This year there is a lot of talk about the future, particularly when we talk about climate change. 2050. 2030. All key years. But the most important time is now.
Because 2021 is our moment to embrace the digital transformation that can turbo-charge the transition to a cleaner, greener planet.
So, let's talk about today.
Today, we are proud to be a Principal Partner for COP26, the International Climate Change Summit taking place in Glasgow this November. Through the partnership, we will champion decarbonisation and support the UK Government, which holds the COP26 Presidency. Our aim is to help achieve a society that is low carbon, resource efficient and harmonised with nature. To achieve this, we are actively orienting our business towards the sustainable technology of the future. We see IT, Smart Energy, Industry and Mobility as having a major role to play in decarbonisation and believe we can use our experience in a number of industries and our expertise in digital innovation, to help power governments, cities and businesses reduce their environmental impact.
Today, we are part of the UN’s Race to Zero campaign through the Business Ambition for 1.5°C, committing to aligning its business with the most ambitious aim of the Paris Agreement – to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
Today, we have our first ever Chief Environmental Officer Alistair Dormer in place to represent our commitment at the top table of the Hitachi business. Alistair formerly headed up our Rail Business and, more recently, our overall Mobility Division, so, given the role Transportation can play in the future of low carbon mobility, he is well placed to help us drive forward this change.
Aiming for carbon neutrality
Today, we have several long-term environmental targets, including the achievement of carbon neutrality at all of our factories and offices by the fiscal year 2030 and an 80% reduction in CO₂ emissions across our value chain by 2050. And we’re committed to supporting our clients achieve their own environmental ambitions.
But we must do more. We are proud to have taken a socially responsible approach to business since we were founded in 1910. But what can we offer today? The answer to that is experience and expertise. Experience in the key sectors that need to lead the way to decarbonisation, namely, Power, Transportation and Industry. And expertise in digital innovation, the technology that is driving us ever closer to our targets. It is this combination that can propel us forward as a climate change innovator empowering cities, governments and companies to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.
But no matter how determined our efforts, we simply cannot do this on our own – our partners, our suppliers and our customers all have a crucial role to play, and we want to work with them to use digitisation to help them address the challenges they face.
Quite simply, digital innovation is the key to a successful energy transition. Without it, we have no chance. So, we must put digital right at the heart of our approach. Let’s explore this in more detail.
Multiple studies show that the demand for electricity will double by 2050. Our view is that electricity is the backbone of the entire energy system and intrinsically linked to mobility systems. Through the acquisition of Hitachi ABB Power Grids last year, we are at the forefront of the challenge to electrify. With our carbon free mobility solutions, we believe we are well positioned to take advantage of this environmentally friendly sustainable growth market. This is where our co-creation approach with customers and partners really comes to life.
Optimise Prime, the world’s largest commercial electric vehicle trial, will inform the UK government on how best to develop its EV infrastructure.
A good example is our Optimise Prime project – the world’s largest commercial electric vehicle trial to date – where we are collaborating with Royal Mail, Uber, UK Power Networks, Centrica and Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks in a three-year trial that will inform the UK government on how best to develop its EV infrastructure. According to UK Power Networks, accelerating the adoption of commercial EVs will cut CO₂ emissions by up to 2.7 million tons by 2030 and reduce the load on the UK power network by 1.9GW, equivalent to powering about 1 million homes.
There is no doubt that the electrification of our entire transport system is a challenge and an opportunity in equal measure – and the only way we are going to get there is through digital innovation.
Transportation is responsible for 20% of the world’s CO₂ emissions
Transportation plays a fundamental role in the development of every community, city and country, as better connectivity allows people to enjoy wider opportunities and benefits. But it is also responsible for 20% of the world’s CO₂ emissions. From rail and buses to electric vehicles (EVs), our heritage as an IT/systems company means we have the expertise and skill to combine transport modes with digital technologies, revolutionising the way we move. Through this, we can make mobility smarter, more efficient and ultimately greener – helping the sector to decarbonise in line with global commitments.
If we are to succeed in the challenge ahead, then all modes of transport need to become more sustainable, with green alternatives widely available. But to make this happen we must put the right incentives in place to drive the transition for operators – and for consumers.
Rail and bus transportation currently only represents about 20% of the UK’s passenger transportation, but we believe it has exponential potential for growth. For example, a typical train line can carry 50,000 people per hour, versus a motorway/freeway lane carrying 2,500 per hour. Hitachi already has a significant rail business, with our trains moving people in more than 20 countries globally. With its technological solutions and systems, rail contributes greatly to long term sustainability: constantly reducing CO₂ emissions, energy and raw materials consumption, but also improving the mobility experience, and in turn, people’s quality of life.
In Italy we are busy delivering 43 hybrid trains to replace old diesel trains, and at the end of last year we unveiled our zero-emission battery tram in Florence. Battery trams will help to reduce the visual impact on urban streets and cut down the cost of electrified infrastructure, which is usually required in the case of traditional tram lines. Apart from the clear environmental benefit, the journey experience is improved too as the interior layouts of the trams are reconfigurable to meet all customer requirements in terms of capacity, comfort and mode of service.
In Scotland we have cut carbon emissions by over 10,000 tonnes by introducing our Hitachi Rail 100 per cent electric commuter trains between Edinburgh and Glasgow. That is the equivalent of taking more than 2,000 cars off the road every year or planting 5 million trees across the fleet’s expected 30-year lifetime. Our award-winning Class 385 fleet has gradually replaced the old diesel fleets and delivered more reliability, speed and capacity than the trains they replaced. And we’re working on extending zero-emission rail travel beyond electrified wires by introducing a battery version of the Class 385.
In the UK bus market, there are around 32,000 buses – they simply must become better for the planet and electrification has an important role to play. We know that battery-powered buses record up to 70 percent lower GHG emissions than their fossil-fuel counterparts, so this is an opportunity which cannot be missed. And it’s why we are currently working to develop an offering which would help bus fleet operators embrace the electrification process and directly support the UK government’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution.
Beyond Transportation, our digital solutions are also powering a new wave of smart manufacturing and helping businesses to optimise their operations, simplify processes and accelerate their competitiveness. Our expertise in this field is empowering companies to visualise the use of renewable energy and drive efficiencies by identifying potential problems before they happen.
Lumada has an important role to pay as well. It will ultimately help our partners be more efficient and effective in how they manage energy infrastructure, natural resources and manufacturing production facilities, and other critical assets and infrastructure.
But back to today. The decisions we make now will shape our future – for better or for worse. Of course, there are significant commercial opportunities at stake here, but the social impact is paramount. As the world enters Covid recovery mode and we look to Build Back Better, we’re at a crucial tipping point with climate change and we need to make sure that, together with our partners, suppliers and customers, we are playing a leading role in protecting the environment through our digital solutions and services.