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How Certified Renewable Energy Can Power A Sustainable Economy And A Sustainable Future

Renewable energy certificates offer a way to move towards a greener future by funding new renewable energy production, decreasing costs and helping to engage with local stakeholders.

Submitted by: Natalia Gorina

Posted: Jul 06, 2015 – 06:00 AM EST

Series: Energy – Powering Sustainable Futures

Tags: renewable energy, business, sustainability

 
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This is the most recent article in our series on Energy. For more articles, go to http://www.csrwire.com/blog/series/83-energy-powering-sustainable-futures/posts

For a growing number of companies, electricity is a prime resource in the value chain. However, several global corporates have increasingly come under fire from the general public, shareholders and major NGOs with regards to energy procurement. The failure to adequately manage corporate energy can leave a company vulnerable to risks, such as changing regulations and legal requirements. What is more, being seen as a big polluter carries detrimental effects for any brand. 

More and more companies have set themselves a target of growing the share of renewable energy in their consumption.  These commitments have been reflected in the global investments in sustainable energy: the past year witnessed a steep increase of green energy investments worldwide, with a surge of a solid 17% to US$270 billion according to the 2015 report by the United Nations Environment Programme. Leading businesses and renewable energy experts have also joined forces to form RE100, a global initiative aimed at motivating and recruiting major companies to use 100% renewable power across their operations. The initiative is also a reflection of the wider interest to disclose and communicate corporate performance in energy efficiency: calculating and, more importantly, reducing emissions from purchased or acquired electricity (“scope 2 emissions”) is a prerequisite for inclusion in the CDP’s prestigious Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index.

Nonetheless, joining initiatives and disclosing data alone will not be enough to boost corporate brand image and ranking, nor to ensure the “greenness” of energy. A key challenge for today’s companies when consuming electricity is the difficulty of tracing directly whether the electricity was produced using renewables or fossil fuels and nuclear.

To take larger strides in increasing the use of renewables, it is essential to be able trace the origin of power. The need for reliable certification systems has never been more acute. Renewable energy certificates (RECs) contain and disclose the renewable sources from which the electricity is consumed and are issued for every megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity produced by a power station.  However, only certain high-quality RECs with eco-labels ensure that the sources of energy are additional – in other words that the purchased renewable energy certificates have had or will have an impact on the development of new renewable energy installations and yield added ecological value. Additionality concerns the fact that RECs help fund new renewable energy projects that would not have been realised without the financing coming from the sale of the RECs. Such RECs provide buyers in the voluntary market with the convenience and flexibility in meeting their renewable energy goals, while cost-effectively routing capital to further renewable energy investments.

An example of a high-quality REC is GoldPower, a global REC product offered by South Pole Group and backed by thought leaders such as WWF and WindMade. Major market influencers and RE100 signatories such as SAP have already tapped into the pool of solutions offered by the premium renewable energy certificate: by sourcing GoldPower RECs from wind power in Turkey, SAP not only enables the construction of new turbines, but also contributes to the further development of renewable energy generation in the region. In addition to ensuring the production of new renewable electricity, the GoldPower project in Turkey is truly powering a sustainable future:  SAP’s certified renewable energy investment not only helps drive the operations of the software provider, but equally the funding needs of three primary schools in the Mersin province of Turkey. Similarly, PwC has purchased over 24,000 Mwh of GoldPower sourced from wind farms on Taiwan’s west coast, saving almost 26,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. PwC’s purchase also helps create employment in the remote fishing villages around the wind farms, and prevent environmental problems like acid rain, which would result from fossil-fuel extraction. 

As in the case of SAP and PwC, companies are becoming more demanding about how exactly their green power is produced. Leading companies are already leveraging renewable energy certificates to reach their targets and reflect an essential character of their brand. The unique capacity of high-quality RECs to secure new renewable energy production, mitigate business risks and engage local stakeholders in projects is an indispensable asset in the global pursuit for renewable energy and a greener economy.

This is the most recent article in our series on Energy. For more articles, go to http://www.csrwire.com/blog/series/83-energy-powering-sustainable-futures/posts

The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by CSRwire contributors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of CSRwire.

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