RWE’s $2bn green bond and British tennis’s water bottle refills: The sustainability success stories of the week

Published every week, this series charts how businesses and sustainability professionals are working to achieve their ‘Mission Possible’ across the campaign’s five key pillars – energy, resources, infrastructure, mobility and sustainability leadership.

Across the UK and across the world, leading businesses, cities, states and regions are turning environmental ambitions into action. Here, we round up five positive sustainability stories from this week.

ENERGY: Scottish renewable industry suppliers get funding boost


Image: Kent Plc. Pictured: The Beatrice wind farm

The UK Government is set to change its flagship renewable energy auction scheme, the Contracts for Difference (CfD) rounds, to pay developers a premium for ‘non-price factors’ such as supporting local suppliers and communities.

It is timely, then, that the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult has announced grant funding for 19 businesses in the north east of Scotland that provide parts, products and services to renewable energy developers.

Each of the previous 110+ recipients of the funding, which comes from the UK and Scottish Governments through the ‘Fit For Offshore Renewables North East’ programme, have seen an average 28% increase in turnover. As well as funding, each firm is eligible to receive practical support for a minimum of 12 months.

Scotland’s Energy Transition Zone, a government-backed not-for-profit company, has supported the ORE Catapult in this programme. Zone supply chain programme manager Freda Miller said: “The advice and expertise given to companies is of true quality and benefits the companies greatly during the process in achieving granted status and beyond.  We have had great feedback from participating companies in achieving fantastic results in the offshore wind industry.”

RESOURCES: Single-use plastic water bottles removed from Britain’s biggest summer tennis events


Image: David Parry / PA Media Assignments

Eagle-eyed watchers of Wimbledon 2023 will have noticed that players did not use single-use plastic water bottles. Long-time sponsor evian instead made the switch to prefilled reusable bottles on Centre Court and Court No.1.

Building on this, the first non-single-use water brand sponsorship for tennis in Great Britain has been struck. BRITA is now officially the water partner for the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA). As such, we can expect to see players, staff and spectators switching to reusable bottles and water dispensers at tennis events at Queen’s, Eastbourne, Birmingham and Nottingham this summer.

It is estimated that the change will eliminate the use of 100,000 single-use bottles this year alone. The partnership builds on work already underway to introduce reusable cups for purchased beverages at LTA events.

“We are delighted to have BRITA on board, the first ever non-single-use water brand to sponsor tennis in Britain, with this partnership demonstrating the viability of sustainable alternatives for major sporting events and, by taking a huge stride towards eliminating single-use plastic from our events, underlining the LTA’s ambition to be a leader in sport for sustainability,” said the LTA’s chief executive Scott Lloyd.

MOBILITY: UPS opens its first UK-based electric ‘micro hub’


The ‘last mile’ phase of transporting goods to customers accounts for around one-third of the logistics sector’s CO2 emissions. The sector is therefore having to innovate to low-carbon solutions in line with national net-zero targets, bearing in mind also other factors such as emissions tariffs imposed by cities or regions.

As it works to halve the carbon intensity of delivering a small package by 2035, against a 2020 baseline, UPS has established a central dispatch point for packages delivered across Cambridge’s city centre, from which electric-assisted quad cycles will operate.

The ‘micro hub’ has been touted as the first of its kind in the UK. Deliveries made prior to the introduction of the hub were typically made with diesel vans. A benefit in addition to reducing emissions is the fact that the smaller vehicles can access places where cars and trucks are restricted.

UPS’s director of sustainability for the EMEAI region, Artur Denk, said: “As cities worldwide adopt eco-friendly transportation measures, such as low-emission and zero-emission zones, we are at the forefront, aligning our operations with more sustainable solutions. The Cambridge hub is evidence of our dedication to serving customers and communities while reducing our footprint on the ground.”

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: Low-carbon affordable housing planned for Essex


By some estimates, the UK needs to add 145,000 new affordable homes each year this decade. And all homes built from 2025 will need to comply with the Future Homes Standard, intended to prevent new housing from undermining the delivery of legally binding national climate targets in the future.

This week saw Legal & General Affordable Homes (LGAH) partnering with Essex-based construction firm Rose Builders to deliver 44 new affordable homes in Thundersley, 90% of which will meet LGAH’s definition of properties which are net-zero carbon in operations.

The development is due for completion next April and will include 25 three-bedroom homes and 19 two-bedroom homes. All homes will be built to EPC ‘A’ energy efficiency standards and will include solar panels and an electric vehicle (EV) charging point. Each property will also benefit from an air-source heat pump.

Construction work is due to commence in the coming weeks.

Rose Builders’ development director Sam Brown said: “This project aligns with our core values of community service and sustainable quality development. We are committed to delivering new homes that not only meet the housing needs of residents but also contribute positively to the environment.”

SUSTAINABILITY LEADERSHIP: RWE raises $2bn for first bond in US dollars


Green bond issuance has grown exponentially over the past years, from both governments and corporates. While volumes dipped slightly in 2022 and did not recover completely last year, the overarching trend is clear to see.

Multinational German energy firm RWE announced on Friday (12 April) the successful issuance of a $2bn green bond package, issued in two tranches – one with a 10-year tenor and the other with a 30-year tenor. The order book was more than three times oversubscribed.

Proceeds from the bond package, which is RWE’s first to be placed outside of Europe, will be used to expand investment in onshore wind, offshore wind, solar, batteries and hydrogen in the US. RWE hopes to bring its cumulative US-based renewables and battery investments past the $20bn mark by the end of the decade.

Installed renewable energy and battery energy storage capacity in the US is set to expand rapidly in the coming years due to the multi-billion-dollar package of support provided to clean energy industries under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

RWE’s CEO Michael Muller said: “Going forward, we plan to be a regular issuer in both Euro and US markets. The US stands as our largest market outside of Europe where we have more than doubled our net installed capacity since 2020 to 9GW today.”

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