Quantum Computing as a Driver of ESG Initiatives

Your expert for qustions

Gleb Safonov
Manager at PwC Germany

Quantum computers assisting with sustainable development

Information technology has long been a reliable tool for achieving sustainability goals. Tried-and-tested concepts such as paperless offices and the automation of processes are valuable instruments for companies seeking to use resources sparingly and efficiently. With the arrival of quantum computers, a new generation of computing technology will soon be rolled out – one that holds great potential when it comes to environmental, social and governance (ESG) topics. Using such technology will open up unprecedented possibilities for achieving optimisation and performing simulations. The first milestones have already been set on the path for transitioning to the green technology of the future. At the start of 2022, for example, the World Economic Forum (WEF) published its “Quantum Computing Governance Principles” in order to specify the key parameters for the sustainable development of a quantum computing ecosystem.

“With quantum computing, humanity has gained a powerful tool in a time when urgent ecological and social challenges are facing our planet. We should seize upon this opportunity and apply this emerging technology in various areas of business – including in relation to ESG.”

Gleb Safonov,Manager at PwC Germany

A quantum leap towards sustainability

Reduced need for supercomputers means smaller CO2 footprints

Because quantum computers are progressing in leaps and bounds in terms of performance, they are suitable for many forms of computation that to date have been reserved for conventional supercomputers. Because they can solve complex tasks in considerably less time, they are likely to supersede many of the supercomputers of today. Qubits can hold a wider range of states than bits. Future quantum computers will therefore make the operation of multiple supercomputers obsolete in some cases and thus ultimately result in a smaller CO2 footprint. 

Quantum computing as a service – almost unlimited computing power from the cloud

It is already apparent that the provision of software and systems based on quantum computing is likely to take place via cloud-based services: quantum computing as a service (QCaaS). Providers of QCaaS currently include Google, Microsoft Azure Quantum, Amazon Braket, D-Wave Leap, and others. Cloud-based solutions offer potential savings in the area of IT infrastructure because they require less space and their scalability and pay-as-you-go models make optimisation easier. Furthermore, QCaaS solutions allow for the same environmentally friendly potential optimisations as cloud computing in general. 

Only energy efficient at -273°C – but progress anticipated in future

The operating principle of quantum computers is fundamentally different to that of conventional computers. These new computers process a larger number of states by using qubits rather than conventional bits. While conventional computers release a lot of energy in the form of atmospheric heat, quantum computers have an operating temperature of -273°C and do not use any heat. The challenge of energy efficiency instead lies in their cooling systems. This is where major steps forward can be anticipated to go hand in hand with the commercialisation of quantum computers. The technology has proven to be highly energy efficient once cooled. Moreover, photon-based quantum computers that are able to operate at room temperature are currently under development.

How quantum computers assist with ESG topics


Against the backdrop of global challenges such as climate change, the development of quantum computers is attracting considerable attention with a view to sustainability. The emerging new technology is far superior to existing computers in terms of computing power. For example, researchers will soon be able to use quantum computers to perform simulations that will improve our understanding of global warming and potential countermeasures. Furthermore, the computers will also be suitable for research into environmentally friendly materials as well as for optimising the management of natural resources.


Quantum computers enable simulations on a previously impossible scale. Scenario simulations can be used to improve forecasts regarding future developments and to make sound and socially beneficial decisions. There are also great expectations in the area of healthcare. It can be expected that the new computers will accelerate research into medicines and facilitate new approaches to the treatment and diagnosis of illnesses.


Quantum computers can process more information in a much shorter time than their conventional counterparts. They thus promise enormous potential in the area of data analysis and will revolutionise risk management in both the private and public sector. This will bring data-based decision-making to a whole new level. There will be significant disruption in the area of cybersecurity as quantum computers will likely be able to crack encryption processes that are currently secure.

Potential applications are promising – our planet needs quantum computers

Accelerating the energy transition with new computer technology

There are numerous potential applications for quantum computers in the field of renewable energy. Their computing power will facilitate faster and more detailed simulations for improving solar power facilities and wind parks. Machine learning based on quantum technology will allow for the optimisation of energy grids. In addition, quantum computers can assist with the rollout of clean alternative forms of energy, such as hydrogen power.

Researching new materials

The sustainable development of new materials will also gain greater momentum from the use of quantum computing. The possibilities here range from environmentally friendly battery technologies and green fuels for the automotive sector, to new superconductors (e.g. for the fastest trains in the world), the next generation of MRI scanners and efficient nitrogen fixation processes (which play a key role in the production of fertilisers).

Optimisation of supply chains

There are also numerous problems in the logistics and supply chain management sector that can be solved by using complex algorithms that are able to process various information sets, states and influencing factors. Quantum computers can boost performance when it comes to optimising supply chains by identifying transport routes on the basis of advanced data analyses. The never-ending challenge of the “last mile” can also be overcome in future by rolling out automated delivery vehicles with driving algorithms that are created using quantum computers.

Quantum Computing

Quantum computers are far superior to conventional supercomputers in numerous areas of application. For companies with a vision, now is the time to tap into the business potential of this technology. We will assist you in taking on a pioneering role within the market and in charting your course today – so that you can harness computing power that will be on a whole new level tomorrow.

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“In the coming years, quantum computers will play a key role in areas of application relating to ESG. Companies that get to grips with this topic today will be able to benefit from the opportunities sooner.”

Sebastian Paas, Partner at PwC Germany
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Sebastian Paas

Sebastian Paas

Partner, PwC Germany

Memik Inel

Memik Inel

Senior Manager, PwC Germany

Gleb Safonov

Gleb Safonov

Manager, PwC Germany