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How The Future Of Clean Energy Will Affect Manufacturing In Canada

How The Future Of Clean Energy Will Affect Manufacturing In Canada

Despite their historic reliance on fossil fuels, manufacturers' increasing willingness to embrace clean energy brightens the long-term outlook for the planet.

At first glance, the path to a more sustainable future seems like a pretty straightforward equation: the more manufacturers integrate clean energy into their operations, the brighter the long-term outlook for the planet becomes.

Applying that equation in daily business practices is where it becomes a lot more complicated. After all, the industrial sector has been reliant on fossil fuels for so long that the move to clean energy represents a significant change.

Clean energy is also an area where research and innovation continues at a rapid pace, which means manufacturers have to make the shift while keeping up with the latest developments. That’s on top of all the other day-to-day challenges in producing goods that need to move through a backlogged global supply chain.

This is where it may be helpful to look at the parallels between the advancement of clean energy and the way businesses of all sizes have come to embrace the competitive advantages of information technologies.

Companies may not have faced regulatory or customer pressure to move to cloud computing, for example, but it marked a radical break from the tradition of running all hardware and software on their physical premises. Even as some firms became early adopters of the cloud, it was quickly morphing into variations such as private clouds, public clouds and hybrid clouds.

The most successful organizations learned that in order to figure out how cloud computing would affect them, they needed to get hands-on experience with the technology. This could include small pilot projects, taking part in industry consortia or simply forming partnerships with third parties they could trust.

It will likely be a similar journey for Canadian manufacturers assessing the potential for clean energy. Whether you’re formally leaving this kind of initiative or are simply acting as your company’s de facto chief sustainability officer, there are several sources of insight to consider. In terms of next steps, you should:

Monitor the Canadian government’s Strengthened Climate Plan

The third chapter of the most recent federal budget summarizes the business case for clean energy as follows:

Smart climate investments today are good for Canadian workers, good for the Canadian economy, and good for the planet. With the largest mobilization of global capital since the Industrial Revolution already underway, Canada has the chance to become a leader in the clean energy of the future.

Among other actions, this vision is translating into $8 billion towards the Net Zero Accelerator, which is supporting projects to reduce our domestic greenhouse gas emissions. There have also been millions put into clean energy initiatives located in rural and indigenous communities.

Keeping an eye on the early results of the Strengthened Climate Plan is just one way manufacturers can identify clean energy best practices as they emerge.

Gather intelligence from The Clean Energy Review

You’ll occasionally see stories about how green manufacturing is developing in mainstream media outlets, but organizations like Clean Energy Canada do a great job of curating and compiling news that might otherwise get missed.

In its newsletter The Clean Energy Review, for example, CNC has pointed to a number of encouraging signs that manufacturers could use to inform their own strategies. Peruse just a few of its most recent issues, for instance, and you’ll learn about:

  • A Quebec-based firm’s success in using hydrogen instead of carbon in a key part of the steelmaking process

  • Why Newfoundland and Labrador are lifting a 15-year moratorium on the development of wind power

  • Podcasts worth tuning into such as RBC’s ‘The Climate Conversations’

The newsletter is on top of all the other research and in-depth reports the organization publishes to accelerate sustainability efforts across the country.

Learn from the successes south of the border

There are obvious differences in the size and output of the industrial sector here and in the United States. Don’t be limited by looking at those differences in terms of global competitiveness, however. There are also case studies in clean energy adoption that are well worth trying to duplicate.

Bookmark the website of Manufacturing USA, for example, and you’ll see monthly updates across a network of firms on their shift to renewables. This includes an ongoing analysis of how “microfactories” could change the way resources are used, approaches to “remanufacturing” by maximizing the use of materials in end of life products and more.

Canadian manufacturers will undoubtedly continue to carve their own path in terms of clean energy, but it behooves everyone to pay attention to what’s happening in other parts of the world.

Conduct a ‘current state’ assessment to move towards a greener tomorrow

As you create a dashboard of sorts to synthesize the data and ideas from all these sources, start determining just how far you’ll have to go to achieve net zero. This is defined by removing all greenhouse gas emissions from the human activity involved in manufacturing products.

By automating the process of carbon accounting through platforms like Net Zero Cloud, you’ll immediately be able to set realistic goals around your adoption of clean energy. This can help achieve greater buy-in from all the various stakeholders who need to be consulted or directly involved in green manufacturing strategies.

You can supplement the use of Net Zero Cloud by conducting primary research with your supplier ecosystem and even your customers to gauge expectations one show they hope clean energy will transform the industrial sector. That kind of insight is key to ensuring you’re providing a customer experience that aligns with their values.

Like many other areas of business, the future of clean energy is still being written. The manufacturers that thrive are the ones who will go the extra mile in playing an active part in how it unfolds.

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