Nestlé joins other major companies to invest in sustainable energy

Corporations investing in sustainable energy is no longer a PR exercise as it may have been a decade or so ago. It is now showing that the renewable energy sector is mainstream. Pilita Clark writes a good column in the Financial Times about a major investment in wind power by the world’s leading nutrition, health and wellness company, Nestlé.

 

Nestlé buys into Scottish wind power

Nestlé has joined Ikea, Google and a string of other companies investing in green electricity by signing a deal to buy 15 years worth of power from a Scottish wind farm.

The maker of KitKat chocolate bars and Nescafé instant coffee has agreed to buy electricity from a wind farm being built near the town of Sanquhar in the southwest of Scotland.

Once completed next year, the farm will produce enough electricity annually for nearly 30,000 homes. Nestlé says that will be equal to half the company’s power needs in the UK and Ireland, where it has 13 factories.

The company declined to say how much it would be paying for the electricity generated by the nine-turbine project, which is being built by UK wind company, Community Windpower.

But it expects to save a considerable amount over the 15-year lifetime of the agreement, which locks in a power price for much longer than the deals Nestlé normally does for its UK electricity purchases.

“The rate is very competitive in the short term but it will actually make significant economic sense in the medium to long term,” said Andrew Griffiths, head of environmental sustainability at Nestlé in the UK and Ireland.

The wind farm in Scotland will not be directly hooked up by a cable to any of Nestle’s factories or offices. Its electricity will be fed into the main grid in the same way that a conventional gas or coal generator exports its power.

Community Windpower said it hoped more companies would do the same because it boosted the customer base for green power.

“It’s a great deal for us,” said Rod Wood, managing director of Community Windpower, which has eight wind farms operating or under construction, all in Scotland.

The Sanquhar wind farm is being built with the help of renewable energy subsidies that the UK government is phasing out for onshore wind farms, projects opposed by many Conservative party MPs and some local communities.

Mr Griffiths said Nestlé wanted to keep finding ways to boost green electricity, regardless of whether subsidies existed.

The company has already signed up to a global initiative called RE100, aimed at encouraging big businesses to get 100 per cent of their electricity from renewable sources to help combat climate change.

Nestlé has an internal target to reduce its UK carbon footprint by 40 per cent by 2020, a goal it says will be reached or exceeded well ahead of schedule.

A growing number of large companies have invested in renewable power over the past five years, including Google, Ikea, General Motors, Walmart and Lockheed Martin.

Some have bought wind and solar farms outright while others have done long-term power purchasing agreements like the one Nestle has signed, including BT in the UK.

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