Innovating in Sustainability

Before, commercial enterprises might have been happy with a lack of environmental regulation. However, with more and more human-caused natural disasters of various sizes and effect, this has changed. Consequently, businesses are now increasingly focusing on innovating with renewables and sustainable operations. Lou Leonard, the Senior Vice-President of Climate Change and Energy at WWF, explained that corporations are starting to understand the impact of climate change on their corporations.

Companies, from small family-run businesses to large Fortune 500 corporations, from all over the world are not only calling for action against climate change from the government, but are also investing in change themselves. The impacts of climate change have led organisations to take action themselves and make their operations more sustainable. This can be seen throughout the USA, where businesses are taking it upon themselves to take action against climate change, instead of just waiting for the government to do it. For example, many companies have publicly stated their support for taking climate action to meet the Paris agreement. The letter has now been signed by 1565 corporations, including large firms such as Apple, Walmart, Microsoft and Adidas. Another initiative is the Unreasonable Goals, led by the Unreasonable group, which aims to partner the non-public and public sectors in order to meet the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set on the United international locations in 2015. Companies are more dedicated than ever to reduce their environmental impact.

An example of how companies are innovating to become more sustainable is by using solar photovoltaic battery units to capture energy. Battery usage for storing electricity is nothing new. However, with the capacity of those new solar photovoltaic units on companies’ buildings rooftops, there are new opportunities in the energy sector. The combination of rooftop solar and battery storage is now affordable enough to give rise to the scenario of “partial grid defection” by Mckinsey & Company. The scenario explains that companies can store energy generated through solar power instead of selling their excess power back to the grid by using batteries. It allows companies to use solar energy when they need it by being able to store energy, but it also allows them to sell back excess energy to the grid in during peak demand, allowing other firms and consumers to use their solar power. It is expected that by 2050 30% to 45% of annual electricity consumption be supplied by customer-owned generators. This innovation has motivated a number of customers and companies to invest in rooftop solar and battery storage and thus become more sustainable.

It seems that a more sustainable generation is upon us, and it looks like there is a greener future on the horizon. The ever-changing energy sector is a good example of how companies are innovating to become more sustainable, by investing in sophisticated, new technologies.

Shafira Risa Amalina & Hoda Sheikhzadeh