Infratech: Instrumental for the Green Agenda | Fieldfisher
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Infratech: Instrumental for the Green Agenda

Climate change mitigation has taken centre stage for governments and organizations worldwide, driven by environmental, social, and governance (ESG) agendas. The UK, as a frontrunner, committed in 2019 to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, marking a significant milestone in the fight against climate change. To attain these goals, there is an imperative to address the carbon footprint of infrastructure, a major contributor to emissions.

Enter Infratech, the integration of digital technologies and data into the infrastructure lifecycle, which offers a multitude of opportunities to enhance sustainability and efficiency.


Understanding Infratech

Infratech entails the fusion of digital technologies and data into infrastructure, ushering in a new era of innovation and efficiency. This paradigm shift aligns with evolving government priorities, emphasizing innovation as a key driver of progress. The core principle of Infratech is to enhance infrastructure efficiency, leading to greater sustainability.


Opportunities with Infratech

Infratech presents a diverse range of opportunities with proven global potential:

Smart Grids: Smart Grids, a prominent Infratech application, optimize the distribution of renewable energy through two-way communication, advanced analytics, IoT, and AI. These systems assess supply and demand, minimize outages, and optimize energy usage, aligning with renewable energy goals.

Vehicles: Cities like Copenhagen are harnessing Infratech to combat pollution and work toward carbon neutrality. Digital traffic management systems, equipped with sensors and CCTV, monitor traffic conditions and adjust signals, reducing idling time for vehicles and emissions.

Water Supply: Infratech can address water supply challenges, such as leakage detection and predictive maintenance. As droughts become more frequent, efficient water management becomes paramount.

Waste Management: Infratech facilitates a circular economy through digital marketplaces. Startups like Excess Materials Exchange use blockchain technology to create digital passports for waste materials, promoting reuse and recycling. Smart waste bins, like those in Cascais, optimize waste collection routes, reducing emissions and costs.

Digital Twins: Digital twins, virtual models mirroring physical infrastructure, enable organizations to test new processes, enhance efficiency, and reduce resource consumption. For instance, BT employs digital twins to manage energy demand, resulting in significant cost savings.

Reputation: Embracing Infratech solutions enhances a company's reputation, exemplified by Ørsted, the Danish power company that transformed into a renewable energy leader. Ørsted's use of Infratech underscores its commitment to sustainability.


The UK Government's Perspective

The UK government has long recognized the potential of Infratech, with former Prime Minister David Cameron acknowledging the transformative power of IoT technology in 2014. More recently, the UK government has emphasized energy systems in its Net Zero Strategy, promoting smart technologies in traditional infrastructure to save costs and reduce energy generation requirements. Initiatives like the Energy Digitalisation Taskforce and Energy Data Visibility Project receive funding to harness Infratech for green objectives. Moreover, Smart City projects, including Glasgow's 'Future City Demonstrator,' are driving innovation across the UK.

What are the Challenges?

While Infratech offers immense promise, challenges loom:

Regulatory Complexities: Infratech projects can get entangled in red tape, juggling technical requirements, stakeholder concerns, and sector-specific regulations. The UK's Linear Infrastructure Planning Panel aims to streamline Infratech deployment and reduce bottlenecks.

Cybersecurity Risks: The proliferation of network connections in Infratech systems presents an expanded attack surface for cyber threats. Governments have responded with legislation, including the UK Product Security Act, NIS Regulations, and European Cyber Resilience Act, to enhance cybersecurity.

Data Handling and GDPR: Infratech relies on copious data, necessitating compliance with GDPR regulations. Allocating Controller and Processor roles in interconnected systems can be complex.

Energy Demands: Infratech's computational demands strain data centres, which contribute significantly to greenhouse emissions. However, innovative solutions like climate-positive data centres and heat exchange systems are emerging to mitigate this impact.

Infratech represents an essential tool in the pursuit of green objectives. It can reduce carbon footprints, enhance resource utilization, and minimize pollution and waste. However, its adoption comes with environmental costs, cybersecurity risks, and evolving regulatory requirements, making it a complex landscape to navigate.

Infratech at Fieldfisher

Wherever you are on your infrastructure journey, Fieldfisher is here to help. If you would like to talk to us about an Infratech project you are working on, or if you just have any questions and want to learn more, please contact Chris Eastham or Nikhil Shah.

For a more comprehensive exploration into Infratech and its impact on the race for net zero please download the full article authored by Chris Eastham, Nikhil Shah and Sophia Steiger : Infratech: Instrumental for the Green Agenda

Areas of Expertise

Technology and Data

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