Leading the way: why it’s time for businesses to shout about their green energy choices

Rapid advancements in technology and important policy changes have been making energy managers’ lives interesting - and challenging – for quite some time now. And while the pace of change may initially have caught some businesses off-guard, most won’t be surprised to learn that it’s not likely to slow during 2019 or beyond. 

Nor will the focus lessen on driving carbon reduction and sustainable practice in our industrial sector. The reason for this is simple: Business and Industry have a crucial role to play in securing our low carbon future, with non-domestic consumption accounting for two thirds of power use globally. So, it naturally follows that we can only maintain progress towards the important environmental targets needed to protect our planet if businesses are engaged and proactive when it comes to industrial decarbonisation. For many, this begins with a move to renewable electricity; a move which the RE100 say has the potential to, “accelerate the transformation of the global energy market and aid the transition to a low carbon economy.”

The business benefit of green energy
This isn’t to say that ‘going green’ is a purely altruistic choice for businesses. The commercial benefits of CO2 reduction are numerous and significant. For example, RE100 members consistently outperform their peers financially and 88% of members cited economic reasons for joining the initiative. The fact of the matter is, while the main driver of industrial decarbonisation over recent years has been a legislative and governmental focus on climate change, it isn’t just policymakers who are pushing businesses to ‘go green’. The UK public grows ever-more engaged with the issues surrounding CO2 production and climate crisis. This is further demonstrated by the findings of our 2018 consumer survey. It told us that almost three quarters of consumers prefer to buy from brands that use renewable energy. From consumer demand through to talent retention and from better control over energy costs through to supply chain resilience, adoption of green energy represents an opportunity for businesses of all types and sizes.

Become an industry influencer
Organisations like the RE100 have long recognised the importance of businesses making an environmental commitment. Now, a new Leadership Paper published by The Climate Group in association with CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) draws on the best practice already being implemented by the RE100 collaborative to lay out a framework that can guide more businesses towards leadership in the transition to renewable energy. Such businesses are now being encouraged not only to make more environmentally sound energy choices but also to make those choices more actively, more transparently and more publicly.

Why is this important here in the UK? Well, despite all the arguments in favour of decarbonisation, progress towards our climate commitments has now stalled, according to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). 2018 marked the tenth year since the Climate Change Act came into force and since the creation of the CCC. Over the decade before, leaps and strides were made towards the UK’s decarbonised future. However, with the legally-binding targets of the fourth (2023-2027) and fifth (2028-2032) carbon budgets still ahead, our nation is no longer on course to meet our obligations under the Paris Agreement. The year ahead will therefore be critical.

The CCC is calling on policy and decision makers to act with urgency and the UK’s industrial sector has a central role to play here. Businesses can help to drive change by declaring their green intentions and setting targets that are ambitious, clearly defined, and achievable within their specific set of circumstances. Their action will send clear messages to policymakers and encourage others to join the energy revolution. Moving momentarily away from the bigger picture, actively choosing renewable energy also serves to distinguish a business as influencer and market leader, boosting business resilience during what are quite uncertain times.

Overcoming obstacles
It’s important to acknowledge that, despite the best of intentions and the increasing benefits of renewable choices, there can sometimes be internal and external factors that can affect a business’ ability to choose green energy. These range from an organisation’s appetite for risk, through to market structure, availability of capital, capacity to understand market opportunities, and geographic diversity of business operations. Each business will be affected by a unique and often evolving set of circumstances. The Climate Group’s Leadership Paper is designed to inspire businesses to look beyond these obstacles and focus on what they can achieve, by celebrating, “the diverse range of actions that companies can deploy to go further and faster in impacting renewable markets throughout the world”. In other words, the journey you take may not look like that of another business; it is yours alone.

Active choices made easier
So how can your business take its next step towards a better energy future, secure better energy prices for the long term, and take a more active and enduring role in the UK’s transition to renewable energy? It may begin by making a commitment to sourcing 100% renewable electricity from a trusted source, by optimising how energy assets are used on site, or it may involve longer term investment through a Corporate Power Purchase Agreement (Corporate PPA).

At Ørsted, we want to make those next steps as easy as possible. Our 100% renewable electricity offering is supported by Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin (REGO) certificates. This provides the the visibility and evidence to report zero scope 2 carbon emissions in Greenhouse Gas reporting, while supporting participation in sustainability programmes such as the RE100 and Carbon Disclosure Project. In addition, our unique, smart tools help businesses become more flexible with their energy consumption, so optimising energy use across all sites.

For those already in the position to make a longer-term commitment, our Corporate PPA allows businesses to invest in specific wind farm projects. This provides several benefits including the ability to secure budget certainty on electricity bills and the ability to send a clear and definitive message about their commitment to renewable energy. By choosing projects in specific locations, businesses can also raise brand awareness in those areas and demonstrate their dedication to local communities.

The RE100 reports cited above provide us with straightforward evidence that companies embracing the opportunities created by the clean energy transition are already reaping the benefits. They are the leaders in their sectors. With so much at stake for our individual businesses, our wider industry.