"Shifting to 100% renewable electricity is the right thing to do, both for us as a business and for society as a whole": Carlsberg Group

Reading time: 7 minutes
11 July 2017

The Carlsberg Group is switching to 100% renewable electricity at its breweries by 2022. Here, the company’s Sustainability Director Simon Boas Hoffmeyer explains how it will contribute to Carlsberg’s journey towards zero brewery carbon emissions by 2030.

Why is Carlsberg Group going 100% renewable?

At Carlsberg our founders had a passion for brewing for a better today and tomorrow. 170 years later we are still driven by this sense of purpose. We are shifting to 100% renewable electricity by 2022 because it is the right thing to do, both for us as a business and for society as a whole.

Beer is made entirely from natural products, so we are reliant on a healthy natural environment. Climate change poses a very serious risk to our supply chain and the communities that buy our products.

We also believe that relying on carbon intensive fossil fuel energy for our growth as a company will lead to future business risks, due to the global drive towards a low carbon future.

To achieve bold decarbonization targets globally, we believe that business must step up and help lead the change. This means companies need to reduce their own carbon emissions in line with the levels required to achieve the more ambitious goals set forth in the Paris Agreement. With our commitments in our new program, ‘Together Towards ZERO’, we are playing our part to make this happen.

How did you decide on your 100% goal?

We have revised our sustainability ambitions and targets in the light of global commitments such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement, as well as our own corporate strategy ‘SAIL’22’. We believe that there is a need for swift and decisive action on climate change to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality around the world.

Further to this, over the past few years we have seen a significant drop in the price of renewable energy, as well as increased incentives from national and local governments to switch to renewables.

Taking all this together, it offers a holistic business case with financial, social and environmental reasons for why a 100% target on renewables makes all the sense in the world.

What have you achieved so far?

We are switching to renewable energy in a variety of ways. In 2016, approximately 45% of our electricity came from renewable sources.

For example, we installed over 8,000 solar panels in Dali, China, which meet up to 20% of the electricity needs at the brewery. We also extract biogas from the waste water at our breweries at more than 18 breweries across the world.

Where we don’t produce our own green energy, we can buy third party renewable energy certificates with guarantees of origin, which is what we do in Western Europe to cover any electricity not originating from our own renewable sources.

What plans do you have to switch to renewable electricity in future?

We will continue using the approaches we have utilized in the past to deploy on-site renewables and use green gas, while constantly being on the look out for new opportunities that arise from innovations within processes and technology.

What challenges and opportunities are you experiencing?

We see a big opportunity in engaging our global and local stakeholders in our commitments to a sustainable future. We strongly believe that our ambitious program will give us a competitive advantage and help us in becoming the preferred beer for key customers and consumers, driven by a global thirst for sustainable beer.

In terms of challenges, any engineering project requires management focus and technical capabilities to be successfully implemented. So, ensuring we have access to the best talent to help us implement Together Towards ZERO is a very important factor for achieving our targets.

Why do you think it is important for companies to help increase demand for renewable energy?

As a business, we like to be in control of our own fate and play an active role in creating the stable and sustainable market conditions that we want to see. By taking a leadership position on renewable energy through our RE100 commitment, we are giving out a strong demand signal that helps to create the right investment environment for suppliers and sub-suppliers of clean tech, and encouraging them to become independent of legislation that could impact us in the future.

By working together with other companies with similar values we can help to create certainty on the future direction of travel and help accelerate sustainable development.

Why is RE100 an important initiative to join?

At Carlsberg, we are always on the search for partners, as well as technology and scientific solutions that can help us achieve our sustainability ambitions. Joining RE100 brings us into contact with other leading companies and we believe that the opportunity for sharing knowledge, experience and best practice will provide invaluable insights that will help us all to improve.

We also see it as a great communications platform to tell the world about what we stand for as a business today and why we are working to contribute to a sustainable tomorrow.

What else are you doing to drive a net-zero emissions economy?

In June 2017, we launched our new sustainability program Together Towards ZERO. This is a response to global challenges such as climate change, water scarcity and public health issues. As well as aiming to reach zero emissions as a company, we also want to put a stop to water waste, irresponsible drinking and accidents in our operations.

Each of our four ambitions has individual and measurable targets. When it comes to carbon we have pledged to achieve zero carbon emissions at our breweries by 2030. By the same time, we want to have reduced the carbon footprint of putting a beer in our consumers’ hands by 30%.

We know that there are certain steps that we can take alone, and others where there will need to be major shifts and technological breakthroughs. So, we are aiming to be as ambitious as possible to help drive the shift towards the bigger transition we need to reach net-zero across global economy as soon as possible.

Facebook icon
Twitter icon
LinkedIn icon
e-mail icon
Google icon