Dr. Tariq Aslam, the VP and Head of MEA for AspenTech, says capital-intensive industries need to have a holistic approach and be ready for change
How does technology contribute to sustainability?
The world faces huge challenges from global warming, a rapidly growing population, and raised expectations of affluence. Digital technologies are critical to ensuring industries meet net-zero sustainability targets by the middle of this century. The increasing global demand for energy will accelerate the need for more effective and sustainable ways of delivering this energy to all consumers, for example.
Asset-intensive companies around the world are embracing tools like digital twins, digital simulation, and AI-powered predictive maintenance to optimise assets. These digital tools are key to decarbonisation efforts by identifying efficiencies across an organisation’s operations.
What sort of sustainability efforts does your company practice?
AspenTech plays a vital role, in using digital expertise to advance sustainability technology pathways by reducing energy usage and waste. We support the energy transition through innovative carbon capture solutions, including the use of hydrogen as a new energy source with immense potential. We facilitate co-processing with bio feedstocks in refineries, and through our solutions turbocharge the circular economy.
We have the necessary insight and expertise and many innovative products and solutions that help customers excel while meeting their own specific sustainability goals.
Do we need to look at sustainability beyond the use of “green energy”?
Of course, sustainability is much more than green energy, as important as that is. Sustainability ensures businesses are better equipped to embrace new business models needed to support ambitious pathways, like carbon capture.
Digital solutions enable a business to put new emphasis on the circular economy across manufacturing processes and the complexities of supply chains. This decreases the use of energy and materials in developing products, and at the end of the process, recovers as much of the products as possible both through recycling and reuse. The result is that fewer natural resources are consumed overall.
What challenges do companies face today in their journey toward net zero and how can technology help solve those issues?
By 2050, global demand for energy rockets by 50 percent, meaning electricity generation will need to grow by even more than 75 percent, by some estimates. About 90 percent of that should come from renewable sources. At the same time, the global population is expected to grow by approximately two billion, millions of whom will make up a rapidly growing middle class.
The one way to meet all these challenges within three decades is to use digital technologies to drive up operational performance and to provide the agility, flexibility, and insight that organisations need to make the necessary changes to technologies and processes.
What factors can help companies advance toward their sustainability goals?
Capital-intensive industries need to have a holistic approach and be ready for change. To meet society’s expectations, energy companies, especially, need to accelerate their transition to being digitally led. Digital technologies are fundamental to providing insights that will identify the future of any major industry. All major industries stand on the brink of a new age of AI-driven efficiency and sustainability initiatives, using a breathtaking range of applications.
Using structured and unstructured data from processes, supply chain partners, and third-party organisations, companies can implement technologies such as advanced process control, digital twins, and predictive and prescriptive maintenance. Across multiple sites and complexes, these technologies will increase efficiency significantly, identifying where the priorities are to reduce harmful emissions, waste, or energy use. There is no reason why companies cannot strike the right balance between profitability, excellent working practices, and sustainability targets.