November 23rd 2023

What 3 things should manufacturers prioritise to accelerate their net-zero plans in 2024?

What 3 things should manufacturers prioritise to accelerate their net-zero plans in 2024?

As global net-zero targets loom ever closer, with the interim target of achieving a 43% reduction in emissions by 2030 against 2019 levels now just 6 years away, few sectors are feeling the pressure to decarbonise more so than the energy intensive manufacturing and industrial sector. With the sector accounting for around one-fifth of global carbon emissions, it’s reported that 92% of manufacturers now see net-zero as a priority for their business, with 68% having already invested in decarbonisation measures and a further 22% planning to do so in the next year.

While this collective ambition signals that the sector is making strides in the right direction, there is still a considerable amount of work to do if it is to overcome the current barriers that stand in the way of decarbonisation efforts. So as we near the year end, we’re outlining three key things that manufacturers should be prioritising to accelerate and implement successful net-zero strategies as we head into 2024. 

Invest in digital tools to support net-zero goals

According to Deloitte’s 2024 manufacturing industry outlook, technology is poised to play a significant role in helping manufacturers take on many of the challenges the sector is anticipated to face in 2024, which encompass everything from economic uncertainty, skills shortages, lingering and targeted supply chain disruptions, and new challenges arising from the need to achieve net-zero emissions goals.

Encouragingly, over 70% of manufacturers now report to be utilising technologies such as data analytics and cloud computing within their processes, with almost half already harnessing the power of IoT sensors, devices and systems. Digital twins and 3D modelling have also been identified as being key to helping manufacturers maintain a competitive edge and build a more resilient future. However, current uptake of such technologies within the manufacturing space still remain very much focused upon decarbonising factory processes and supply chains, while failing to take account of the factory buildings themselves – a major contributor to the sector’s overall emissions.

At IES, we advocate for a more holistic approach which leverages data from production processes, alongside the building shell, services and systems within a dynamic digital twin to provide a more complete understanding of the overall energy balance in a factory. Our recent blog on using shared data insights to decarbonise the manufacturing sector provides further insights on this topic, or you can check out our manufacturing sector page for more helpful resources on how best to take an integrated approach to decarbonisation strategies.

Form strategic partnerships

Collaboration has also been identified as a key catalyst to decarbonisation efforts which manufacturers should look to prioritise heading into 2024. According to Deloitte research, manufacturers that are forming external partnerships and joint ventures to meet ambitious emissions goals are often making significant strides in product decarbonisation, and can achieve their goals much faster.

At IES, we can partner with manufacturers directly, or with an existing energy management provider, to uncover significant hidden energy, carbon and cost savings. By working collaboratively, we can help teams integrate and leverage the full capabilities of our digital twin technology within existing processes to help identify operational improvements to increase energy efficiency and lower running costs. Before simulating longer term decarbonisation investments and future scenarios to provide data-driven, engineering grade insights on the optimum net-zero strategies for each unique facility, backed by science and data that can be trusted.

Keep an eye out for relevant funding schemes

Ongoing economic uncertainty and high costs continue to pose challenges for many manufacturers when it comes to implementing decarbonisation strategies. However, investing in decarbonisation measures makes good business sense not only for the planet, but also for the bottom line. Those that prioritise the green credentials of their facilities can expect to see lower operating costs, environmental and financial risk mitigation, and better access to finance for future decarbonisation investments amongst a whole host of other benefits.

The good news is that a range of funding schemes are also emerging to help businesses accelerate their decarbonisation action plans and make the transition more affordable. Today (Thursday, 23rd November), major funding announcements have been made by both the UK Government and EU Commission respectively, including the UK Government response to the recent Industrial Energy Transformation Fund (IETF) Phase 3 consultation, and a new round of funding under the EU Commission’s Innovation Fund which doubles the budget allocated for cleantech manufacturing compared to the previous call. That’s before even mentioning this week’s earlier announcement that the UK government plan to release a further £4.5bn package of grants and loans for British manufacturers from 2025.

In the UK, the IETF is intended to support any investment or study relevant to on-site infrastructures that will enable an energy efficiency or decarbonisation measure, with grant funding offered against the up-front costs associated with conducting a study or deployment project. Today’s announcement confirms that the Phase 3 application window will open in January 2024, with a further and final window scheduled later next summer. The consultation response, which includes further details on the scope and eligibility of the scheme can be read in full here.

Meanwhile, the EU Commission Innovation Fund's 2023 call for proposals opened today and will remain open until 9th April 2024. With a record total budget of €4 billion to support the deployment of innovative decarbonisation technologies, €1.4 billion of which is being made available to strengthen industrial manufacturing capacity, technology leadership, and supply chain resilience in Europe, it is worth checking out. Innovation Fund regular grants can be combined with funding from other support programmes, such as Horizon Europe, which currently has a number of relevant funding calls open through into early 2024 and with which IES has considerable experience through our R&D division. Further information can be found here.

IES are ideally positioned to support manufacturers with decarbonisation feasibility and monitoring and verification (M&V) studies under these and other eligible funding schemes. However, our experience is that such funds can be allocated quickly, meaning businesses need to be prepared to be quick off the mark with a strong application to have a chance of being successful. With 29 years of experience and over 1.5 million buildings modelled, our expertise in building performance and energy modelling can help whether you have secured funding, or are looking to develop a robust funding application ahead of deadlines. While our innovative digital twin technology provides the data you can trust to make intelligent decisions.

On Demand Webinar: Getting your Decarbonisation Strategy on Track - Prepare for IETF Phase 3

Interested to learn more? On Tuesday 28th November, IES hosted a free session in partnership with the Food & Drink Federation (FDF), where our expert team discussed the technology and funding application support available from IES to conduct reliable decarbonisation feasibility studies. Showcasing the ways in which we can help to empower investment grade decisions that reduce energy, carbon and costs across your facility.

You can now access the recording on-demand here.