Adding less than 1% to power bills, while responding to increasing demand from customers, investors, and politicians, switching to renewable energy is increasingly the quickest and most cost-effective way for a company to cut its carbon footprint. However, according to the new report — Business and the Renewables Revolution, published this week by SmartestEnergy (the UK’s leading supplier of renewable electricity) — while 74 of UK’s 100 biggest companies pledge to cut their carbon footprint, only 38 companies purchased renewable electricity in 2015.
Unsurprisingly, companies with names like Apple, Google, Nike, and BMW are leading the way when it comes to recognising the role companies play in the environment, and the role they can play when it comes to driving change.
“Smart companies should rethink their energy supply and understand the benefits that switching to renewables can bring to their business, to the economy, and to tackling the global threat of climate change,” said Robert Groves, CEO of SmartestEnergy.
The report highlights four major benefits that come from switching, a switch which the author’s of the report described as “surprisingly inexpensive.”
- Cuts carbon footprint quickly and cost-effectively. Thanks to a change in guidelines, companies can now count the renewable electricity they purchase against their carbon targets and make major reductions in the emissions they report.
- Builds investor confidence and supports company valuations. Buying renewable demonstrates that an organisation is aligned with the drive towards a low-carbon economy. A £352 billion coalition of investors, including Aviva, one of the UK’s largest insurers, is specifically calling on businesses to commit to 100% renewable electricity.
- Helps win customers. A survey of 1,000 UK consumers found that almost four out of five people (77%) were more likely to buy from a consumer brand with a positive approach to sustainability and two thirds would recommend a brand because it either invested in its own renewable energy projects or bought most of its energy from renewable sources.
- Supports employee engagement on money saving energy efficiency programmes. Many organisations can save up to 10% on energy costs by investing 1-2% of energy spend on an effective employee engagement campaign, according to the Carbon Trust.Buying renewable electricity demonstrates corporate commitment and can form the centrepiece of an internal campaign.
And such a switch can have a massive impact. The report claims that businesses use more than 56% of all power generated in the UK, meaning any transition business as a whole makes to renewable energy has a huge impact on the country’s overall energy mix. This will become increasingly important in light of the UK Government’s aims to generate 30% of their electricity from renewables by 2020, and the concerns of analysts such as those from PwC who warn that to meet their binding carbon targets, the UK may actually need to source up to half of its electricity from renewables by 2020.
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