Top 5 SDG tips for renewable energy businesses

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Renewables - An economic “hotspot” in COVID times

It’s an incredibly exciting time to be working in the Renewable Energy sector. The demand for green, clean energy is on an unstoppable upward trajectory driven by the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal to build a net-zero carbon emission economy by 2050. 

But it’s not just a lofty ambition. Prices for renewables are dropping, demand is rising and not even the COVID pandemic has been able to stop market growth. Solar PV and onshore wine are now the cheapest ways of adding new electricity in most countries today. Renewables are expected to make up 95% of the increase in global power capacity through 2025. And governments around the world are calling for green economic stimulus measures, banning coal and setting ambitious clean-energy targets, likely to give the renewable energy market an extra boost in the post-COVID recovery.

Keeping a “sustainability” mindset

Renewables projects come with their own set of sustainability risks, albeit less condemning than those of the oil and coal industries. Minimizing raw material extractions and creating closed-loop production cycles will be critical. As with all large infrastructure projects, concerns of human and land rights violations, as well as potential environmental disruption can arise. 

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offer a useful framework to understand the risks and opportunities of the renewable energy sector. By speaking the language of the SDGs, companies can show how they are working on sustainability topics that matter and connect with a global ecosystem of sustainability problem-solvers and leaders. 

The SDGs that matter in the Renewables sector

Welcome to this Impacti briefing on “The SDGs that matter in the Renewables sector”. Here you will learn about the most material topics for the renewables sector based on an analysis of key competitors in this sector, industry trends, and emerging studies. This briefing is designed to offer an initial guide to help your company get started on deciding where to focus, what actions to take and how to measure your impact. 

What Industries:
SDG 7 - Advance clean & renewable energy

SDG 7 calls for a substantial increase of renewable energy in the global energy mix. All renewables companies - from solar, wind, biofuels, hydroelectric and other renewables -  play a front and centre role in achieving this vision. This is the most obvious way that the Renewables sector contributes to the SDGs - but companies can go further by checking out the rest of this list to see how to do so in ways that minimize risks & maximize opportunities.  

What KPIs can you track?

  • Increase total capacity of renewable energy systems (MW)
  • Increase total investments in renewable energy assets ($)
SDG 8 - Create renewable energy jobs

Renewable companies are recognized for creating jobs and boosting local worker incomes. An estimated 11.5 million people work in the Renewables sector, from large-scale clean energy projects, delivering off-grid energy solutions and agro-processing of biofuels. As renewable energy demand grows, an “talent crisis” is a growing threat to the Renewables sector while at the same time fossil fuel workers face job losses. One way to avert this scenario leverage the transferable skills of fossil fuel workers, many of whom are ready and willing to retrain to join the renewables sector.

What KPIs can you track?

  • Increase total jobs created in renewables sector
  • Increase total employees recruited from local communities
  • Increase total people offered re-skilling training from fossil fuel sector
SDG 5 - Support equal opportunity for women

Workplaces in the renewables sector tend to have better gender balance than fossil fuels -  women hold 32% of renewables jobs but only 21% of fossil fuels jobs. But the quality still varies - women hold 45% of administrative jobs but only 28% of technical STEM-related jobs in the Renewables sector. Your company can lead change to build a more inclusive Renewables industry by recruiting women into technical roles, offering women better access to training and driving organizational change to tackle gender bias.

What KPIs can you track?

  • Increase women employees in workforce
  • Increase women employees in STEM-related roles
SDG 9 - Transition to zero-waste energy production

Renewables is facing growing criticisms about the “waste” problem across the sector. Solar, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal installations require significant raw material inputs and ongoing maintenance through their lifetime. And end-of-life disposal is a critical risk issue for all Renewables, especially when it comes to batteries and chemical substances that can pollute waterways and threaten human health. Innovative companies, like Vesta, are developing a “life-cycle” mindset and finding ways to create “closed-loop” systems that eliminate wastes, optimize recyclability and repurpose materials through the value chain.

What KPIs can you track?

  • Increase volume of material recycled/repurposed at end-of-life
  • Increase product durability and lifespan
  • Decrease disposed units per year due to modular design and repairs
SDG 7 - Increase access to energy

789 million people globally lack access to reliable and modern electricity. Finding ways to make energy grids more stable and costs more affordable is a huge market opportunity. Energy entrepreneurs are key to getting reliable and clean energy solutions to the “last-mile” in remote areas, especially at the schools and hospitals people depend on. 

What KPIs can you track?

  • Increase the number of households/schools/hospitals with improved access to electricity
  • Increase the number of households with clean cooking and fuel solutions
  • Reduce the cost per kWH for the first 30 kWH of consumption per month
  • Reduce the average hours of power outages per month

In Conclusion

There you have it - our Top 5 SDG risks and opportunities for companies in the Renewables sector. If this has peaked your interest, join the Impacti platform to learn about more SDG risks and opportunities that may be relevant to your Renewables operations and projects:

  • Meeting industry best practice on ensuring ethical business practices (SDG 16) and workplace health and safety (SDG 8), 
  • Reducing risks on biodiversity and wildlife (SDG 15) and local and indigenous communities (SDG 1) and 
  • Finding opportunities to build diverse and inclusive workforces (SDG 10), and partnerships that make impact at scale (SDG 17)

Get in touch

Good luck on your journey to make sustainability your business! Want to learn more about how to create your company’s first SDG reporting to showcase the good you do? Here at Impacti, we've developed a SaaS technology solution designed especially for small and medium businesses to make SDG action simple. Sign up now to get instant access or book a demo with our experts to learn more.