in a country like Italy, where this sector accounts for 13% of the national GDP and employs 15%-20% of the Italian workforce, thus confirming its strategic nature for relaunching the country.
Also in this case, the European Recovery Plan traces out the direction to be followed, focusing on the need to support the development of electric transport, the relative recharging infrastructure and alternative fuels.
Electric vehicles will become increasingly more popular, as they represent the most efficient option to eliminate emissions. This process has been going on for years, but it must also be supported through the allocation of ad hoc funds for the widespread diffusion of recharging points and upgrading of the electricity grid to ensure that during times of peak demand sudden drops in voltage are avoided that could cause blackouts in the cities and also to meet car sharing needs which will become more and more common.
Nidec is at the forefront of this sector, thanks to its Ultra Fast Charger for electric vehicles. The Group also contributes to the development of hybrid and electric buses connected via cable and wheels by making use of its knowledge of the battery market.
Maritime transport, which also contributes heavily to the emission of pollutants harmful to the air, will also have to undergo a radical green transformation. Nidec ASI was among the first players in the world to promote the adoption of solutions for electric navigation, starting with the electrification of port docks, which allow ships to turn off their engines and hook up to the electricity grid. It is in fact currently involved in a "shore-to-ship" project for the port of Genoa as well as in eight other similar projects around Europe. The Group also offers solutions for on-board energy storage systems, such as those installed on the Seasight ferries which today navigate Norwegian waters without producing any type of pollution or noise.
5) Circular economy
A further essential pillar for an industrial restart from a green perspective follows the principles of the circular economy, an area into which huge European investments will be channeled, as envisaged by the new Circular Economy Action Plan, with particular reference to the development of infrastructures and technologies capable of optimising waste management.
The world in which we find ourselves has increasingly scarcer resources, hence the need for effective recycling and the activation of a virtuous circle is emerging that makes it possible to minimise waste and the use of raw materials.
Nidec ASI, which invests 3% of its turnover in power electronics alone, is committed, with its research activities, to dealing with these principles, reducing the number of components in the field. A virtuous example is its VDF AFE, a new variable frequency medium voltage drive. By eliminating the transformer, it guarantees extremely high energy efficiency, it is 30% more compact and about 60% lighter than other solutions, reducing not only energy consumption and emissions but also the use of difficult to dispose of metals such as copper and iron. A particularly innovative product is also the CAplus, a new electric motor characterized by the fact that over 95% of the materials used in its construction can be recycled at the end of its service life.
6) Digital transformation
The electric and green transformation of logistics, transport and industry goes hand in hand with digital transformation, where connectivity is able to bring enormous benefits not only with a view to more sustainable development, but also in terms of quality of the services offered, safety and competitiveness of the relative industries.
In the future, for example, ports will be increasingly integrated and connected thanks to the Internet of Things, based on the extensive use of sensors, and the evolution of big data, which will make it possible to optimise the collection and analysis of the data produced, improving the traceability of goods, staff safety and sustainability.
Even the evolution of steel works is undergoing integration with new technologies, primarily Wi-Fi, up to a prospective vision of creating a "Steel Industry 4.0", experiments into which are already in progress. Nidec ASI's automation and system integration solutions are developed and implemented to successfully complete revamping projects, even very complex ones, with the aim of making advanced solutions, such as wireless technologies 'talk' to older technologies.
As rightly envisaged by the European Recovery Plan, investing in the process of digitalisation of Italy and Europe in general (which has accelerated during this period of crisis) is therefore a priority in order to be able to bring about a real transformation in the direction of dematerialisation and therefore a reduction in emissions, with consequent benefits everywhere. However, all of this requires, first and foremost, substantial investments in telecommunication networks and innovative technologies (AI, robotics, cybersecurity, data cloud infrastructure, blockchain), adequate partners and incentives, a reduction in red tape and an effective education process.
7) Engagement with young people
In the race towards a sustainable economy, it will be essential to guarantee a future for young people and engage them, given that they are increasingly more attentive to green issues.
Companies and institutions must therefore target the main issues concerning sustainability at the new generations who can become the main testimonials of the urgency for a green restart.
Also in the industrial solutions sector, it will be essential to continue to attract and retain young talents who will be able to develop the sustainable innovations of the future, increasing funding for internships, also extending the time spent in companies and supporting the insurance/additional costs caused by the new safety standards, as well as investing in advanced welfare programs capable of ensuring a good work-life balance and a satisfactory training path.
With the aim of initiating a constructive dialog with young people on these issues, the idea was born to launch Nidec ASI's new social communication campaign, I WANT A GREEN FUTURE on a worldwide level, which aims to awaken everyone's consciences, starting with young people, raising awareness on the values of environmental sustainability.
The spread of the coronavirus throughout the world has highlighted the undeniable link and interconnection between all human beings on the planet, uncovering enormous economic imbalances that persist in different parts of the globe.
In this scenario, it is increasingly more evident how a company cannot grow and thrive in an unhealthy environment where safeguarding health is not a priority. Institutions must therefore allocate huge investments to protecting people's health.
A concrete demonstration of how the focus on people's health is crucial is given by the path Nidec has taken, also with the recent announcement of the "Nidec Health Declaration", aimed at strengthening and focusing even more on the management of employee wellbeing, and the establishment, by the Nidec Group, of a Health Promotion Committee. The Group also boasts an employee welfare program, which offers wellbeing benefits.
Nidec ASI is also committed to continuously minimising the impact of its activities on the environment and society by adopting a vision of the future that is also "collective", and therefore takes the community into huge consideration. Recognising that we are part of the ecosystem which surrounds us and understanding that our actions can have an impact on the territory where we operate is the duty of each one of us.
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