Asia pivotal to the net-zero industrial revolution: Envision CEO

Envision, fresh off inking a deal with Spain to build Europe’s first net-zero industrial park, plans to build 100 of such parks around the world - including in Asia - in the next 10 years

Michelle Quah
Published Mon, Aug 15, 2022 · 05:50 AM

ASIA, where the industrial sector accounts for over 35 per cent of the region’s annual carbon-dioxide emissions, will be pivotal to the net-zero industrial revolution, says Chinese green technology business Envision Group. Transforming the region’s industrial parks into net-zero ones will play a vital role, it adds.

Envision’s chief executive officer (CEO), Lei Zhang, says that transforming Asia’s industrial parks into net-zero ones will enable Asia – and its industries and companies – to achieve the emissions reduction and green technology development they need, helping the world attain its goal of reaching net-zero emissions.

Zhang was speaking to The Business Times, fresh off Envision Group’s signing of an agreement with the government of Spain to build Europe’s first net-zero industrial park. Indicating that the group isn’t content to stop there, he says that it has set itself a “very ambitious but achievable” goal of building 100 of such parks around the world – Asia, included – over the next decade, with the aim of reducing global carbon emissions by 1 billion tons per year.

“The agreement that was signed with the government of Spain is critical not just for Spain, but also for Europe. With the European Union (EU) targeting carbon neutrality by 2050, this partnership is highly significant in securing a firm commitment to make the changes required to reach net-zero,” he says.

The agreement with Spain will cover a range of collaborations over 5 years; the first phase, for example, will include a gigafactory for batteries for electric vehicles, a centre for development and innovation in the digitalisation of renewable energy systems, a green hydrogen generation plant for the manufacture of electrolysers, and a wind power generation and smart wind turbine assembly plant.

“With the industrial sector serving as one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions globally, solutions to reduce industrial emissions are vital. As manufacturing activities grow, industrial ecosystems in Europe and globally are poised for sustainable development across the value chain. To this end, net-zero industrial parks will play a key role in unlocking the potential of renewable energy through a holistic approach of combining energy, e-mobility, and digital solutions,” Zhang says. 

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He believes this will provide the impetus for more of such efforts around the world. “With the industrial sector accounting for over 35 per cent of the region’s annual carbon dioxide emissions, Asia will be pivotal to the net-zero industrial revolution. Transforming industrial parks to become net-zero will play a vital role in enabling the region, industries, and companies to achieve the emissions reduction and green technology development they need.”

He adds that Envision is already building a net-zero industrial park in Ordos (in Inner Mongolia), China, which will feature a comprehensive clean energy solution, powered by the latest wind, solar and hydrogen power technologies. The park is expected to create US$15 billion in industrial output value and create tens of thousands of green jobs, while reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 100 million tonnes per year.

“Given that each country has different needs, the solutions and approaches within a net-zero industrial park must be highly tailored, accounting for various factors. These can include a country’s share of renewable energy, land size, digital capabilities, amount of manpower, and others. Looking at specific markets, I believe countries in Asia like Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Japan hold vast potential in developing net-zero industrial parks and spurring the green economy in Asia, due to favourable factors such as rapid digital transformation and a growing renewable energy market.

“When you look at Singapore, it is a small country with scarce resources. And yet, when there is a will, there is a way. Private-public partnerships here have resulted in several ‘firsts’ for the country to progress and bring its net-zero timeline forward.  Floating solar panels and energy storage system are just a few examples. Singapore’s strategic geographical location, coupled with strong partnerships, will therefore make it a prime market for further sustainable development and green industrial revolution,” Zhang says.

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