Making the Right Choices in Sustainable Energy Management

Sustainable energy management is a key issue for companies today. As long-term strategic thinkers, energy entrepreneurs need to be closely involved in these practices. They play an important role in guiding their organizations towards more sustainable energy choices. Energy entrepreneurs support efforts to reduce energy consumption with their in-depth knowledge of energy costs. They also guide managers towards making the right decisions for the use of renewable energy. Sustainability is about finding the right balance between a company's financial considerations and its impact on people and the planet. Energy entrepreneurs can have a significant impact on increasing profitability while decreasing the environmental impact of businesses. All too often companies shoot on sight in their sustainable energy management efforts, instead of taking a well-structured approach. This can lead to poorly performing investments and less carbon saved per euro or dollar invested. Sustainability considerations are often only addressed at a late stage, when contracts are about to be signed. This is unfortunate, as upstream involvement can lead to better choices, with more optimal results in financial and environmental terms. Energy buyers are often the implementers of the company's sustainability strategy when they receive instructions from the sustainability department on how to buy greener energy. That's unfortunate, because energy buyers are closer to market realities and better positioned to achieve your sustainable energy management goals. Strengthen your role as an energy entrepreneur within your company and become a key player in your company's sustainability efforts. Here are the different stages of sustainable energy management.

Step 1: Put in place a sustainable development strategy

An energy entrepreneur will always develop an effective sustainability strategy to underpin his or her actions. Sustainability efforts will produce better results if they are based on a solid and comprehensive strategy. These strategies set clear objectives and provide a coherent framework for using appropriate resources to achieve those objectives. A wide range of actors and stakeholders have an interest in the sustainable use of energy. These include your industry, customers, government authorities, investors, financial results, current and future employees, NGOs, the local community, suppliers, etc. Analysing what motivates their interest can lead to smart choices in sustainable energy management. For example:
  • what are the objectives to be set;
  • how to structure and finance your efforts to reduce consumption;
  • how to manage renewable energy and cogeneration projects on your website;
  • how to green your off-grid supply?
Some companies are embarking on their sustainable development initiatives by defining a sustainable energy management strategy. Others have already designed their sustainability strategy and simply need to refine the broader strategy for energy management. In all cases, an assessment of the strategy is a good starting point for a greener energy supply.

Step 2: Identify the most appropriate sustainable energy technologies

Solar panels, wind turbines, biomass projects, cogeneration and other renewable energies. Through a "scan" of sustainable energy technologies, you can find out which one makes the most sense for : achieve your sustainability goals; achieve good levels of performance on your sustainable development projects; improve your security of supply, for example in a decentralised region. Are you sure you're investing in green power generation in the right place? An analysis of sustainable energy technologies will help you optimize your green power investment choices. It will uncover the potential of your different websites in terms of : Savings: investment costs, potential savings on total energy costs, subsidies; technical aspects: availability of resources such as wind, solar or biomass, availability of project partners; regulatory aspects: obligations and possibilities/restrictions for obtaining permits. Sustainable energy technology analyses ensure a return on investment by identifying the most effective measures to be taken.

Step 3: Negotiate self-generation contracts

The negotiation of self-production contracts is often neglected. Contracts are signed without much negotiation or market research. The first project developer who walks through the door often gets the contract. This is unfortunate, as we have seen time and again that tendering and negotiating often results in significant improvements in contract terms. And that's a big saving, because these types of contracts are usually long-term. It is worth going further with this professional procurement approach. Before talking about a self-generation project, start by analyzing the inputs and outputs of cogeneration, for example. This will give you a solid basis for your tender. By putting yourself in a strong position, you decide what you want the market to offer you instead of passively accepting the first proposal sent in. This more commercial approach to self-production projects also leads to a different way of calculating the return on investment. A good knowledge of costs and revenues will result in better forecasts, as the increase or decrease in returns depending on the market is taken into account. Too many projects fail to achieve the expected rate of return because the initial calculation was based on overly optimistic forecasts of future energy costs or a lack of understanding of cost elements. E&C will help you to formulate a business case for self-generation that is more in line with market realities: "How do markets need to behave in order for you to achieve the desired rate of return? »

Step 4: Sell your green raw materials

More and more companies are engaging in green commodity trading. If you participate in an emissions trading scheme, you have a portfolio of carbon emission rights that you can trade. And if you produce green energy, you are eligible for tradable certificates. Setting up and executing a good green commodity trading strategy can significantly improve your return on investment. Integrating your green commodities strategy into your broader energy procurement strategy will result in a more business-focused approach to sustainability. Self-generation can also make you a seller of electricity or steam within your grid or to your neighbours. Strategies comparable to those used for energy supply should then be deployed to maximize the impact of your pricing/releasing decisions. A cogeneration unit may warrant spark-spread trading, where some of the gas you purchase is used to produce electricity which is then injected into the grid. All of this requires a well thought-out trading strategy.

Step 5: Buy Green Power

Greening your energy supply is a decision that is often taken lightly. A market for green electricity exists in many countries around the world, for example through the acquisition of certificates of origin. However, the real contribution of the purchase of such certificates to the reduction of carbon emissions can be questioned. You may therefore expose your company to accusations of "greenwashing". To avoid this, take a look at the different types of green energy supply products currently available on the market. Note, however, that these will be more expensive. On the basis of the stakeholder analysis of the sustainability strategy, E&C will help you to make the right choices to green your energy supply. We will then integrate our approach into all your energy contract negotiations.

Step 6: Monitor your carbon emissions

Your sustainability efforts should result in visible reductions in your carbon emissions. To account for these reductions, many companies are now implementing carbon monitoring. E&C can assist you in monitoring Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. Scope 1 concerns emissions resulting from on-site energy transformation processes or the use of fuels on site, while Scope 2 concerns the acquisition of energy produced off-site, as is the case for electricity consumed from the grid. We will integrate carbon monitoring with your financial control activities to ensure the optimal use of available data. Your ePoint portal will therefore serve as a single source of information on all aspects of your energy spending, including sustainable development.
Overview of the challenges of the 3 pillars of sustainable development
The three pillars of sustainable development

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