18/02/2020 – News / Renewables / Orsted / Denmark / Sustainability / Energy / Decarbonisation

Ørsted’s remarkable transformation earns it world’s most sustainable business accolade

Henrik Poulsen, CEO of Ørsted

Danish energy firm Ørsted is the world's most sustainable company, according to the recently announced Global 100 ranking. Having completed a fundamental business transformation from fossil fuels to renewables over the past decade, Ørsted is now urging all countries and companies to reduce their carbon emissions to help limit global warming to 1.5ºC.

The global leader in offshore wind outperformed over 7,300 global companies with more than US$1bn revenues to rank number-one in research firm Corporate Knights' widely respected 2020 index of the Global 100 most sustainable corporations in the world – announced this year on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos. In so doing, Ørsted becomes the first-ever energy company to top the index.

 

The firm said that ranking as the most sustainable company in the world is “recognition of its strategic and fundamental business transformation from fossil fuels to green energy over the past decade”. 

 

From fossil fuel to green energy

 

“We're immensely proud to rank as the world's most sustainable company. From our origins as a traditional fossil fuel-based energy company, we've transformed into one of the largest renewable energy companies in the world,” enthused Henrik Poulsen, CEO of Ørsted. “Every day, we deliver green energy solutions at scale to combat climate change – the defining challenge of our time."

 

Since 2006, the company has reduced carbon emissions from its energy generation and operations by 83 per cent and will be essentially carbon-neutral by 2025. Today, the offshore wind farms built by Ørsted bring green power to more than 13 million people, and Ørsted aims to grow that number to 50 million people by 2030.

 

Significant business growth, dramatic carbon reductions

 

Ørsted's ability to significantly grow its business, while substantially reducing its carbon emissions, has proved central to attaining the top rank in the Global 100 index.

 

The Danish company decided to change its business model a decade ago, realising that having fossil fuels as its core business would not be sustainable in the long-term. The company has since been instrumental in driving the build-out of offshore wind at industrial scale and has grown to be the world leader in offshore wind and one of the fastest growing energy companies in the world. 

 

Spearheading global transition to green energy

 

Offshore wind is now significantly cheaper than newly built coal- or gas-fired power plants in most parts of the world, making it a key technology in the global transition to green energy. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), offshore wind has the potential to provide green power to hundreds of millions of people. However, almost 75 per cent of all global greenhouse gas emissions still come from fossil-based energy, and carbon emissions continue to rise.

 

“While we're grateful to be named the most sustainable company in the world, we'd prefer to see the world develop more sustainably,” Mr Poulsen admitted. “Global greenhouse gas emissions have been rising for decades and are now at their highest level ever. We have no time to lose if we want to halt global warming and halve global emissions by 2030 as recommended by science.”

 

He continued that we already have the necessary green technologies at hand to transform the world's energy systems. “Countries and businesses must work together and take bold steps to speed up the green transformation, reduce their emissions and limit global warming to 1.5ºC,” he told us. “As I see it, we owe it to the current and not least future generations.”

 

Green energy: “Keystone” of business strategy

 

When Ørsted set its first decarbonisation target 10 years ago, the company estimated it would take 30 years to transform from fossil fuels to renewables. Since then, carbon reduction and green transformation has become the ‘North Star’ of Ørsted's strategy, helping the firm make this fundamental transformation in just a decade.

 

With a clear plan to achieve essentially carbon-neutral energy generation and operations, Ørsted is now embarking on the next frontier in its decarbonisation journey by launching a new programme for reducing carbon emissions in its supply chain.

 

“We're strengthening collaboration with our biggest and most important suppliers to work with them on reducing their emissions in line with science and to encourage them to run their operations on green energy,” revealed Mr Poulsen.

 

“Ørsted has become a sustainable and profitable business by making green energy deployment the keystone of our business strategy. Companies that do not take action now to decarbonise run the risk of seeing their business models come under pressure in the future. We encourage all companies to make decarbonisation a core part of their strategy."

 

The progress in Ørsted's decarbonisation programme is demonstrated in the company's jumps up the Global 100 ranking: from 70th in 2018, to 4th in 2019, and 1st in 2020.

 

Ørsted's decarbonisation journey continues

 

By 2023, Ørsted will finalise phase out of coal from its portfolio of combined heat and power plants, to run on certified sustainable biomass.

 

By 2025, the firm expects to have achieved 98-per-cent carbon reduction in energy generation and operations compared to 2006, making Ørsted “essentially carbon-neutral”. The current reduction figure stands at 83 per cent.

 

Also by 2025, Ørsted’s company car fleet will be 100-per-cent electric.

 

By 2032, the firm will have reduced emissions in the supply chain and from energy trading by 50 per cent (compared with 2018 figures). This will entail engaging suppliers to increase the share of green power in manufacture, transport and installation of components for offshore wind farms and a gradual reduction in fossil gas trading, the company told us.

 

To view the entire Global 100 ranking, visit: www.corporateknights.com/reports/2020-global-100/

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