How Businesses Can Support Renewable Energy In The Community

Published on: 10 November 2022
by Eric Burdon
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Since Russia’s war on Ukraine started, the energy landscape has been overhauled and changed drastically, to the point that we may be entering a global energy crisis, something that may need resolution before we can competently address the overarching climate crisis. And as the war continues towards the one-year mark, and as we enter the northern hemisphere winter, many world leaders are looking to change how and where to secure reliable access to energy.

So far, the European Union is proposing ideas such as capping revenues from low-cost generators and making all-round energy costs more reasonable. Additionally, consumers are seeing rises in electricity prices amidst what has perhaps been the watershed year for an elevation in adverse weather events. Resilience will be key, so interest in renewable energy is on the rise.

The transition to renewable energy, while accelerating, will still take time. However, this doesn’t mean that businesses need to feel left behind. There is already plenty you can do to make the switch to renewables and to support their implementation in your community. Here is how.

Setting Goals And Strategically Thinking

An important revelation from businesses making the change to renewable energy is that the preservation of the environment does not simply equate to a reduction in emissions. There are many examples (like airlines) of companies that advertise that every time you buy a product, they plant a tree. While it feels good to buy a product, the consumer isn’t fully aware of whether the company is reducing waste in the product they’re providing. It’s a textbook example of greenwashing

In Europe, people are catching on to those strategies and so it’s better for businesses moving forward to look at reducing emissions rather than planting trees and not think of ways to reduce waste or emissions. These changes will vary from business to business.

But they all come down to assembling plans, creating objectives, and setting goals.

Collaborate And Report Progress

Transparency is the key pillar of ESG values. If you want trust, you need to constantly show your work and inform people what is happening. 

In order for this to work, companies and business in general need to work together to make the transition viable. One example is Gucci and Intesa Sanpaolo - the Italian international bank - which have had an ongoing collaboration and have also expanded that partnership, revealing that partnerships don’t need to be within a specific industry. This collaboration would allow Gucci’s supply chain to be both sustainable and inclusive.

Investing In Renewable Resources

Even the act of buying from suppliers of renewable energy or developing your own renewable energy sources, these efforts are quite feasible. Small businesses can even participate in this, making this a budget-friendly option. Some energy sources to be looking for are:

  • Biofuels - Biomass converted to liquid fuels directly. Similar to gas from fossil fuels, this is cleaner though uses some similar terminology to gas such as biodiesel and ethanol. All in all, these are fuels that are created through more abundant and cleaner sources. Ethanol is currently created from sugars and starch, but research is being done to make it from cellulose. Biodiesel is a combination of alcohol and oils (usually vegetable or animal). Notably biodiesel doesn’t need to be 100% pure. It can be mixed with diesel, allowing for situations like Trondheim, Norway to have 200 buses run on biogas or biodiesel. Theoretically, cars could have a small portion be run from cooking oil or from hydrogen fuel cells.

  • Wind energy - We’re all very familiar with wind turbines and how they work. But for small businesses, they can simply buy wind energy from local wind farms similar to other electric companies. This is cheaper than setting up massive wind turbines. That being said, vertical designs are evolving rapidly and the near-term options for viable on-site turbines that are both reliable and less conspicuous than the traditional blade models are hitting the market. Research if these could favourably impact your business and if there are localised subsidies that could apply. 

  • Geothermal heat pumps - These tap into the earth's constant temperature and blow out air in the process. Working with this constant value, heat pumps exploit the differential, meaning it’ll be warm in the colder seasons and cool in the warmer seasons. These systems are basically refrigeration and heating systems, though they demand significantly less energy and will reduce a business’s power bill by a lot. Installing these systems is a huge hurdle as they can be pricey, though countries may offer tax breaks - such as Canada’s Inflation Reduction Act - to incentivise installing these systems.

Becoming Fully Sustainable

In business, money talks. This can be used as a vehicle for change. One less company relying on fossil fuels can essentially brag or communicate that they made the switch to sustainable sources. As sustainability increases in importance for consumers today, they will feel more of an urge to support businesses that support such sustainable initiatives than others that don’t.

Becoming more sustainable, to any degree, is a marketing opportunity.

But the bigger picture is that the loss of business can encourage other businesses to adapt and change to become relevant again. And that’s what matters here. The more businesses that can make the switch will make it easier for when your city, region, or country makes the transition to sustainable sources.

Find more ESG inspiration for your business via our ESG Courses and ESG Events.

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