The Vestas executive leading its decarbonisation push said the wind group has taken the “hard road, but the right road” as it seeks to eliminate emissions from its global operations by 2030 without the help of offsetting – with a simultaneous greening of its supply chain.
Head of sustainability Lisa Malmquist Ekstrand told Recharge the Danish wind giant will hit its new corporate decarbonisation target purely through its own initiatives, rather than using offsetting – a tried and tested mechanism that effectively allows companies to buy into third-party emissions reductions to count alongside their own efforts.
Ekstrand said: “There is a criticism out there, sometimes rightly so, against carbon offsetting. For us it was important that we find the right way.
“It is an ambitious goal, in particular because we’re going to deliver by our own action only. We have a lot of work to do.”
The 2030 full decarbonisation goal is accompanied by a 55% reduction target as soon as 2025 for Vestas and its 25,000 employees.
While some of the elements of Vestas’ corporate transformation are relatively straightforward – for example, a shift to use of electric company cars this year – the wind group faces all the wider challenges of decarbonising a large, geographically diverse industrial operation.
While its factories have been renewable-powered for five years, heating, for example, remains a tougher nut to crack. “The challenge here is to move beyond [renewable power]. That is something we are working on a plan to do now. We’ll be able to talk more about that later on,” Ekstrand said.
While Vestas looks at its own operations, it has also set a supply-chain goal of 45% per MWh generated by 2030. That will be measured by analysing the turbines Vestas produces and ships each calendar year against the benchmark of 2019.
Ekstrand said discussions will begin immediately with suppliers. She declined to comment on any sanctions against those that fail to measure up to the sustainability agenda, but said: “Sustainability will be a criteria going forward for working with suppliers.”
Areas such as steel supply – an industry that is notoriously hard to decarbonise – will be a focus for Vestas, she added.
Ekstrand said it was not immediately possible to calculate a cost for the decarbonisation push. “ It’s very difficult to put a price tag on this. It will cost something, but we also think it will generate savings, and increase the company’s attractiveness to investors, customers and future employees.”