Tag Archives: Sustainability

The real value of energy sustainability


Andreas Sumper. Professor & Researcher. CITCEA UPC

All human activities are associated with the concept of sustainability. This concept is closely related with resources and our use of them; such resources could be natural, human, economic or social, among others. As we need to consume a certain amount of resources to carry out any activity, conflict inevitably arises if we do not replace the resources at the same speed as we consume them. In fact, an imbalance between the use of resources and their regeneration capacity is parallel to the history of humanity itself.

Energy sustainability requires the joint efforts of industry and political leaders, who must establish strategies and polices to bring about the shift needed in the energy system to support sustainable economic and social development. Energy sustainability evaluates how its three intrinsic goals are balanced: energy security, energy equity and environmental sustainability, which is what the World Energy Council (WEC) defines as the Energy Trilemma.

Sustainability, and energy sustainability in particular, has been addressed by industry in recent years as an environmental topic, relating to legislative pressure due to the political initiative of reducing environmental impact. Thus, sustainability is considered an essential framework to manufacture and create traditional products. However, industry is gradually realising that energy saving can increase the competitiveness of industrial processes. However, we need to go beyond this concept: the role of energy in the knowledge society needs to be redefined by sustainability. Digitalisation of operational processes provides a large amount of data and information so that all of those involved in a product’s life cycle can find out about the production processes. This traceability empowers consumers, who are interested in a product that not only meets their needs, but also respects their lifestyles. Thus, it is the individual who has the power to decide which product to purchase and may pay a premium for the product that best fits their philosophy of life. The legislator is no longer an intermediary creating environmental laws for the common good: the consumers themselves will select products that, in addition to meeting minimum standards, have the added bonus of being sustainable. Thus, a new ecosystem is created, with different new services and products that have a greater profit margin. This is what is behind the interest in a circular economy. Therefore, energy sustainability creates new business models, and the energy companies that can adapt to this new framework will be those that will succeed in the market.

Finally, a key factor to achieve energy sustainability will be the use of renewable energy resources that are available locally and then distributed. Electrical energy is an essential vector to achieve a shift to a low-carbon society, as most renewable technologies generate electricity.

Andreas Sumper, Professor & Researcher

Article published in the journal “Automática e Instrumentación” of November-December 2016

Internationalization of innovation

Internationalization and innovation form the two pillars on which the growth of many successful companies is based. Economic globalization is driving all agents in the production system to expand their activity into new areas. Globalization is behind the creation of transnational partnerships, and provides opportunities to exploit competitive advantages in new markets.

Agreements and alliances are indispensable in these processes, and require resources in order to identify partners, negotiate, draw up and implement agreements successfully.

The concept of open innovation, which we mentioned in a previous post, points in the same direction as globalization. This was highlighted by Henry W. Chesbrough in his book of the same title: “Today, in many industries, the logic that supports an internally oriented, centralized approach to R&D has become obsolete. Useful knowledge has become widespread and ideas must be used with alacrity. If not, they will be lost.”

For a multinational or large company operating in global markets, internationalized innovation is part of the work philosophy. But what happens in small and medium-sized companies?

There are ways to help SMEs to access this global reality. One way is through initiatives promoted by agencies such as ACCIÓand by organizations including the ICEX, the CDTI and chambers of commerce like the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce. Opportunities may also arise in more everyday processes such as participation in and attendance of trade fairs in the sector, involvement in trade missions, specialized information in the press, and contacts made through suppliers, distributors and clients.

A few days ago, CIT UPC had the opportunity to take part in an event organized by FEDIT and ICEX on: Spain-Peru Technology Day, “Cooperation for Innovation in energy, sustainability, and recovery and marketing of industrial waste”,which was held in Lima on 2 December. There, we had the opportunity to present some of our technological capabilities to Peruvian companies in the energy, environment, sustainability and climate change sectors. Some of the technological developments and projects we presented were water management and treatment systems, systems for reducing the energy costs of industrial processes and technologies related to acoustics and vibration.

The experience was very positive, as there are real opportunities to collaborate and apply our technological potential in markets that are expanding rapidly. In these markets, local companies need to acquire innovative technologies to meet new demands and challenges associated with growth, as well as to comply with new regulations, address more complex, more expensive demands, and face competition with other companies that have competitive advantages.

For a technology centre like the CIT UPC, the prospect of contributing through innovation to the development of emerging countries such as Peru is a challenge. It involves working with Peruvian companies, universities and technology and research centres. We must join forces and establish permanent links between companies and universities from which everyone benefits.

This is both a challenge and an opportunity. As in the business world, internationalization offers new spaces in which to grow and improve, in which the value of knowledge and knowledge transfer increases dramatically and contributes to spreading the values on which our activity is based: efficiency and sustainability.