How a big polluter transformed into the greenest energy company in the world
Ten years ago Ørsted was one the most fossil fuel intense energy companies in Europe. Today, Ørsted has cut its emissions by 86 per cent and is ranked the most sustainable energy company in the world.
More than one third of the world’s carbon emissions come from power production. Some fifteen years ago Danish energy company Ørsted, at the time one of the big European polluters, decided it didn’t want to be on that list anymore, and took action.
”What we have tried to do over the past ten years is to radically transform our business. We have gone from being a traditional energy company, which had interest in coal, oil and gas, to become one of the largest renewable energy companies in the world, with 90 per cent of our revenues coming from renewable energy assets”, said Devapriyo Das, Senior Communication Advisor for Sustainability at Ørsted, in a panel discussion during Earth Day Week, a no-fly online climate conference with 400 000 daily viewers from more than 100 countries.
Today Ørsted is the world’s largest developer of offshore wind, having installed roughly every third of off shore wind turbines in the world. Instead of being on the list of big polluters, the company now ranks number one in Corporate Knights’ 2020 index of the Global 100 most sustainable corporations in the world.
”When we set out on this decarbonizing journey as a company we believed it would take a generation, roughly 30 years, but we’re actually going to meet the target by 2025, which is decades ahead of what we ourselves predicted”, says Devapriyo Das.
He can see no reason why other power companies should not set out on a similar journey.
”In the past six years the cost of electricity from offshore wind has fallen by 66 per cent. Today wind and solar are actually cheaper than fossil fuels in two thirds of the world’s countries. And the solutions are already here. We don’t need to start building fancy new systems. We already know the systems that work, we just need to build them at greater scale and accelerate that build-out.”
So what are the advices for other energy companies willing to make the shift from black to green?
”You need to set very ambitious decarbonisation targets. Not just for 2050, where none of us might actually be alive to see whether these targets take effect, bur rather set mid-term targets, 2023, 2025, and then work in partnerships with governments and investors to figure out how you can fund these movements which will help you reach your targets.”
Devapriyo Das wants every single business to understand that they can play a key role in reaching the sustainable development goals by delivering sustainable, scalable and affordable solutions.
”And when they do that, that would also be a tremendous kick-start also for political will, because the more businesses can show that they can deliver this, the more politicians — I think — will also be convinced that they need to do what it takes to set the right conditions in place for the development of sustainable change in their economies.”
Written by Markus Lutteman
About the Devaprio Das and Ørsted
Ørsted develops, constructs and operates offshore and onshore wind farms, solar farms, energy storage facilities and bioenergy plants, and provides energy products to its customers. Headquartered in Denmark, Ørsted employs 6 500 people. In 2019, the group’s revenue was DKK 67.8 billion (EUR 9.1 billion).
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