Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) recently reported that 8 out of 10 Australian consumers believe big business should be using more renewable energy. In addition, the report states that more than three-quarters of consumers said they would choose a product or service made with renewable energy over a comparable one that wasn’t. Conversely, 57% of corporates surveyed think that customers have no expectations around renewables.

These statistics cast doubt on whether Australian businesses are listening to their customers when it comes to integrating renewable energy in their operations.

The landscape of today’s changing markets often means that the competition is just a click away. It’s therefore imperative that businesses rapidly address changing customer needs and behaviour. As a result, many of the world’s leading brands such as Microsoft, Apple, IKEA, Walmart, Nestle, Johnson & Johnson and Nike are placing it at the heart of what they do and aiming to procure 100% of their energy from renewable sources.

ARENA states, “In a world where trust in business is falling, and pressure for good behaviour and transparency is rising, a social licence is no longer simply a ‘nice to have’, but a necessity. Businesses that can build renewables into their core business strategy, and communicate that to customers, should find themselves at a competitive advantage to their peers that do not.”

Australian businesses are progressively turning to renewables because it makes good business sense to do so. The strength of the business case for renewables is often driven by savings in operating costs supporting fast pay-back periods and strong ROI’s when compared to traditional energy.

Not only do renewables deliver cheaper energy, they can help companies manage the risks associated with the unpredictable gas and electricity prices and supply in Australia enabling businesses to gain greater control over energy costs. They can also help businesses strengthen their social licence to operate, meet customer needs and distinguish their brand. To prove the point, the report also found that almost 90% of businesses that currently use renewable energy in their mix intend to implement more.

With over 80% of companies prioritising Solar PV as a part of their planning to increase their uptake of renewables, solar PV stands out as the most straightforward technology supported by the strongest business case. Businesses say they prefer solar because of its quicker financial break-even compared to other technologies, as well as its ease of installation and long equipment life cycle. With a 58% drop in the cost of solar PV Between 2010 to 2015, it is no surprise that businesses are capitalising on the considerable medium to long-term benefits of solar. In fact, in most countries solar will be the lowest cost generation technology by 2030, accounting for almost half of the new generating capacity added.

While the benefits of renewable energy are unquestionably clear, we are just starting to catch on in Australia with the report stating that almost 50% of Australian businesses are using some form of renewable energy. However, it also says that more than half of corporates that don’t use renewable energy have no current intention to start. While some said they had weighed up the costs and benefits and decided against it and others had said they are yet to reach a decision on it, the majority admitted that they have just not considered renewables as an option. It seems that many businesses are yet to realise the very real business opportunity that renewables can deliver.

For the full report see: https://arena.gov.au/news/australian-big-business-missing-renewable-energy-opportunities/

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