Innovation, a leverage point in the energy transition
As a global player in cables and cabling systems, Nexans is placing its expertise and capacity for innovation at the service of the energy transition. Climate change is a major concern for the Group which is providing practical solutions upstream and downstream of its activities to reduce the carbon footprint of its products over their entire life cycle.
Breaking new ground in developing competitive and sustainable products
Nexans has decided to focus all its R&D efforts on electrification because that is the market offering the cable industry the greatest potential for development and growth. Its aim is to become a technological leader in this area. This huge commitment to investment will help to improve and increase our offerings in three main areas: customer experience, digital solutions and sustainable development.
share of Nexans revenues generated by products and services contributing to the energy transition and energy efficiency by 2023
Nexans patent applications in 2021
regulated substances affected by substitution programmes
Aurora, the flagship of the Nexans fleet
Launched in June 2021, the Aurora is designed to operate in shallow waters not far from the coast, and also to take part in offshore operations. This DP3 cable laying vessel is the most technologically advanced ship in its class. It offers sustainable operational solutions in terms of its silent operation, fuel, energy production and the use of quayside electricity. It can support 10,000 metric tonnes of cable and is equipped with advanced instruments for transporting, laying and protecting cables.
On its agenda: the laying of export cables for offshore wind farms and interconnections around the world such as the Seagreen OWF link in Scotland, the Crete-Attica interconnection in Greece, or the Empire Offshore Wind project in the United States.
The flagship of the Nexans fleet:
A more circular economy
In partnership with its customers, Nexans is contributing to a sustainable economy through eco-design and life cycle assessments of its products. Identified in the Group’s CSR policy as one of its main goals, the aim of the circular economy approach is to limit the consumption of resources by implementing a closed-loop system for materials and resources:
- increasing the use of recycled materials in products from external or internal sources;
- reducing the quantity of raw materials used in products;
- providing recycling services to customers.
The use of renewable resources in products, such as bio-based materials, remains limited for two main reasons:
- a lack of technical properties to allow cables to meet the rigorous requirements specified in the standards;
- a limited environmental benefit for bio-based products such as bio-polymers. Although they contribute to reducing the impact on global warming or the consumption of resources, these materials put pressure on other environmental indicators (water and energy consumption, water toxicity, etc.).
Alongside 25 suppliers of building products and materials, Nexans is creating Valobat. This eco-organisation project, which is scheduled to start on 1 January 2022, will enable the entire sector to adopt Extended Producer Responsibility for the end-of-use treatment of products. Valobat will also promote the development of the eco-design approach for building materials.
The strengths of Industry 4.0
Nexans has embraced digitalization at some of its sites by selecting some of its profit drivers and leading factories for a pilot programme. Industry 4.0 offers considerable benefits:
- it makes the industry more attractive, in particular through the use of virtual reality, an essential tool for training operators safely in complex areas such as high voltage;
- it also provides a more qualitative way of working, which challenges the Group to ensure that on-site operators are properly qualified.
However, several challenges still exist:
- cultural, ensuring the entire group is on board with digitalization throughout the Group;
- organisational, with changing routines and operating methods;
- performance, with an adaptation of the level and skills of the teams;
- financial, because although digitalization requires considerable investment, it also offers a rapid return on investment in under two years
To take its digital transformation journey to the next level, Nexans is partnering with Schneider Electric on a joint pilot programme. The digitalization of the Group’s factories will further improve the efficiency of its production lines, enable predictive maintenance and reduce carbon emissions. Its cable and service customers will also benefit from this programme through enhanced product availability. The conclusion of the assessment of the two pilot plants in autumn 2021 will be used to develop a long-term plan, aimed at extending the digital transformation to a number of major Nexans sites throughout the world.
An opportunity for eco-design
In other units of the Group, Nexans is promoting eco-design at two levels:
- a qualitative approach, taking successive stages of the life cycle into account;
- a global and quantitative approach based on life cycle assessments in accordance with ISO 14040 and 14044.
By integrating these approaches into the environmental management system, it is also possible to meet the requirements of the ISO 14001:2015 standard; this includes taking aspects of the life cycle into account when designing products.
Winner of several awards and trophies (“eco-design”category), this new generation cable enables faster and easier grid connections for renewables (solar or wind farms, etc.). As one of the first cables to comply with the Group’s new Eco-design approach, based on comprehensive product life cycle assessment (LCA), EDRMAX by Nexans™ offers many benefits in various respects. It is easy to install, especially in challenging conditions like hard or rocky ground and it also significantly reduces joule losses compared with conventional EDR cables. This contributes to a 12% lower impact on global warming across the entire cable life cycle.
Product life cycle assessment
The Group assesses the environmental impact of some of its products across all stages of their life cycle, covering every stage from the extraction of raw materials used in their composition to scrapping or recycling, and also covering manufacturing, distribution, installation and use in the process.
In conducting these life cycle assessments (LCA), the Group applies the PEP (Product Environmental Profile) methodology from the PEP ecopassport® programme, of which Nexans France is a founding member. This programme complies with ISO 14025 on type III environmental declarations which provide the results of the product’s environmental impact assessment. The PEP is based on:
- the internationally recognised CML method for calculating LCAs, the indicators of which are compliant with the standards of EN15804 and include 9 environmental indicators (including global warming, scarcity of resources, water and air pollution) and 18 indicators for monitoring energy and water consumption and the reduction of waste, etc.;
- a methodology based on the ISO 14040 series of standards which define the principle, framework, requirements and guidelines for good LCA practices;
- product category rules according to ISO 14025, defined in partnership with other electrical and electronic equipment manufacturers.
This is the environmental identity card for its products which Nexans has made a cornerstone of its CSR strategy. The ® PEP ecopassport programme is a method for measuring the impact of a product on air, water, soil and natural resources throughout its life cycle. Compliant with the ISO 14025 standard, PEP ecopassports® are used by public and private developers and consultants involved in the design of sustainable buildings, as well as OEM clients committed to taking an eco-design approach when developing their products and systems. To date, Nexans has registered 45 PEPs covering over a thousand product references.
Extending the life cycle of products and re-thinking their end-of-life
Nexans’ products which, by their very nature, are associated with sustainable infrastructures, have long life cycles, in the order of several decades. This characteristic means that the subject of their obsolescence is not very relevant to the Group and yet it is nevertheless working to improve the sustainability of its products in order to further minimize their environmental impact.
Through its Innovation and Technology department, and in collaboration with universities and private companies, Nexans is conducting a wide range of tests, in accordance with product standards, to measure, improve and estimate the life cycle of the materials that make up the final cable as well as complete cables.
Thus, each cable has its own ageing protocol for measuring and estimating its longevity: UV, ozone and fluid resistance, salt spray test, thermal ageing, electrical performance in alternating current or direct current at high temperatures, etc.
As part of the circular economy approach, Nexans – a recycling pioneer in the sector – is offering its customers and partners the “Recycling services” offer, a complete solution for recovering and eliminating copper or aluminium cables.
Learn more about this:
This on-line application, developed by Nexans for everyone involved in the construction of “green” buildings, enables customers to select cables based on their environmental and economic impact according to three criteria:
- energy efficiency: with energy savings in KW h and euros throughout the entire life cycle of the installation;
- reduction of CO₂ emissions;
- personal safety: with a halogen-free alternative, if available, for greater safety in the event of fire.
Our extra-financial performance
Nexans is committed to building a lasting relationship and sharing values with all its stakeholders. The continuous improvement of our results reflects both the robustness of our CSR policy for stakeholders and the intelligent management of our strategy.
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