22 February 2021:
We spoke to Stefan Kintscher, General Manager for the Value Chain Integration Group at Hitachi, and Helen Grundy, Environmental Specialist at Hitachi, to see how they are approaching their journey to a more sustainable future. What became clear very quickly is that the company has been aware of its responsibility to help tackle climate change for some time and has, on a global scale, been increasingly focused on how it can achieve its ambitious decarbonisation targets.
Helen: “At the beginning of our current mid-term management cycle, we announced our aim of carbon neutrality throughout the business by 2030. Since then, a significant amount of time and resources have been dedicated to making this a reality. We started by using energy more efficiently, then generating renewable energy, procuring it and offsetting our carbon footprint. The enhanced efficiency of procuring sustainable energy as a group, rather than as separate businesses, is being realised. The company has always designed products that add value to people and the planet – we are now ready to take this one step further.”
Despite the growing enthusiasm and opportunity for increased energy sustainability, the transition to renewable energy sources is not without its challenges.
Stefan: “The first major challenge is the technology itself – there is a variety of options available and they are changing rapidly. Determining the best tech for different sites and for the business overall can be complex. The second greatest challenge is the cost. There is a lot of excitement and momentum among many business sectors to go carbon-free, but achieving this while remaining competitive is difficult. A balance must be found between adequate investment in renewable energy sources and still maintaining healthy project margins to prevent other areas of the business from suffering. At Hitachi, we use our scale, size and capabilities to offer world-class technology solutions while remaining highly competitive.
“As industry moves forward, it will be very interesting to see how all businesses fair in the journey to decarbonisation. Smaller companies often carry a lot of the innovation, but some may struggle to make the transition due to lack of capital or resources. We are using extensive internal teams to navigate the renewable energy procurement process – those without access to similar resources will need to find innovative ways to master the challenges. As such, I don’t believe that size alone will dictate success in the sustainable energy field. It’s about finding smart solutions that suit the individual business.”
Stefan and Helen point out that there are a huge number of aspects to consider when seeking renewable energy sources and each company will have unique constraints and opportunities. In order to overcome the issues and maximise on the benefits, they agree there is a profound need to simplify the procurement process, as this will increase accessibility to businesses of all shapes and sizes around the globe. Discussing other areas in which renewable energy suppliers or generators could support businesses in their decarbonisation targets,
Helen: “From an environmental and sustainability perspective, we need access to clear, robust reporting. This allows us to collate the data needed to manage and report on our energy use effectively.”
Stefan: “At Hitachi, we are very interested in working with the best of the best in each market. We get to know the energy suppliers or generators we’re interested in working with, exploring their energy procurement processes, investment in renewable tech, network solutions, charging vehicles and PPA solutions, including virtual PPAs, in addition to their reporting tools. Our aim is to choose the best fit for our ethos and company to help us achieve our carbon goal while staying as competitive as possible.”
Stefan will be presenting at the first Clean Energy Exchange 2021 webinar of the year, on 23 February. He will share the learnings of Hitachi’s journey to decarbonisation so far, highlighting the difficulties of the transition even for a global business like Hitachi with significant resources and incentives. He will also outline his search for strong and capable partners in the sustainable energy sector to potentially work with going forward. If this could be you, you can contact Stefan here.
Clean Energy Exchange 2021 is a webinar series produced by Solar Energy UK and Renewable UK. The first virtual event in the series will focus on the growth of clean energy in the technology sector, offering fresh insights into how technology companies are procuring renewable energy and investing in the green power infrastructure of the future. More information available here.