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How to build a more sustainable energy strategy

The environment is moving up the corporate agenda – but how do you speed up your business transformation and embrace new sustainable energy innovations? Here’s our four-step plan to making it happen.

The corporate world is now more focused on social and environmental responsibility than ever before. That’s the message from our recent Distributed Energy Future Trends survey – giving cause for optimism about a more sustainable future.

Two years ago, our research showed that sustainability ranked as the sixth most important organizational priority. Now it’s a top three issue.

Yet different businesses mature at different paces – and further action is needed across the board. So, regardless of how much you’ve achieved as a sustainable business so far, how do you accelerate your transformation to becoming sustainable?

Having an effective energy strategy that utilizes sustainable energy innovations is a critical part of building sustainability throughout your entire business. To ensure your business is equipped to embrace these new innovations, we recommend the following steps:

Step 1: Link energy to business objectives

Of all the steps you can take, creating a clear energy strategy is perhaps most vital. To maximize buy-in, this strategy should be linked to your business objectives – making it part of your wider strategy.

When creating your energy strategy, consider what success looks like. This means building a roadmap with specific targets, actions and budgets.

To underline the importance of energy in your organization, give a member of the leadership team responsibility for your energy strategy and its success.

Step 2: Balance digital transformation with energy needs

A key strategic focus for many organizations is digital transformation. However, don’t let this overwhelm the need to consider energy transformation – because the two initiatives are linked.  

First, an increased reliance on digital technologies means necessity to operate 24/7. So a formal energy resilience strategy should be part of your energy strategy, helping you to power digitalization.

Second, consider the benefits of digitalizing your physical energy assets as part of your transformation. This means you can integrate data across assets, helping you to understand your energy usage and generation better – optimizing performance and maximizing return on investment.

This can be a complex area, so engage expert, external help when you need it – while building your own specialist, in-house resources.

In the long run, adopting digital technologies can also help you to move closer to a circular economy. Nature’s resources are being used up 1.75 times as fast as the planet’s ecosystems can regenerate. By using real-time insights into recycling, energy efficiency and renewable production, organizations can reuse by-products from their operations and create a more sustainable economy.

Step 3: Minimize energy-related risk

Our research shows that energy security and resilience is a top four risk that businesses are facing. So it’s vital to take active steps to minimize energy-related risk and build resilience into your wider energy strategy.

To do this, you first need to understand your risk and how it changes over time. We recommend conducting regular risk assessments. Then, as part of your mitigation efforts, consider reducing your reliance upon a single technology source. Diversified energy sources, for example, can include a mix of on-site generation and battery storage.

Step 4: Have a clear vision for emissions reduction

The pursuit of net zero carbon emissions is currently on everyone’s lips – on the news, in the boardroom, on the political agenda, and more. This is driving a new wave of sustainable energy innovations, creating countless new opportunities for business to explore.

At the heart of any energy strategy should be carbon emissions reduction – helping to make your efforts part of the solution to the climate crisis. This is complex, of course – but a key part of reducing emissions is to understand them, so you can set clear priorities for carbon reduction. To help you, choose suppliers with good environmental credentials.

Finally, work to integrate your efforts into a corporate and social responsibility (CSR) plan. As before, this plan should be part of your wider business strategy – again helping to reinforce the link between sustainability and your business goals.

Through a combination of these four steps, you can better harness new sustainable energy innovations and progress your journey to becoming a more sustainable business. Nonetheless, we must also remember that this is just the beginning of the story. As technology advances and new sustainable energy innovations emerge, so too should your energy ambitions. To find out more about how we can help, read our guide below.

How can sustainable energy innovations help you solve business challenges?

Sources: *Distributed Energy Future Trends Report – Centrica Business Solutions research, statistics based on a ten country survey of more than 1,500 energy decision-makers in large organizations.