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Azure Digital Twins leverages IoT for powerful modeling that can ease transition to greater sustainability.

Climate impacts raise stakes for Net Zero transition

Following weeks of vital discussions at COP27 in Egypt, the urgency to bring the world to a more sustainable path has never been greater. Scientists have warned that the world needs to cut global emissions by 5 percent to 7 percent per year to limit the damage caused by climate change. At present, however, emissions are rising by 1 percent to 2 percent per year. Discovering new routes to a Net Zero economy is critical if we are to limit the economic and social damage of a rapidly changing climate. And that means we all have a part to play in ensuring we strike the optimal balance between greenhouse gas production and the amount of greenhouse gas that gets removed from the atmosphere.

A Microsoft and PWC blueprint for the transition to Net Zero highlights the importance of innovation and the harnessing of new technologies that enable organizations to deliver on their Net Zero ambitions, at pace. A key innovation that aims to accelerate organizations’ journey to Net Zero is digital twin technology supported by AI Infrastructure capabilities. A digital twin can be considered as a virtual working representation of assets, products, and production plants. Powered by Microsoft Azure AI-optimized infrastructure that leverages NVIDIA accelerated computing and networking technologies, digital twins allow organizations to visualize, simulate, and predict operations, whether those are at a manufacturing plant, a wind farm, a mining operation, or any other type of operation.

Adoption of digital twin technology offers early adopters the potential of truly accelerated and differentiated business value realization. Innovative companies can leverage this potent toolset to accelerate their innovation journeys and drive strategic business outcomes powered by technology innovation at scale. A recent study by Microsoft and Intel found that globally, only 28 percent of manufacturers have started rolling out a digital twin solution, and of those, only one in seven have fully deployed it at their manufacturing plants. One of the key findings of this study highlighted that when digital twins are utilized effectively, they can realize huge efficiency, optimization, and cost-saving gains while unlocking mission-critical insights that can drive innovation and improve decision-making for those who adopt the technology.

Maximizing wind energy production with digital twins

Digital twins have emerged as a powerful tool for renewable energy producers seeking optimization gains in their production processes too. Take South Korea’s Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction as an example. As a leader in engineering, procurement, heavy manufacturing, power generation and desalination services, Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction was appointed by the South Korean government to help it meet the goals of its Green New Deal plan, which includes a target of generating 20 percent of the country’s electricity needs through renewables by 2030.

Seeking improvements in the efficiency of their wind turbines, Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction partnered with Microsoft and Bentley Systems to develop a digital twin of its wind farms that helps it maximize energy production and reduce maintenance costs. The company currently has 16 South Korean wind farms in operation, which generate enough electricity to power as many as 35,000 homes per year. Its innovative digital controls and operations enables Doosan to remotely monitor wind farm operations, predict maintenance before failures occur, and limit the need for maintenance teams to physically inspect the wind turbines.

Leveraging Azure Digital Twins and Azure IoT Hub powered by NVIDIA-accelerated Azure AI Infrastructure capabilities, Doosan can simulate, visualize, and optimize every aspect of its infrastructure planning, deployment, and ongoing monitoring. This has led to greater energy efficiency, boosted employee safety, and improved asset resilience. And with Bentley seeing their Azure-powered digital twin technology reduce operational and maintenance costs by 15 percent at other facilities, Doosan is well-positioned to continue benefiting from their digital twin solution and unlocking new efficiency gains by leveraging the power of cloud-based AI infrastructure capabilities.

Leveraging digital twins to power Net Zero transition

In the oil and gas sector, digital twin technology is helping one of the world’s leading carbon-emitting industries to identify opportunities for optimization and carbon reduction. A noteworthy showcase can be found with Tata Consulting Services who delivered a Clever Energy solution to a global consumer goods giant. Using digital twins, real-time data and cognitive intelligence to improve energy savings at this consumer goods customer’s production plants, the solution helped reduce energy use by up to 15 percent as well as an equivalent CO2 emissions reduction. Considering that buildings consume nearly 40 percent of the world’s energy and emit one third of greenhouse gasses, this solution also helps the customer alleviate some of the pressures of significant energy cost increases in Europe.

In another example, a large multinational supplier that aims to achieve Net Zero carbon status by no later than 2050 is today leveraging the power of digital twins to support its sustainability goals.

From the vast global network of complex assets this company manages, a digital twin of one of their facilities was developed to calculate real-time carbon intensity and energy efficiency. Microsoft Azure provided the perfect platform: the IoT Hub receives more than 250 billion data signals per month from the company’s global operating assets, with AI providing key insights into how they could become a safer and more efficient business and Azure AI Infrastructure and High-Performance Computing enabling the seamless processing of huge volumes of data.

With long-term plans in place to scale the digital twin solution to all of the company’s global facilities, Microsoft Azure’s security, scalability, and powerful high-performance computing capabilities will be key supporting factors in how successfully they could transition to more carbon-aware operations.

Powering the Next Era of Industrial Digitalization

At NVIDIA GTC, a global AI conference, NVIDIA and Microsoft announced a collaboration to connect the NVIDIA Omniverse platform for developing and operating industrial metaverse applications with Azure Cloud Services. Enterprises of every scale will soon be able to use the Omniverse Cloud platform-as-a-service on Microsoft Azure to fast-track development and deployment of physically accurate, connected, secure, AI-enabled digital twin simulations.

Key takeaways about a Net Zero economy and digital twins

Shifting to a Net Zero economy is one of the defining challenges of our time. As the devastating impact of climate change continues to disrupt global economies, businesses will need novel ways of reducing their carbon footprint and help bring the world to a more sustainable path.

Considering the vast complexity of modern businesses—especially resource-intensive industries such as oil and gas, and manufacturing—finding ways to optimize processes, reduce waste, and accelerate time to value can be extremely cumbersome unless novel technology solutions are found to help provide differentiated strategic capabilities.

Digital twin technology offers organizations a powerful option to run detailed simulations generating vast amounts of data. By integrating that data to the power and scalability of Azure high performance computing (HPC) and leveraging the visualization power of Nvidia’s GPU-accelerated virtual computing capabilities, organizations can discover new opportunities for greater efficiency, optimization, and carbon-neutrality gains.

Read more about how companies are using IoT spatial intelligence to create detailed digital twins of physical assets by downloading the latest IoT Signals Report.

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