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Beyond Environmental Impact – the multi-pronged benefits of green innovation

  • Written by D Conor Hamill Chief Operating Officer, MOF Technologies

    We have all heard about the recent reports from the IPCC which categorically state that unless the world changes its approach to how we treat and respect the environment, then we face a very bleak future. Powerful storms, flooding, wildfires – an alarming picture that we are all acutely aware of. We know that something must be done, and fast, and that a key part of the solution will be found through climate tech innovation. However, while the importance of innovation in combatting climate change cannot be understated, there’s more to it. The environmental gains are undeniable, but green innovation is not solely for the planet - it’s for good profitable business, strong economies, and a better society for all. 

    Business gains 

    The greatest impetus of business change is the threat to profitability and, often, the most powerful voice in this regard is that of the consumer. Now, with society fully aware of its environmental impact, the expectation of customers, employees and stakeholders puts added pressure on leadership teams to ‘do better’ and embrace green decision making.   

    Take innovation stalwarts, Apple, for example.  After COP26, Apple launched 10 new projects to bring renewable energy to communities across the world, from the Philippines to South Africa and even to North American Sioux tribes. They pledged that by 2030, every Apple device would have a net zero climate impact. True to their word, Apple doubled their number of suppliers who use 100% clean energy and aims to have 175 suppliers do the same by 2025. We are infusing our values into everything we make — moving closer to our 2030 goal of being carbon neutral up and down our supply chain and across the lifecycle of our products, and ever advancing our mission to build a more equitable future”, said Tim Cook, Apples CEO. That same year, Apples sales increased by 33% and profits by 65%.

    Consumers respect companies that use and uphold sustainable and ethical decision making and are already beginning to distance themselves from brands who they believe are responsible of “greenwashing”, which is conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about the environmental soundness of a company’s operations or products. A survey conducted in the UK found that a fifth of adults had stopped using a brand that they believe were guilty of such, and 52% reported they were “keeping an eye” on the brands they consume. Such is the power of the consumer. 

    Economical gains 

    Climate technological innovation is not just a good business decision, but it can benefit the wider economy by stimulating growth. For a new piece of green innovation to gain traction it first and foremost needs to have a positive climate impact, such as minimising greenhouse gas emissions. However, it also needs to be better than what’s currently being used in its place. This often means gains in efficiency. These efficiency improvements lead to higher productivity, meaning more goods or services are produced and delivered. Wages then increase with business profitability and the economy grows. 

    Societal gains 

    The impact of eco innovation for society runs deep. Scientific and technological innovation is recognised as the catalyst of modernisation and shown to be the most crucial factor for societal progress and development throughout history. Research shows that general wellbeing is inherently linked to innovation.Living standards rise alongside innovation and our aforementioned economic growth. When it comes to developing countries,digital technologies and innovative solutions are helping to combat issues such as sickness, poverty, and hunger.   

    Further innovation-driven benefits to society (and the wider economy) include the opportunities brought by a buoyant job market. Jobs are created in response to the growing demand for innovations from fast growing industries, further boosting the global economy. It is estimated that the world economy could double in size by 2050 due to technological improvements. Belfast company, Andor, matured into one of the world’s most innovative companies in the photonics industry,they now employ over 400 staff between their Belfast offices and those in Japan, China, Switzerland, and the US. 

    Beyond job creation, improvements in quality of life are intrinsically linked with green innovation.For example, carbon capture technology like Nuada, will reduce CO2 emissions from our atmosphere and help to improve overall air quality.Yet, the greatest detriment to quality of life that we are currently facing is a global temperature increase of 1.5°C. The IPCC are adamant surpassing this will result in irreversible damage to society and our planetas a whole. Innovation in climate technology will be key to ensure that we do not exceed this ominous milestone, avoiding climate catastrophe and mitigating its already damaging effects. 

    Environmental gains 

    As mentioned, the main aim of climate innovation is of course to support the environment, and it’s already proving instrumental in maintaining hope for reaching our climate goals. For example, through government funding in innovation, the price of solar and wind energy has significantly dropped, bringing our 2030 goals closer than before. However, while a transition to cleaner sources of energy is paramount, focus also needs to fall on cutting emissions from hard to abate, but necessary, industries. 

    As it stands, carbon capture, utilisation and storge (CCUS) is widely regarded as a key player in tackling emissions from high pollutant industries such as cement and steel manufacturing. However, the IPCC is quoted as saying that the deployment of carbon capture lags severely behind the schedule required to meet global climate mitigation targets”. This is where further innovation is required. Traditional amine solvents are currently the go-to method for capturing CO2 but require extreme amounts of heat to extract carbon dioxide and, as such, come at insurmountable cost to the business. If a plant decides to modify existing framework to incorporate amine solvents, this redesign will prove extremely expensive and time consuming. All in all, these traditional carbon capture methods have been deemed commercially challenging.  

    Herein lies MOF Technologies’ area of expertise. Knowing the importance of finding a low-energy solution to enabling wide adoption of carbon capture, we’ve spent a decade researching and developing just that – a super-efficient MOF- (Metal-Organic Frameworks) based carbon capture system, designed specifically for critical, but high polluting, industries like cement production.  

    The MOF filter in our units is what makes all the difference, bypassing requirements for the excessive heat used by other solutions, thereby slashing energy use by up to 80%. MOFs are sponge like materials with some of the highest capacity for CO2 known to man and with our team of materials scientists and engineers, we have been able to pair MOFs with mature technology to create our Nuada carbon capture system.

    For this type of technology to make a real impact in our fight against climate change, it needs to be commercially viable and practical so that it makes business sense to adopt it. The huge energy savings are already a great selling point, but the Nuada system is also modular meaning it can be retrofitted to existing plants without expensive installation costs or redesign. This reduction in CAPEX, OPEX and overall cost of capture, opens the doors for the mass adoption of carbon capture at a time where it is sorely needed. 


    Climate Innovation is key and, coupled with ambition, will pave the way for fundamental change in Northern Ireland, providing a greener, more sustainable economy. Climate technologies will prove transformational, not only in achieving our Net Zero targets but in improving the quality of life for the citizens of Northern Ireland. By embracing the 10x vision, a decade of innovative, technological advancements could see Northern Ireland position itself among the small, advanced economies of the world. It will require a collective effort, from government, industry, and community leaders but its goal is one that could shape the world for future generations to come. 

    About the author

    Aoife is a Sync NI writer with a previous background working in print, online and broadcast media. She has a keen interest in all things tech related. To connect with Aoife feel free to send her an email or connect on LinkedIn.

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