Change requires sustainable solutions
Professor Dr Aldo Belloni, Chief Executive Officer of Linde AG
Professor Belloni, the past year has been a challenging one for Linde. How is Linde dealing with change?
2017 was undoubtedly an exciting year. We experienced far-reaching changes and upheavals, such as those caused by digitalisation. There were some surprising election and referendum results. And our proposed merger with Praxair created some additional work. Change is permeating our business activities in many areas, whether as a result of regulatory requirements, changing circumstances or new customer needs. Global competition is increasing. Our employees are working continuously with our customers, as well as with suppliers, partners and researchers, to develop new solutions and more efficient processes. These efforts are key to ensuring that Linde can continue to succeed in the market in the future. Most importantly, change motivates us to continue to improve.
Does that also apply to sustainable management?
Of course. As a global company, we are aware of the role we play in society. Sustainability is one of Linde’s foundational principles and the basis for long-term success. We are committed to the principles set out in the UN Global Compact and we support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, especially in areas such as clean energy, innovation and health. We are working, for instance, on numerous projects designed to increase energy efficiency. To give an example from our own processes, we were able to reduce local CO2 emissions in 2017 by around 10,000 tonnes per year as a result of the overhaul of an air separation plant in China. Another example, this time from our product portfolio: In the healthcare sector, we continued to develop our Hospital IQ data platform, which improves hospital care processes for patients receiving oxygen therapy, while at the same time reducing the burden on healthcare staff.
Where do you see room for improvement?
At Linde, we are constantly reviewing our performance and progress at every level. So we are also aware of the areas where we still have work to do. For example, when we transport our products, every accident is one too many. That’s why we not only provide training for our own drivers, but also for the employees of our transport service providers, and we invest in vehicle safety. In a pilot project in Asia, for example, we tested technologies that can recognise when a driver is about to nod off at the wheel, identify possible distractions and intervene immediately. We want to use in-depth training to improve the safety culture and increase each individual’s sense of personal responsibility for safety.
Which sustainable products and technologies is Linde pioneering to drive forward the necessary changes in today's society?
We are researching and investing in numerous promising technologies and products, such as extracting fuel and energy from waste and recycling and storing CO2. In Saudi Arabia, we completed the largest CO2 purification and liquefaction plant in the world in 2017. And we have assumed a pioneering role in eco-friendly hydrogen technology. Fuel-cell vehicles generate no emissions. They also have a long operating range and can be refuelled just as quickly as conventional vehicles. It’s important to realise that hydrogen-powered vehicles are not some distant vision of the future. The technology for cars, buses, trucks and trains is well advanced and ready for use. In 2017, for example, we were awarded the contract to supply hydrogen for 14 fuel-cell trains in Germany. The trains are expected to carry passengers from 2021 and will replace existing diesel railcars. But hydrogen has huge potential beyond the mobility sector. "Green hydrogen" has been produced from wind energy in the Mainz Energy Park for two years now. There we are responsible for the processing and distribution of the hydrogen. Our experts are also looking into the role hydrogen can play as a storage medium for energy from renewable sources. A real challenge for a modern society and an incentive for us to continue to be active in shaping change.