Renewable Energy as a Competitive Advantage

Renewable Energy as a Competitive Advantage

With energy being one of the core pieces of conducting operations, power creation and consumption are important factors to consider. While oil and gas have traditionally been the most prominent, and will always hold a key part of energy creation, the rise of alternative methods of power creation has created the potential for energy diversification.The rise of renewable energy does not hold a negative indication for oil and gas, but rather a shift in where and how resources are being used.

Incorporating Renewable Energy into Your Supply Chain 

Generation through wind, geothermal, tidal, hydro, and solar are typical examples of renewable energy with countries around the world looking to them as methods of securing reliable, efficient, and clean energy. Renewable energy sources have seen huge strides in technical capabilities with countries able to operate off entirely renewable energy for extended periods of time. The most noteworthy example is Costa Rica, a global renewable energy leader, which was able to run their national grid 100% on renewables for 76 days straight in 2016. Iceland is another great example. Between geothermal and hydropower, the country can operate their national grid 100% on renewable energy. These countries can leverage population and geographic benefits to achieve these impressive results but this still demonstrates the advances being made in the field and the technology's capabilities.

Incorporating these technologies into supply chains will come with some difficulties that will require good change management. However, the adaptation of renewable energy into supply chains will enable further progress, ingenuity, and innovation throughout the industry. Wind and solar power creation at a facility will give the control of energy to the company owning the facility. This situation permits businesses to make educated choices on consumption, as well as the possibility of additional revenue streams selling energy back into the grid (depending on energy regulations in the business area). Beyond facilities, research and development are currently being conducted on electric vehicles which can be charged for deliveries while being loaded to reduce energy costs and cycle time.

Examples of Renewable Energy in Supply Chain

Walmart Canada

In 2010 Walmart Canada opened a sustainable fresh food distribution centre in Balzac, Alberta. The facility is quoted by Walmart Canada as being "60% more sustainable than traditional centres, equating to an estimated $4.8million in savings over five years."

The centre, which services over 104 stores across Western Canada, incorporates hydrogen fuel cell, wind/solar power, LED lighting, smart refrigeration, and high-efficiency Dock-Doors to achieve its energy savings.

Related: The Roadmap to Supply Chain Cost Reduction 

Virtuoso Electric

Based in Western Canada, Virtuoso Electric started in 2015 to "create a sustainable future through building preservation, green architecture, and smart design." While the company conducts all forms of electrical work, they specialize in solar panel installations, electric vehicle charging stations, and ‘Living Efficient Daily' audits where their team evaluates buildings and determine energy efficiency opportunities. Virtuoso conducts work in both residential and commercial settings and focuses on community initiatives to educate individuals about the benefits and capabilities of solar energy.

Implications of Renewable Energy in Supply Chains

Cost Savings

Local renewable power generation can create cost reductions through reliable energy without price fluctuations. Facilities that operate at a high-energy efficiency will often see a good turnaround on their investments and substantial long-term fiscal benefits.

Company Perception

Beyond financial implication, facilities that operate on renewable energy can be leveraged to increase a company's public perception. Businesses that make great strides to become and/or remain sustainable have a favourable perception to consumers. This good standing can be used to market the sustainable nature of an organization and attract business.

Although incorporating renewable energy into supply chains may pose challenges, the benefits of doing so do not go unnoticed. Companies everywhere are witnessing the advantages of utilizing renewables and being energy efficient. Renewable energy should not be overlooked because it can generate cost savings for businesses while creating an enhanced social perception.

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