Ørsted chief calls for ‘high pace’ climate and SDG action

Danish energy giant Ørsted's chief executive has highlighted the severe threats of climate change and the unique opportunities of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the company's latest sustainability report, which outlined the company's transition away from fossil fuels.

Ørsted, formerly DONG Energy, released its first sustainability report since the name change, earlier this week. The report outlines that over the past decade, the Danish company had reduced its coal use by 82% – with a 100% reduction targeted for 2023 – while sourcing 64% of heat and power generation from renewables – with a target to source more than 95% in place for 2023.

As part of his speech to accompany the report, Ørsted’s chief executive Henrik Poulsen noted the need to transition to clean energy sources, a claim backed by the 23 offshore windfarms currently owned by the company.

“The world is in the middle of a global climate crisis. It is not a distant threat,” Poulsen said. “The planet is already feeling the grave impact of climate change. And truth be told, we are still not doing enough to secure the planet for generations to come. We need to transform the global energy systems from black to green energy at a high pace.

“Ørsted’s vision is a world that runs entirely on green energy. It is deeply rooted in what we do and who we are as a company. We want to be a company that provides real, tangible solutions to one of the world’s most difficult and urgent problems.”

The company has a 2023 goal to reduce carbon emissions by 96% against a 2006 baseline and use 100% certified sustainable biomass for CHP plants by 2020. The latest report notes that Ørsted has reduced emissions by 67% since 2006, and currently sources 72% certified biomass.

For emissions, Ørsted noted that its science-based reduction target is not only in line with the Paris Agreement, but is actually 27 years ahead of the reduction trajectory for the sector.

The goals are all aligned to the United Nation’s SDGs, with an emphasis on goal 7 (clean and affordable energy) and goal 13 (climate action).

“At Ørsted, we are committed to running our business in a way that creates progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals,” Poulsen added. “The 17 goals express a global agreement of society’s greatest challenges towards 2030. We especially focus on goal no. 7 on clean and affordable energy and goal no. 13 on climate action.”

Last year, Ørsted completely divested its upstream oil and gas business, as part of the pledge to phase-out coal from its heat and power generation by 2023. The company is also relaying this transition onto customers.

The firm announced that it will offer UK businesses the chance to purchase renewable electricity at a subsidised rate, by absorbing cost premiums to ensure that green energy prices are no higher than traditional “brown energy” sources.

Hornsea One

Ørsted’s sustainability report was published on the same week that the company began construction on the world’s biggest wind farm; the Hornsea One project off the Yorkshire coast. By 2020, the 1.2GW project is expected to deliver enough electricity to power more than one million homes.

The project will also be followed by the bigger Hornsea Two wind farm. The 1.3GW wind farm was granted a final investment decision last September.

Matt Mace

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