Friday, 11 July 2014

IBM Launches Green Horizon Initiative in China

Technology giant IBM has announced plans for a brand-new initiative that will see the company concentrate the vast majority of its global research capabilities in an effort to help China meet its energy and air pollution goals.  The initiative, dubbed 'Green Horizon', is a 10-year programme to transform China's energy landscape and, hopefully, improve national health at the same time.

IBM will work with the Chinese government on three primary areas:

  • reducing environmental air pollution
  • increasing energy efficiency
  • developing renewable energy sources

The key to the initiative is to develop each of the three areas alongside China's growing economy.  Integrating an energy and air pollution policy with an economic policy will enable both IBM and the Chinese government to take full advantage of a number of resources simultaneously.  This will enable them to get more done with the available funds.

Environmental Air Pollution

The robust expansion of the Chinese economy over the last several decades has not come without a cost.  China's manufacturing sector is among the heaviest polluters in the world thanks to outdated technology and poor air quality control. This is the first area that the initiative will tackle.

Beijing's municipal government, one of the first partners to get on board with the Green Horizon initiative, plans to spend upwards of US $160 billion to meet air quality improvement goals in the city by 2017. IBM's contribution involves using cloud computing, data analytics and air quality monitoring to provide the information scientists need to improve air quality.  IBM's supercomputing capabilities make them the ideal candidate for this task.

Energy Efficiency

China's manufacturing sector accounts for nearly 70% of the nation's energy consumption.  IBM will work with government and private industry partners to develop management programmes for commercial enterprise that will increase energy efficiency across the board. IBM will use the knowledge it has gleaned from its own energy efficiency efforts to help Chinese industries do better.

Renewable Energy Sources

Chinese officials realise that continued economic growth in the 21st century will require greater dependence on renewable energy sources rather than continuing to rely solely on fossil fuels.  IBM will assist through a variety of analytical tools built around weather monitoring and forecast modelling.  The data these provide will help the Chinese design and build renewable energy projects that make the best use of sun, wind and water.

IBM's ambitious plan, if successful, will completely transform the way China does business.  We expect IBM's work to also lead to the development of brand-new technologies we are as yet unaware of.  Any success enjoyed in China will translate into better energy use and reduced air pollution across the globe, even as the world's economies continue to expand and grow together.

The only possible snag in the IBM plan is government interference. China is not known as a bastion of freedom, so it will be interesting to see how much leeway IBM is afforded.  We hope interference from Beijing is minimal.

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