The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report was released earlier this month and tackled the "Mitigation of Climate Change," including progress and pledges made, and developments that can work towards emission reduction and other mitigation efforts.
"Digital technologies can contribute to mitigation of climate change and the achievement of several SDGs (high confidence). For example, sensors, Internet of Things, robotics, and artificial intelligence can improve energy management in all sectors, increase energy efficiency, and promote the adoption of many low-emission technologies [...]" (AR6-WGIII, Summary for Policymakers, pg. 13)
What the IPCC report suggests about digitalization
Chapter 16 of the 17-chapter report looked at innovation, technology development, and transfer in depth. While the authors agree that digital solutions can greatly improve efficiencies in the management of processes, thereby reducing overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in various sectors, the report also acknowledges that digital devices require a lot of energy to work.
"An area where sustainable development, climate change mitigation, and technological change interact is digitalisation. Digital technologies can promote large increases in energy efficiency through coordination and an economic shift to services, but they can also greatly increase energy demand because of the energy used in digital devices." (AR6-WGIII, Chapter 16, pg. 6)
A greater understanding of the tradeoffs in total potential GHG emissions saved by adopting digital technology still needs to be explored. However, it's increasingly clear that digital solutions will play a part in decarbonizing many sectors, including water management.
Accelerating the water sector's digital transformation
To date, the water treatment space has been largely underserved by digital technology, as our CEO explains in this recent BNN Bloomberg interview.
“If you look at the whole water sector, it’s primarily been underserved by digital. Tools are still a lot of pen and paper, and a lot of the decisions being made are through operational experience, while operators are usually fire-fighting every day.
What we’re doing [...] is we’re bringing in a digital twin - that’s an application of AI that simulates the plant in real time. So it can look at multiple scenarios and then actually recommend to the operations team how they should run the plant to optimize for energy consumption, helping them push the costs and energy down more than it ever has before.” -Devesh Bharadwaj, Pani CEO
Takeaways from Singapore International Water Week (SIWW)
The need for digital twin technology in the water sector was reiterated during Singapore International Water Week. The annual conference was held in person again this year from April 17th through 21st, and is available on-demand until May 31st. Our CEO and Head of Business Development & Partnerships were excited to attend the 2022 edition of SIWW, presenting the Pani platform as a digital solution for facilities that perform water and wastewater treatment processes.
The conference's sessions covered topics such as mitigating climate impacts by transitioning to a low-carbon sustainable future, adapting to climate impacts by building resilience against extreme weather events and sea level rise, as well as strengthening water security against dry weather events, and overall global water megatrends to prepare the water sector for 2030 and beyond. Visualizations of the four plenaries were captured in whiteboard art (credit to SWAN Forum for sharing them on Twitter).
Our key takeaways from SIWW were that:
the water industry's utilities, service providers, and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are aligning efforts to meet net-zero targets.
energy optimization and reductions in total cost of ownership (TCO), as well as retaining the knowledge of a retiring workforce, are key focuses in water treatment.
it's clear that digital will play a big role in meeting Sustainable Development Goals and decarbonizing water.
there is still work to be done for the market to understand highest returns on investment and early fits of digital twins in their operations.
We built Pani to specifically serve the desalination, industrial, and municipal water sectors in an effort to address the digital gap that's existed. We believe that, by adopting digital solutions sooner rather than later, facilities can start to improve efficiency today, using less energy in their processes, and reducing their overall operational costs, risks, and carbon footprint.