Carbon neutrality - Are we on track?

    Much has happened since we announced in December 2016 that LM Wind Power would go carbon neutral in 2018. One of the driving forces behind the pledge is Senior Manager, Communications & Sustainability, Lene Mi Ran Kristiansen. One year into this commitment, Lene shares her perspective on the path towards carbon neutrality so far.

    Lene, how can we achieve carbon neutrality?

     

    Going carbon neutral involves three main steps. First, we had to figure out exactly how much carbon dioxide (CO2) we emit as a company; a process also known as greenhouse gas accounting. Greenhouse gas accounting is a key step in identifying where our emissions come from and how we can address them in the most efficient way. Greenhouse gas accounting establishes our carbon footprint, which basically is the sum of carbon emissions caused by all our business activities. After having established carbon footprint of the company, we can initiate the next step, which is reducing or even eliminating the biggest emission sources.

     

    The last step involves carbon offsetting to compensate for those emissions that are unavoidable when running the business, by funding carbon reduction projects elsewhere in the world. Carbon offsetting projects generate ‘carbon credits’, with one credit documenting that one ton of CO2 was reduced or avoided by funding a particular project. When you balance your emissions with an equal amount of emissions reduced and offset, you can claim that you are carbon neutral because there is a zero total release of CO2 in the atmosphere. But the cycle does not stop there. Every year, not only do we need to prove that our carbon footprint has remained zero, we also want to continue to make further reductions. In short, account, reduce, offset and repeat.

     

    How far is LM Wind Power in this process?

     

    We are on track to meet our target in 2018! Over the past months, we have accounted for the total carbon footprint of the company. We have also kicked off the second step by initiating an Energy Efficiency program, which is all about optimizing energy use in our plants. We decided to narrow down the various Energy Efficiency measures available to installing ventilation control, Energy Management Systems, and LED lighting because they have the highest savings potential. The Energy Efficiency program is the perfect example of how sustainability drives business improvements, because the savings on our energy bill will more than fund the rest of the carbon neutrality pledge!

     

    As part of the Energy Efficiency program, we are attacking the biggest source: electricity consumption. There are various routes available and together with General Electric (GE) we are exploring the option of generating our own green electricity by installing a wind turbine or solar panels on site, or buying renewable electricity directly from a wind farm with GE turbines and LM Wind Power blades. All of this was initiated in 2017 and it will continue in 2018, which will be a year of celebration as we deliver on our pledge. I am incredibly excited about that and proud to be part of it!

     

    Did anything surprise you in the process so far?

     

    The complexity of what it takes to take the company carbon neutral surprised me. For instance, in order to construct the company’s carbon footprint from employee commuting, we would need to know from every employee the distance they travel to work, how they travel to work and how often they come in. Do they use a bike, a car or public transport? Is the car they use a passenger car or a heavy duty vehicle? This is the level of detail we need to determine our carbon footprint and employee commuting is only one aspect of our total footprint.

     

    Can’t we just copy other companies?

     

    We are actually the first company in the wind industry to pursue this goal. And there are not so many organizations outside the wind industry that have gone to this length either. There are of course companies and organizations to consult but ultimately we are the ones who decide how we want to meet our pledge. Frankly, we can feel that in the process now. There is no simple and predefined path to follow. We are constantly exploring new turf, learning and adjusting as we go.

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    Lene Mi Ran Kristiansen

    Sr. Manager, Communications & Sustainability

    "We are constantly exploring new turf, learning and adjusting as we go."

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