Global warming and business are becoming increasingly hot topics. So companies around the world are having to reconsider their corporate responsibility. Businesses are cautious when it comes to environmental issues, and rightly so. Companies who are deemed to have a significant carbon footprint are often forced to abide by new legislation. All in protecting the environment by becoming more eco-friendly.
However, legislation isn’t the only catalyst for businesses going green. Environmentally cautious consumers are demanding more from their businesses, and will often consider sustainability and the carbon footprint before selecting their goods.
Award-winning Aggreko gets the green medal
Climate change is heating up business economics. So businesses the world over are taking initiatives. All to minimize their carbon footprint. That’s even including Glasgow-based, Aggreko. The world’s largest temporary power generation company, and a major supplier of power for large events , became certified as ‘world class’ according to the ISO accredited CEMARS standard by the Achilles Carbon Reduction Programme.
Forward thinking Aggreko are known for their efforts in reducing their carbon footprint. In 2007, they teamed up with California’s Gaslamp Quarter, a historical neighborhood in downtown San Diego, to demonstrate their eco-friendly attitude. By collecting residual cooking oil from the Gaslamp Quarter’s many restaurants, Aggreko created a biodiesel to power this year’s festival, making it environmentally safer and more responsible.
Going green pays
A common misconception is that going green could inhibit efficiency and consequently profits. A large corporation which exemplifies the monetary benefits of becoming environmentally friendly is American sportswear giant Nike. After tackling claims of sweatshops and breaches in human rights in Indonesia, China, and Vietnam, Nike are determined to maintain a positive public image, particularly concerning climate change.
Last year, Nike released their Sustainable Business Performance Summary outlining their sustainability achievements including reducing their energy use per unit by over a quarter in major global distribution centers. The summary proudly highlights a number of impressive energy saving and waste reduction statistics. Most importantly, it announces their growth in revenue of 26%.
Governments increase the heat
Businesses will be receiving increased pressure from governments. Especially if they are to hit their carbon emission reduction targets.
More over, China, USA and the European Union account for over half of the world’s global carbon emissions. As well, it’s also no coincidence that these regions are also the world’s largest producers of goods. The USA generates a whopping $1.6 trillion worth of goods annually. However unfortunately coming at a cost which impacts the rest of the world.
The world’s second largest emitter of carbon dioxide. It’s pledged to reduce its carbon footprint by 26-28% by 2025. That’s in order to hit this hefty target. So companies across all sectors will be targeted.
Then there’s Aggreko and Nike. They are just two of the millions of examples of businesses worldwide taking decisive action. All against talking environmental issues. From multinational corporations to local sole traders. Because it’s essential for businesses to firmly integrate corporate social responsibility into their business model.
Investing in solar
Yet as Fast Company adds too,
If a company buys solar power, for example, that doesn’t mean that it runs on solar power all of the time. Achieving the goal of 100% renewable just means enough power to cover them. I mean that it’s buying enough solar power over a year to match its annual use.
So even factories or stores with solar panels on the roof are connected to the grid. I mean when the sun isn’t shining, the grid isn’t getting power from solar.
Instead of calculating the emissions cuts over a year, the study says, companies should look at hourly averages. Because accurate accounting, becomes really clear that you need to think about 24 hours a day. Especially if you really want to reduce your emissions to zero. These comments came from Sally Benson. Sally is a professor in the Energy Resources Engineering Department in the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences at Stanford University. More over, Sally is one of the authors of the study.
The study also looked at the example of California. That’s where renewable energy is growing as the state ramps up to 100% renewables by 2040. On a sunny day, the grid can have so much extra solar power that some solar or wind farms have to shut down; more demand for renewables won’t help replace fossil fuels. That’s since fossil fuel plants already may not be running as solar power is peaking. That’s unless you request 100 percent of your power to come from solar power too!
However at night, certainly the grid runs on sources like natural gas. So as more renewable energy is added to the grid, the problem will be magnified. Unless you add more energy storage.
Because by 2025, the study says, if a company was calculating its emissions reductions; I mean California think again. That’s because I mean by looking at annual averages instead of hourly averages, it could overstate those reductions by 50%.
Batteries to store excess renewable energy could help. It is also dropping in cost substantially. Get some think it’s not part of the full solution, Benson says. “Batteries are good for a couple of hours of storage, but it’s very expensive to provide 24 hours a day,” she says.
Please note consequently that was in 2016. I bought Powerwalls and use them daily. In fact, they cover almost most nights. I do need one day to add another Powerwall but I’m almost there.
As well as solar does have environmental issues of their own. “Most of them are built in China with coal-based power so that when you look at the full life-cycle emissions of [solar panels] plus batteries, at some point if you put on too many batteries, the benefits of putting on those batteries start going away.”
Certainly new energy storage technology is better. For example it seems like towers that store energy using gravity might be better. Companies aiming to cut their carbon footprints could also carefully invest in a mix of sources. I mean like wind, solar, and geothermal. That’s all to help make it more likely. That renewable power is available when it’s also needed.
Raising awareness matters
Most companies haven’t fully explored the real emissions impact for their shift to renewables, says Benson. “Most companies more over were happy just to buy enough energy to offset their total annual energy use from a renewable source. And they really weren’t thinking about this day-night issue, for example.”
However even as I mentioned as CES in 2018 that’s also starting to change. Because even both Google and Microsoft are examples of companies that are shifting to hourly accounting.
Benson also hopes that the study helps convince others to follow. “We’re just trying to raise awareness. All so that people start asking the question. It is, am I getting clean power every hour of the day?”
Unfortunately here in Australia, despite the Paris Agreement’ the government is once again trying to appease a struggling mining industry by watering down environmental conditions, still offers billions in subsidies to fossil fuel industries and very little support to renewables. the only reason the household solar industry is in good health is because it makes financial sense. Lets hope as renewable technologies improve big business will have to get on board.