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With businesses focusing on reducing carbon emissions, more and more of them are looking at renewable energy solutions to fulfil this corporate social responsibility.
The most notable of these companies leading the way to a renewable, lower carbon world are arguably the members of the RE100, a group of more than 100 influential businesses committed to 100% renewable electricity, promoting its benefits and encouraging other businesses to invest in it. Companies such as Aviva, Unilever and Burberry are among the high-profile members of this group, indicating that initiatives designed to focus corporate attention towards renewable energy and other environmentally friendly, energy-related goals are working.
How can going renewable help your business?
Firstly, it gives you the opportunity to join the supply chain of one of these larger companies, including those who are already part of the RE100. In order to get in the supply chain of these prestigious companies, you must attempt to adhere to the same sustainability and environmental values as they do, and this may include moving to, or already being, 100% renewable.
For example, M&S is currently running various programmes to encourage suppliers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Since the launch of Plan A, M&S has lowered its carbon emissions by 19%, reported a 36% improvement in energy efficiency across its UK and ROI operations and is carbon neutral across its worldwide operations, joint-venture stores, offices, warehouses and delivery fleets.
Adam Hall, head of sustainability at Surfdome (one of Europe’s leading action sports and lifestyle retailers who stock brands such as Adidas, Nike, and The North face) also spoke about the importance of having a sustainable supply chain: “We do expect all our suppliers to increase their sustainability credentials, if they do not over longer periods of time, it adds to less favourable conditions for us to work with them going forward.”
Furthermore, being seen as a business that is environmentally conscious is a powerful marketing tool. It shows customers your business is concerned about more than just making money, but the welfare of the planet. This could lead to more customers and in turn more revenue for your business.
Companies wishing to follow in the footsteps of the RE100 can lower their carbon through a number of routes.
The first of these is through the investment in the generation of their own electricity through onsite, grid-connected schemes. Apple Park, Apple’s new headquarters in Cupertino USA, is powered by 100% renewable energy from multiple generation sources, including a 17MW onsite rooftop solar installation and controlled by a microgrid with battery storage.
Even though this represents a significant investment, to overcome the issue of high costs many businesses can instead turn to smaller scale alternatives in generating zero-carbon energy. Solar panels represent a smaller investment run in the short term, with high-cost savings in the long term through having your own power supply. Furthermore, battery storage is a technology that could revolutionise the energy market as it can reduce carbon and save costs in perfect harmony, by storing energy when it is at its cheapest and using that stored energy when the energy price is at its highest (like the red band period). To add to this, if you combine battery storage with solar panels you can apply the same principle, storing energy made through the solar panel when the sun is shining and discharging where necessary.
Companies can also reduce carbon through purchasing renewable electricity sourced from generators and suppliers in the market. This includes direct purchases from specific generators (e.g. power purchase agreements), which can be located offsite. An example of this can be seen through BT's investment of £440 million via power purchase agreements in three wind farm sites in Lancashire, Scotland, and Wales – contracts that help provide long-term stability for renewable energy generation in the UK. It also includes retail purchases from suppliers offering contracts backed wholly or partially by renewable power. An example of this can be seen with Sky; as of 2010, all the energy Sky purchase from the grid is 100% renewable.
This begs the question, if a well-known multinational company like BT, Sky or M&S can commit to combatting climate change then why can’t your business? Not every company has the budget of companies in the RE100, however changing to a zero-carbon energy supplier is a quick and cost-friendly solution to reducing your business’s carbon footprint. If this does interest you then contact Bryt Energy on 0121 726 7575 or at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can be supplied with zero-carbon, 100% renewable energy at no extra cost, and also how onsite generation and battery storage can help save your business money.
Join the renewable revolution. Make it your business too.
To find out more about the companies in the RE100 and how they are contributing to the renewable revolution visit http://there100.org.