Dorethe Nielsen, Novo Nordisk: “Going 100% renewable just makes sense.”

5 October 2018

Following Climate Week NYC, Dorethe Nielsen, Senior Director of Corporate Environmental Strategy at Novo Nordisk, tells The Climate Group why joining RE100 and sourcing 100% renewable electricity makes business sense, and shares the steps Novo Nordisk is taking to reach its target.

Why is Novo Nordisk going ‘100% renewable’?

“Here at Novo Nordisk, we believe that reducing our environmental impact is both our corporate responsibility and a way to mitigate long-term risk; as such, renewable power solutions are something that makes business sense.

“Our business is to innovate and provide treatments for people living with diabetes and other serious chronic diseases. This requires substantial global operations and we need to consider the environment and our impact on it. This is why we joined RE100 back in 2015.”

“We take climate change very seriously and since electrical generation is the number one source of carbon emissions, making up roughly 40% of carbon dioxide emissions on the planet, most of that from burning coal, going 100% renewable just makes sense.”

What are your achievements so far?

“We started in 2005, when we made the decision to decrease emissions, and in January 2006 we committed ourselves to a 10% reduction in CO2 emissions from 2004 to 2014, through the WWF Climate Savers program.

“In 2007, we then entered a partnership with Ørsted (named DONG Energy at the time), where we pledged to convert energy savings realized at our Danish production sites into the purchase of renewable energy certificates (RECS) from their wind farm being built in the North Sea. In 2010, all electricity supplied to our facilities in Denmark was converted to renewable energy certificates.

“In 2013, our Japan site started purchasing renewable energy certificates and in 2015, the year we joined RE100, the Novo Nordisk production site in Tianjin, China, rose to the challenge of moving away from coal-based electricity production and reached the target of using 100% renewable electricity (Gold Power).

“We have established a new agreement with Vattenfall from 2020, which will secure renewable power for all our European activities for ten years. We are also working intensively on a solution for our US production and affiliates. This is the last stretch before reaching our global 100% renewable electricity goal. “

What plans do you have for switching more of your electricity use to renewables?

“We always strive to choose solutions where additional capacity is added to the grid and, depending on the location, we use various renewable power sources, including hydro power, wind and solar power.

“We are using a variety of mechanisms, namely power supply contracts, GOs and RECs, some sourced as PPAs (bundled sourcing of RECS and power) and some unbundled, where bundled sourcing is not possible. With all of this, we strive to stimulate the building of more renewable production units in the future.

“As mentioned, when we have the solution for our US facilities in place, we will have reached our RE100 commitment and then all power for our production sites will come from 100% renewable sources.”

What new opportunities have you been encountering from sourcing renewables?

“Environmental awareness is a part of our Triple Bottom Line approach, which means that it is deeply integrated into who we are as a business and the responsibility we take seriously as a company with production and a global supply chain.

“It is not only about what we bring to the market, lifesaving medicines, but also about minimizing what we leave behind. When it comes to our environmental footprint, we are aiming for zero.

“If we look at the Taibus Banner Wind Project in North China, the project consists of 33 turbines which deliver 200 GWh of electricity to the North China power grid annually. The project fulfills all environmental criteria, improves air quality and provides employment opportunities.

“So not only is the project contributing to better air quality, it also creates new job opportunities in the surrounding area of Tianjin.”

What has been the reaction of staff and/or customers to Novo Nordisk sourcing renewable electricity?

“We can see a growing environmental concern amongst our patients, health care professionals and investors, which is also a reason why environmental awareness is important to address and implement in the way we do business.

“It is an issue that effects everyone and something we believe is a part of our corporate responsibility.”

Learn more about RE100 here. 

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