Interview: Harpreet Gulati

SVP - Head of PI System Business at AVEVA

AVEVA Supports the Acceleration of the Transition to Widespread Production of Green Hydrogen

March 18, 2024. By Anurima Mondal

The AVEVA Process Simulation has been developed to assist engineers in the early stages of design, allowing them to map out processes and identify ways to ensure both profitability and environmental friendliness, says Harpreet Gulati, SVP - Head of PI System Business, AVEVA in an interview with Anurima Mondal, Associate Editor, Energetica India.

Que: Can you share AVEVA's overarching vision and key commitments regarding environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices?

Ans: In essence, sustainability revolves around achieving more with less and ensuring that we can forge a brighter future that respects our planet's limitations. Harnessing technological solutions is imperative to drive progress towards this better future.

AVEVA is deeply committed to an ambitious sustainability agenda that spans a wide spectrum of initiatives. Our approach is multifaceted, encompassing various aspects of our operations.

Firstly, we place significant emphasis on how we operate as a company and our dedication to modeling environmental and ethical stewardship. This dimension is what we refer to as our ‘operational footprint pillar.’

Moreover, we recognize that our core business, technology, plays a pivotal role in shaping the sustainability landscape. We refer to this as our ‘technology handprint,’ where we actively work to ensure that our solutions empower industries to embrace circular practices, decarbonize, and enhance resilience.

Additionally, because we are a technology business ourselves, we are talent-driven and talent-focused. Our inclusive culture pillar underscores our commitment to fostering an environment where everyone feels welcome and valued. This, in turn, ties back to our technology handprint, as we firmly believe that diversity and inclusion fuel innovation.

To support our customers on their decarbonization journey, we are driven to lead by example. We have established a set of 15 goals to achieve by 2025: we have achieved a 93 percent reduction of emissions in our scope 1 and 2. However, our primary focus is now on our value chain because, as part of our ambition, we aim to decarbonize our entire value chain. We are also working to ensure that our software is designed with green principles in mind and that we measure its energy consumption. To achieve this, we have labs in our R&D centres in India and California. Our customers, especially in the energy sector, are transitioning to future fuels, and we need to ensure that our solutions can support them in that transition. This is a significant focus point for us, and we are constantly working to make sure that our solutions are fit for the energy transition.

Que: AVEVA has successfully reduced scope 1 and 2 emissions by 90 percent. Could you elaborate on the strategies and initiatives that contributed to this achievement?

Ans: We have done a lot to reduce our scope 1 and scope 2 emissions associated with our own operations and the energy we purchase to support our facilities and offices. This 93 percent reduction comes mainly from using 100 percent of renewable energy including natural gas in our buildings, procuring our renewable energy closer to the source, and electrifying our corporate car fleet.

Que: In light of the global push towards a green hydrogen economy, what specific steps is AVEVA taking to accelerate this transition?

Ans: AVEVA supports the acceleration of the transition to widespread production of green hydrogen: we have developed the AVEVA Process Simulation to assist engineers in the early stages of design, allowing them to map out processes and identify ways to ensure both profitability and environmental friendliness. Within our process simulation tool, we have incorporated additional libraries for electrolyzers and renewables. This empowers engineers to plan and optimize green hydrogen facilities, considering factors like weather patterns and the variability associated with wind and solar resources. Fortescue Future Industries are using our digital design and simulation tools in the cloud to monitor the performance of new hydrogen production plants. We are working with leaders such as ThyssenKrupp, Topsoe, Wood and Saudi Aramco to mature and scale innovative technologies and processes and realize clean hydrogen projects across MEA and worldwide.

We believe hackathons are an excellent way to brainstorm and innovate across various topics, with sustainability consistently ranking among the most popular. Last year, our hackathon was involved in addressing the readiness of our solutions for green hydrogen. This initiative resulted in identifying the necessary libraries to integrate with AVEVA Process Simulation, facilitating connections to other data solutions like PI Vision.

Que: From your perspective, how does a commitment to sustainability positively influence business outcomes for AVEVA?

Ans: The World Economic Forum estimates that digital technologies at scale will cut emissions by up to 20 percent by 2050. Digital technologies that support the industrial sector are at the heart of our expertise. Every day, our customers prove that digitalization enables industrial companies to drive measurable carbon reductions, including for traditionally energy-intensive industries. AVEVA wants to support more and more energy companies in developing their saved and avoided CO2 emission baseline and target. It will be good for the plant and good for our business too.

Que: Are there specific examples or success stories where sustainability efforts have directly contributed to enhanced business performance?

Ans: AGL, Australia’s largest energy company is leveraging AVEVA’s technologies as the foundation of its decarbonization strategy. Moving beyond situational awareness to predictive modelling, AVEVA’s tools help AGL redefine collaboration and transparency across its renewable utility network, standardizing performance for 200+ wind turbines, helping translate to USD 18.7M in reduced forced outages and optimized maintenance.

In 2017, a sewage spill infiltrated a Tasmanian nature reserve, causing environmental and economic damage. TasWater, the primary water and sewage utility in the Australian state, was determined to take measures to avoid future disasters. The company manages a high number of assets, including 113 sewage treatment plants and 75 drinking water systems. The company developed a proof of concept (POC) trial in collaboration with AVEVA to explore data and IIoT technology in the water industry. The initial phase involved analyzing data collected from sewage pump stations to predict blockages before they escalated into spills. By integrating the analytics component from TasWater's SCADA system into the AVEVA PI System, project costs were reduced, and data accessibility was enhanced. These data-driven insights have empowered TasWater's scientists and engineers to explore innovative solutions that offer operational, safety, and environmental benefits to Tasmania. These POCs are positioning TasWater as a frontrunner in the water industry, driving it towards a more data-centric and pioneering future.

Que: The World Economic Forum suggests that 20 percent of emissions reductions could come from digital technology. How does AVEVA view the role of digital solutions in driving decarbonization efforts?

Ans: We have identified three roles that digitalization plays in driving decarbonization efforts: first, it is essential to track and measure operational efficiency and agility, but also to drive measurable gains in the field of sustainability. For instance, using machine learning and AI to mandate actions is a way to further cut emissions and optimize processes, and can lead to cutting waste by 20 percent.

Secondly, digitalization is a driver of collaboration, allowing data and insights sharing between governments, industrial leaders, and tech providers to accelerate innovation and bring onstream new sources of energy (CCUs, hydrogen, electrification, bioplastics etc.). And last but not least, digitalization is a driver to develop ‘systems thinking’ solutions that increase the scale and scope of decarbonization.

Que: Can you highlight specific digital initiatives or technologies that have demonstrated a significant impact in reducing carbon emissions?

Ans: AVEVA is working closely with Aker Carbon Capture to mitigate the carbon dioxide emissions of industrial operations and accelerate the transition to net zero. Designing and building facilities for companies in carbon-intensive industries, such as cement, steel, and oil and gas, the group uses AVEVA’s technologies in the cloud to create efficient and replicable designs for carbon capture units, with early reports of increases in operational efficiency and time to market by over 50 percent.

Airbridge, an Australian innovator with a breakthrough technology aspires to make a global impact on the health of our planet at an industrial scale. The company’s technology works towards transforming carbon emissions before they enter the atmosphere and repurpose them into valuable, essential global commodities, such as fertilizers, calcium carbonates and fuel additives, and accelerate towards net-zero. The company, with the support of AVEVA’s Process Simulation solution has implemented a pilot project for Airbridge’s Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) patented technology. AVEVA has created an accurate pilot data-model of Airbridge’s new carbon conversion facility, including a detailed electrolyte thermodynamic feature that enables its team to predict chemical reactions accurately. Airbridge can also simulate the Chemical process cycles to predict CO2 recovery. This CO2 can then be repurposed into high-demand, high-value commoditized products for use in industries such as agriculture, mining, construction, manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals, thus helping accelerate the industrial transition to a net-zero future.

Que: How is AVEVA actively supporting its customers in achieving operational efficiencies and sustainable gains? Can you share some notable examples?

Ans: India’s National Smart Cities Mission initiative highlights India’s advancement and commitment to sustainability, regionally as well as globally. AVEVA, as a digital foundation partner of the Smart Cities Mission, is playing an important role in supporting this initiative.

Fostering innovative, sustainable, and resilient development, Namchi in Sikkim (also known as Namchi Smart City) worked with AVEVA to create an Integrated Cross-city Command Centre (ICCC) and technology platform, which simplified and optimized municipality services. The city augmented and retrofitted existing city infrastructure to conserve energy. By using smart technology to improve the quality of life for its expanding population, the city has cut energy use by 20 percent and plans to support tourism and drive economic growth. The solution is now being replicated in similar smart infrastructure projects throughout India in places such as Kohima Smart City and Pimpri Chinchwad Smart City where it is helping set a new standard in sustainable civic innovation while enhancing the quality of life and wellbeing of its citizens.

Beyond smart infrastructure, Indian power leader Tata Power uses AVEVA’s software to continuously monitor the health and performance of over 300 critical assets. Leveraging our predictive analytics tools, the group is optimizing operational and maintenance improvements, helping mitigate and manage risk with early warning notification of equipment problems.

AVEVA collaborated with Schneider Electric for their Smart Factory Program, at their Smart factory in Batam, Indonesia. Together with Schneider Electric, we co-developed the lean discrete management software that enabled the factory to streamline its operations in the cloud, becoming a World Economic Forum (WEF) Lighthouse, that effectively transformed the global footprint of more than 100 of Schneider Electric’s manufacturing sites to improve product quality, operational efficiency, and customer satisfaction. The Smart Factory network has achieved major sustainability benefits including 21 percent energy savings achieved at some sites and 377 tons of CO2 reduced across the world. AVEVA is working closely with WEF, United Nations Global Compact, BSR, and World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBSCD) to contribute to decarbonization. We are also active with the First Movers Coalition, a global initiative working to decarbonize ‘hard to abate’ industrial sectors, and as part of this initiative, AVEVA has committed to replace at least 5 percent or more jet fuel with sustainable aviation fuels by 2030.

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