4 October 2019: An event at UN headquarters highlighted emerging technologies that can help governments achieve the SDGs and climate goals. The event brought together representatives of governments, the private sector, and civil society who heard presentations on the work of six companies operating across Asia, Africa, North America and South America on issues ranging from solar, hydrogen fuel cell, and geothermal technologies to e-waste and waste water.
The event titled, ‘Climate Action: Latest Business Technologies for Meeting the SDGs,’ took place on 4 October 2019 in New York, US, and was organized by NGO Sustainability, the Government of Slovenia and ROTH Capital Partners.
Opening the event, Darja Bavdaž Kuret, Permanent Representative of Slovenia, reiterated Greta Thunberg’s call for governments to “finally listen to the science,” and put in place policies that effectively curb the global temperature rise.
Starting a series of presentations on green technologies, Lee Muller, AquaVenture Holdings, said AquaVenture is focused on delivering sustainable and environmentally friendly water solutions through companies like Quench and Seven Seas Water. He explained that Quench’s water cooler systems save energy and water, help reduce the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs), and reduce dependence on petroleum, and in 2016 alone, such systems kept an estimated 22 million five-gallon plastic jugs from entering the waste stream. Muller noted that Seven Seas Water is successfully replacing thermal desalination plants that use energy inefficient distillation technology with reverse osmosis facilities that are far more energy efficient. He emphasized that studies show that the byproduct of seawater inverted osmosis has very little impact on the oceans and the environment if properly designed.
Rado Petkov, Canadian Solar, said Canadian Solar is providing clean, safe and affordable solar energy in 160 countries and to major companies such as BlackRock, Samsung and TransCanada, and is one of the world’s three biggest solar companies by revenue. He noted that the company operates three “state-of-the-art” solar photovoltaic (PV) research centers for cells, modules and systems in Canada and China, where 250 scientists, engineers and technicians conduct research to continuously improve the company’s solar cell and solar module technologies.
Duane Nelson, EnviroLeach Technologies, explained that EnviroLeach Technologies is a technology company and near-term gold producer that is engaged in the development and commercialization of environmentally-friendly formulas and technologies for the treatment of materials in the mining and eWaste sectors. He explained that, using its proprietary non-cyanide non-acid-based process, EnviroLeach extracts precious and base metals from ores, concentrates, and eWaste using only additives approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Noting that EnviroLeach Technologies has already worked with four of the ten largest gold mining companies in the world, Nelson underscored that the company will change the way in which the world mines gold and recovers precious metals from e-waste.
Henry Charrabé, Fluence, said Fluence is a global leader in mid-sized, decentralized water and wastewater solutions by, inter alia, providing highly efficient packaged and pre-engineered treatment solutions and serving all aspects of the water market value chain. Charrabé highlighted that: water consumption will double by 2050; while any body of water can be treated, the issue is the cost; there is no reason for any country in the world to flush its toilets with drinkable water; and solutions for waste water treatment need to be economically feasible and backed by strong public and private sector leadership.
Paul Thomsen, Ormat Technologies, said Ormat designs, builds and supplies power generating equipment for customers’ geothermal and recovered energy power plants in 30 countries. He noted that Ormat’s geothermal solutions are sustainable, emissions-free, and ensure that facilities integrate into their natural surroundings. He added that the company’s geothermal plants are designed to harness the power and lifespan of their reservoirs by re-injecting 100% of all geothermal fluids. Thomsen observed that Ormat’s proprietary recovered energy generation power plants enable industries to capture unused waste heat from their processes, convert it to electricity, and either reuse or sell it to the grid, with zero emissions and without added fuel consumption.
Andy Marsh, CEO, Plug Power, said Plug Power provides cost-effective hydrogen and fuel cell power solutions that increase productivity, lower operating costs, and reduce the carbon footprint. He explained that a hydrogen fuel cell is an electrochemical power generator that combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, with water and heat as by-products. Marsh noted that hydrogen fuel cells produce energy that can be used to power electric vehicles including forklifts and cars as well as for primary and backup power for commercial, industrial and residential buildings. The technology can also be used to power drones and recharge mobile phones.
In the ensuing discussion, participants raised issues related to, inter alia, waste water-fueled energy and the environmental costs of different water desalination technologies. Rodrigo Alberto Carazo Zeledón, Permanent Representative of Costa Rica, said Costa Rica tries to be both a green hub and “a green laboratory” for green technologies, through public-private-academic partnerships. He noted that he looks forward to hydrogen becoming part of the country’s energy grid. [SDG Knowledge Hub Sources] [Business Wire Press Release]