Most people have heard about the environmental consequences of excessive carbon emissions. The main concern is around carbon dioxide (CO2), the biggest contributor to greenhouse gases (GHGs) that are warming our planet. Earth can balance out the effects of naturally occurring activities that produce CO2 (like respiration). But when we interrupt the natural balance – like burning a lot of fossil fuels or cutting down too many CO2-absorbing trees – climate changes escalate.

At SAS, we understand the business risks of climate change as well as broader implications for people and our planet. And so do our customers. For years, we’ve helped customers tackle an array of business challenges. And many of those have led to significantly reduced carbon emissions.

Let’s see how some of our customers are using SAS to improve asset functioning, operate more efficiently, make better energy forecasts and keep customers happy – all while cutting carbon emissions.

Manufacturing: SPG Dry Cooling improves power plant efficiency and energy forecasting

SPG Dry Cooling used to rely on experience and theoretical data to forecast and optimize performance of the air-cooled condensers that it manufactures. But there were limits to how many parameters they could incorporate with this approach. To better predict and optimize performance of condensers and the associated steam cycle – which determines energy production – SPG Dry Cooling turned to SAS and advanced analytics.

Using IoT sensors and a digital twin of the installation, the manufacturer began capturing additional types of parameter data to accurately forecast performance under a wider variety of circumstances. By applying advanced analytics, they increased power plant efficiency, helped avoid unplanned outages, and improved maintenance planning.

Helping power plants run more efficiently is one obvious way to reduce GHGs. But analytics also helps manufacturers like SPG Dry Cooling achieve other benefits.

For example, avoiding unplanned outages is especially important if the outages occur when zero-carbon energy production isn’t available on the grid. In those situations, backup power generation sources might emit significantly more GHGs. And forecasting intraday power plant capacity helps utility planners optimize their mix of generation sources, minimizing carbon emissions while meeting demand reliably and affordably. The cherry on top – power plants can save water by using analytical models to predict when a system needs maintenance.

Water is part of earth's natural capital. Learn more in this blog post.

Energy: Red Energy confidently markets renewable energy home solutions

The transition to clean energy is not just a shift in technologies and processes. Understanding customers’ behavior is also key to making the change.

While operating a clean electric grid is highly complex, it’s 100% predictable if you have enough data. That’s because electricity follows the rules of physics. Flows of electrons don’t involve likelihoods or propensities. Electricity doesn’t have biases and doesn’t act irrationally. People are different. That’s why understanding consumption patterns and behavior – sometimes driven by emotions and biases – is crucial to achieving a clean energy future.

The shift starts with gaining insights into customers’ needs. Red Energy recognized this as they were preparing to launch their battery and solar operation for a residential market.

To expose sales opportunities for these products, Red Energy asked SAS to advise them on which data to collect and how to interpret it. They learned how the data could be used to complement marketing campaigns – while feeding intelligence back into the framework to inform future decisions. Now the company is much better prepared to transition customers to clean energy sources – when and how it makes the most sense for their customers.

Education: Boston Public Schools consolidates bus routes, slashes daily carbon emissions

Boston Public Schools offers students a wide array of school choice – but those choices result in a complicated and expensive transportation system.

Understanding carbon emissions

 A reduction of 13,000 pounds per day in carbon emissions is equivalent to GHGs from more than 54,000 miles driven in an average passenger vehicle. Another comparison: It's equivalent to the CO2 emissions from 2,433 gallons of gasoline consumed. Check this EPA calculator to see more examples.

Over time, the district had used the same legacy bus stops without adjusting for logistics behind the stops. Their approach relied on blanket rules for all students and did not account for factors like the student’s age and neighborhood safety. They needed a way to strategically consolidate routes so they could improve performance, reduce unnecessary stops and save money.

With SAS, the district analyzed a wide variety of factors to reduce the number of bus stops – which cut costs while better serving students’ needs. Now the transportation group can consider different sets of constraints, then see the impact on the total number of stops across the entire system.

Using analytics, Boston Public Schools eliminated almost 50 buses (8% of the total) for a long-term cost savings of around $5 million. As for environmental savings: the district saved about 13,000 pounds of carbon emissions each day – a huge number.

What else is SAS doing to help customers kick carbon?

Complementing our corporate commitment to people and planet, SAS regularly sponsors hackathon teams that work to find creative solutions to all types of problems. The goal for one of our 2021 teams was to find ways to recycle manure in a “circular” fashion, focusing on improved nutrition and reduced carbon emissions. See what the NPK4ever team discovered with their innovative project.

Learn more about our commitment to people and planet

About Author

Tim Fairchild

Director, SAS Global Manufacturing Industry Marketing

As the Director of SAS Global Manufacturing Industry Marketing, Tim Fairchild leads a team of manufacturing domain experts responsible for industry-focused market strategy and engagement, messaging and content, communities of practice, and enablement. He is passionate about how the combination of curiosity, analytics, education, and innovation can solve the biggest challenges of our world.

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