Home' MHD Supply Chain Solutions : MHD Mar-Apl 2016 Contents There has been great hype about climate
change, sustainability and economic
growth in recent times and I am getting
the feeling that many of my supply chain
colleagues are getting confused on what that
actually means for our industry. Al Gore, former
US Vice President of the United States of
America, in his address to a gathering of Climate
Reality Leaders in Melbourne in July 2015, said:
"There are three questions we need to answer:
First, 'Do we need to change?', second: 'Can we
change?', and third: "Will we change?'"
These articles might give you some answers
to these questions. In Part 1 in the January-
February issue of MHD magazine, we looked at
the need to change, and in Part 2. this issue,
we will examine questions 2. and 3.
2. Can we change?
This question might be a bit more difficult to
answer. Supply chains need lots of energy
to power machines, cooling, heating and
illuminating factories and offices. Cultivating
the land and producing food to feed an ever-
growing world population requires more and
more energy, and, last but not least, transporting
all the goods and services in an ever-changing
global environment demands huge amounts of
energy. All these activities have been and still
are heavily relying on the use of fossil fuels.
One might ask: Do we have the technology
to move away from burning fossil fuel
to a more environmental friendly energy
production? As we know, many of our natural
processes on this planet are powered by
the sun, and the sun is a power source in
abundance, so the sun might provide that
answer for all of our issues. The rate of solar
input (insolation) to the earth could supply
approximately 6,700 times the rate of energy
demand of an industrial society (Diesendorf
2014). So the real question we need to ask is:
How can we generate enough energy from the
sun to power all our energy needs, and do we
have the knowledge and technologies to power
supply chains with renewable energy (RE)
sources? I am convinced the answer is yes.
With renewable energy sources like bioenergy,
oceanic energy, geothermal energy, solar energy,
hydropower and wind energy, there is enough
energy to run any supply chain. Many will argue
all these energy sources will not be reliable to
cover the base-load power our industry needs.
I will demonstrate that the combination of all
these energy sources can actually cover and
exceed all the energy demands, whenever it is
needed and in whatever capacity it is needed.
The beauty of these new technologies is also
that energy can be produced locally with small-
scale power systems, without the need of a large
electricity grid. Remote farms and communities
all around the world already benefit from
these small-scale energy systems, which can
also bring development and prosperity to the
underprivileged and developing countries.
How do I know that? During my research I
found astonishing uses of current technologies
and developments among remote villages in
Asia, the Middle-East and Africa. Humanity has
come up with some ingenious inventions like
pressured-air cars, solar roadways, or the huge
Concentrated Solar Thermal (CST) 'Gemasolar'
power station in Spain (Torresol Energy 2015).
The future is today, these technologies exist and
work well - we have thought of the technological
solutions to combat climate change already.
The fossil fuel industry will argue that these
energy sources will be much too expensive. But
when you examine the real price for coal, oil,
or gas energy, taking into account the massive
subsidies, the detrimental health impacts and
the cost of climate change to our infrastructure,
then we might see that RE solutions look much
more cost-effective, especially in the long run.
The coal industry will argue that their
development of power stations with Carbon
Capture Technology (CCT) will be the future to
power the planet. This has one very big flaw in
its concept. First, carbon capture hasn't been
developed to an industrial level yet. Second, we
have no solutions on where we would store the
captured carbon, and third, we do not know
on how much it will actually cost to transport
and store these captured carbon to their
final location. So the uncertainty of all these
questions might give the RE solutions a much
Why would we try to bandage a health and
climate change risk with still burning fossil fuel,
when we could generate energy much safer
and more cost effectively, and without any
adverse effect to our environment, by using RE
sources, and start building the energy industry
of the future. It is coming, it is just a matter of
time. Unfortunately, time is not on our side. The
changes will need to happen fairly quickly in order
to avoid irreversible changes to our atmosphere.
Let's look at some of these technologies
we could use to power future supply chains.
ARE CARBON NEUTRAL SUPPLY CHAINS UTOPIA OR
CAN THEY BE MADE INTO REALITY? PART 2.
MHD SUPPLY CHAIN SOLUTIONS --- MARCH / APRIL 2016
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