ACHIEVING A CARBON NEUTRAL OPERATIONAL FOOTPRINT
There is something unique about what we do at GE Renewable Energy. Our mission is to unleash limitless energy for the world, accelerating the global transition to renewable sources of clean power. Our customers and communities rely on us to ensure that no one ever has to choose between affordable, reliable, or sustainable energy. Yet we are not truly fulfilling our mission if our own activities in producing and installing renewable sources of power add CO2.
That is why in September 2019 we announced our pledge to make all our GE Renewable Energy operations – across wind, hydro, energy storage and grid – carbon neutral by the end of 2020. As part of our pledge, we will make changes in the ways we produce, transport, and power. We will deliver on our commitment by reducing emissions through operational efficiencies, securing renewable electricity supply to all GE Renewable Energy sites, and by balancing the remaining emissions with carbon offsets to achieve a carbon neutral footprint. The program marks a kick-off a multi-year transition of real decarbonization of GE Renewable Energy’s operations and value chain.
DELIVERING ON OUR COMMITMENT
We’re proud to announce that over the past year we reduced our carbon footprint through our own operations by 16 percent – a significant decrease in a single year that puts us on a strong path going forward. Although we did see some COVID-19 impact, the first year of our Carbon Neutral Program drove reductions from less SF6 leakage, energy efficiency and renewable electricity. All electricity consumed by GE Renewable Energy is 100% renewable electricity as of 2020. Finally, and only for the unavoidable emissions that remained, we offset emissions by purchasing carbon credits that fund emission reduction projects worldwide and supporting wider Sustainable Development Goals. While recognizing the value of carbon offsetting to deliver immediate large-scale impact, our focus and priority is on emission reductions in our value chain and we are in the process of setting specific reduction targets for our operational emissions and beyond.
MAPPING OUR FOOTPRINT
Our carbon neutral program is firmly rooted in data. To understand our impact and construct a firm baseline from which reduction opportunities could be identified, we measured the greenhouse gas emissions produced from our operational footprint and underwent 3rd party certification in line with The CarbonNeutral Protocol - the leading global framework for carbon neutrality.
The emissions included in GE Renewable Energy’s carbon neutrality pledge are our scope 1 and 2 emissions, as well as several scope 3 emissions – waste, employee commuting, business travel, fuel- and energy-related emissions and logistics. A significant portion of our emissions relates to transporting equipment to manufacturing facilities and project sites, followed by electricity consumption and direct greenhouse gas release – which mainly results from usage of SF6, a potent greenhouse gas that is already carefully managed in our Grid business.
GE Renewable Energy’s 2020 carbon footprint, location-based, excluding offsets
OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCIES AND GREEN ELECTRONS
The greenhouse gas accounting process revealed energy to be a major contributor to our footprint and therefore opportunity for credible and immediate emission reductions. Our most carbon intense sites are in the Grid, LM Wind Power and Hydro businesses which underwent independent energy efficiency audits to identify the most impactful reduction potential and associated actions. We implemented the most attractive projects, based on cost and CO2 savings – examples of which are installing LED lights and upgrading Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning equipment. And in our Grid business, we have implemented projects that finetune SF6 management, reducing leakage and ensuring a constant focus on an emissions hotspot in our operations. While delivering on our 2020 commitment, we have built a pipeline of future emission reduction projects as the next step in executing our longer-term lean and green transformation.
Powering our company by 100% renewable electricity is an integral part of our pledge and close to our core business identity as GE Renewable Energy. While Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) and on-site installations are complex to realize and long-term commitments, several projects were implemented in 2020 and more will go live in 2021. Most of our renewable energy, however, came from credible Energy Attribute Certificates (EACs) – a mix of renewable energy instruments and technologies, depending on geography where the electricity is consumed, and representing in excess of 200,000 tCO2e reductions compared to our baseline.
To compensate for unavoidable emissions and balance our footprint to net-zero, we secured the required carbon credits that fund emission reduction projects worldwide. The offsets are certified to the highest standards, including the Clean Development Mechanism, Verified Carbon Standard as well as the Gold Standard. Our portfolio is comprised of projects that have measurable impact on the Sustainable Development Goals and provide renewable energy access, install clean cookstoves or capture methane from landfill gas.
A specific example of a high-impact project in our portfolio is the REDD+ certified project in Indonesia that works with local communities to preserve soil that stores millions of tons of CO2. The project protects and restores over 140,000 hectares of peatland ecosystems by preventing the conversion of the area into industrial plantations of palm oil, which would release the large amounts of carbon and methane stored in the soil, as well as destroy the rich biodiversity.
The Green Team Network was formed in 2018 by a group of passionate employees who were inspired by GE Renewable Energy’s carbon neutrality commitment. Today, it has grown across GE, forming the newest company-wide Employee Resource Group (ERG) that connects and motivates hundreds of employees to get involved in and lead sustainability initiatives at their sites and in their communities. Through education, action, and best practice sharing, the Green Team Network takes a grassroots-driven approach to supporting and furthering GE’s sustainability goals, including GE’s commitment to achieve carbon neutrality in its operations and facilities by 2030. Members work across businesses, locally, regionally, and nationally, to connect and align objectives aimed at lowering GE’s carbon footprint.
READ HERE ABOUT GE’S WIDER SUSTAINABILITY EFFORTS