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Investment Trends in Green Manufacturing

    環境に配慮したものづくり | Green ManufacturinG    
Investment Trends in
Green Manufacturing




The recent Green Economy Report by United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) indicates that the greening of economies is not a drag on growth but rather a new engine of growth and sustainability. This initiative also applies to manufacturing where the greening approach has been generally embraced, though smaller-scale businesses still need resources and supports.

Green Technologies

“Green technology” refers to the development of processes, practices and application that improve existing technologies or techniques by allowing us to meet our needs while eliminating or reducing the impact on the environment. Green technologies in manufacturing reflect not only the performance it delivers, but the energy, design, sustainability and viability of the technology itself as well. For example, with respect to energy, perhaps the most urgent issue for green technology, green technology includes the development of alternative fuels and making sure energy conservation and efficiency are a priority.

One key factor to go green is replacing or upgrading old machines with high precision machines. New machine tools normally come with higher precision and resolution features and more compact design. Higher precision and resolution means less errors and wastes in the process, which further means to less production time, materials and resources. Compact design means less energy consumption and floor space required, thus further reducing lights and maintenance as well.

Green Investment in
Different Sectors

0003Power generation, transportation and steel manufacturing are the three largest sources of CO2 emissions, and power generation is the highest emitter. Three–quarters of current electricity generation are based on fossil sources such as coal, oil and gas. Many green energy technologies are now available to businesses. Some of them are becoming competitive with fossil fuels while others are still expensive. However, as the economies of scale take effect in the future, the cost of these technologies is expected to fall and the share of alternative power generation is expected to increase rapidly.

Though the automotive industry has been recognized as a leader in green investment, its products are cited as the biggest culprit in global warming. Driven by increasingly stringent government regulations and concerns of energy security, virtually all leading automakers are exploring ways to reduce the CO2 emissions of their vehicles while increasing fuel efficiency. The automotive industry is investing heavily in the development of new clean propulsion technologies. These include hybrid vehicles and power trains, fuel cells, and electric cars.

Steel is also an energy–and–emissions–intensive industry. Energy accounts for a large share of the total cost of production of steel. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the iron and steel industries account for close to 20% of all energy consumed by industries worldwide and about 30% of the world’s direct industrial CO2 emissions. At the moment, steel is produced primarily by heating up iron oxide with carbon. As a result, carbon dioxide is also produced as a byproduct. Currently, more alternatives are in research and development, including a new approach using a process known as “molten oxide electrolysis” developed by researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Green Challenges for SMEs

A growing number of manufacturing businesses are finding that green investments are the way to sustainable growth.  However, when we look into manufacturing more closely, they are not yet satisfactory. The automotive industry is doing quite well in term of innovation to "green" their process and products, however, OEMs and suppliers are just beginning to realize that being environmentally conscious also means being financially savvy. The small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) especially still encounter many challenges, including limited access to information, knowledge and technology, lack of skills and qualified personnel, and most importantly, limited access to financial support.













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