Manufacturing Industry Leaders Weigh in on the Shift to Renewable Energy

calendar iconJanuary 5, 2024

Transitioning our energy infrastructure to cleaner sources will take significant capital investment, rapid technological innovation, and collaboration between industries and regulatory bodies. Those were the key points shared by manufacturing leaders from both the supply and demand side of the energy equation, who spoke at a session about operations and sustainability during Cherry Bekaert’s 2023 Modernizing Manufacturing Symposium. The session was moderated by Jason Hodell, Industrial Manufacturing Leader at Cherry Bekaert.

Beyond Renewables

“Renewable energy alone can’t create a resilient grid,” said Bill Newsom, President and CEO of Mitsubishi Power Americas. A subsidiary of the Japan-based Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Group, Mitsubishi Power Americas has a core business in manufacturing power-generation equipment and a growth business supporting the transition to clean energy. Instead of only focusing on renewable energy, Newsom described, the industry will also need to produce and store energy in ways that are flexible, scalable and cost-effective.

“In the last 20 years, we’ve shut down coal and replaced it with natural gas renewables,” Newsom said. “One of the things we’re working on is innovation, bringing to scale hydrogen and related technologies, and working collaboratively across sectors.”

These efforts are part of a long-term strategy at Mitsubishi Power Americas to work towards decarbonizing existing facilities and building a hydrogen ecosystem. The opportunity is substantial, he characterized, citing recent comments from market watchers that the organization that figures out how to decarbonize the US grid will be the next trillion-dollar company.

Taking Initiative

Scott Carlton, President of Tokai Carbon GE, advised that manufacturers will need to take charge of their own destinies rather than rely on external factors. The company is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of graphite, which is critical for the steel industry as well as for lithium-ion batteries. The company is currently looking into manufacturing its own electricity.

We’re still in the engineering and financial justification phase, but more than likely, we’re going to put in solar panels,” Carlton said. “We’re going to chart our own path, and I think a lot of manufacturing companies are doing the same thing.”

These electricity efforts are one outcome of the company’s newly developed environmental, social and governance (ESG) scorecard. “Everyone is pretty upbeat about where we’re going,” Carlton continued. “We’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do, and we ended up probably justifying it financially too.”

Let Cherry Bekaert Guide You Forward

The clean energy transition is prompting manufacturing companies to revisit how they do business. With assistance from our experienced industrial and manufacturing professionals, we can help pinpoint innovative solutions that can fuel your growth in this changing environment while also minimizing your tax liabilities, maintaining regulatory compliance and reducing supply chain disruptions. Together, we can create forward-looking solutions that can enable your company to embrace change and propel you into the future.

Additional Resources

How AI Has the Potential to Transform Manufacturing
Process Maturity Modeling for Modern Manufacturing
Sustainable Manufacturing: Harnessing Energy Tax Credits
Carbon Accounting Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Accelerating Your Business Growth Through Continuous Improvement: Part 1
Improve Quality Using a Business Process Maturity Model: Part 2

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