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Hitachi Sustainability

1 March 2022

The Five Foundations of the Road to Net Zero

The five foundations of the road to net zero

The past twelve months have seen us ramp up our commitment to reach net zero. But for us, powering good in the world is far more than a one-year strategy – it lies right at the heart of everything we do and is rooted in our original 1910 company mission to “contribute to society through the development of superior, original technology and products”.

2022 promises to be another critical year and we recently caught up with leaders from our Rail and Energy teams, two of the engine rooms of our climate change ambitions. Here are five key principles they believe will turbo-charge the next stage of the journey:

Power fit for the future

Central to every conversation about reaching net zero, whether it be manufacturing, transportation or how we’ll keep the lights on, is power — how it’s generated, how it’s stored, how it’s delivered to where it’s needed, and how quickly it can get there. Hitachi Rail continues to develop efficient and compact energy storage, while Hitachi Energy is creating more and better energy transmission networks future-proofed with capacity to manage the complexity of our longer-term needs.

A whole-systems approach

The net zero challenge cannot be overcome by tinkering at the edges. Hitachi’s approach is always to look at the whole system. In rail, this means not just electrifying the railways, but improving standards on rolling stock, developing digital technology for signalling systems, and harnessing best-in-class technology to improve the passenger experience. Likewise, Hitachi Energy is working towards a total energy system, improving transmission networks across borders, increasing and improving the generation of renewable energy, and, of course, enhancing energy storage.

Digital solutions for optimum results

To control the holistic and complex systems we need to generate, share, and store energy, digitalisation is key. The power networks of the future will require the aid of machine learning and artificial intelligence to run effectively and efficiently, while digital solutions will also optimise the whole transport system – from smart ticketing and real-time information updates, through to traffic management and signalling.

Partnerships must play their part

In a whole-systems approach, there are no silos: Hitachi Rail collaborates with Hitachi Energy, as well as with the automotive and mobility parts of our business, sharing learning and innovation. But to achieve our global goals we have to collaborate beyond our four walls – so we look to research, governments, and other businesses to form partnerships that can accelerate the road to net zero.

A shift in mindset from top to bottom

The technology to deliver a successful energy transition is already available to us. All we need to succeed is the mindset to put it to work. But if we want to get people onto trains in greater numbers, we need to deliver a seamless, simple and sustainable journey experience which represents a positive alternative to air travel and other forms of transport. We need a good product, and we need governments to promote rail travel. If we deliver this, we will encourage passengers to switch to green public transport options that are sustainable for the long-term.

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