The global consumer goods firm became the dedicated beneficiary of energy sourced from a Scottish Highlands-based wind farm in April. The 23 turbines located in Lochluichart deliver 165GWh – 87% of the farms total output – of renewable electricity to 15 UK Unilever sites.

The excess 24GWh of power generated at the farm are also sold-off under a retail tariff to local communities. The new deal builds on Unilever’s previous agreement with Eneco in the Netherlands, which has seen a North Sea windfarm generate energy for Unilever since the New Year.

Both deals mean Unilever’s UK business now sources 100% of its electricity from certified renewable sources. Across its entire global business, Unilever generates 63% of its grid energy from renewable sources.

Unilever’s sustainable business communications director Yvette Edwards said: “It’s been an exciting start to the year in the UK where we are on a journey to improve the sustainability of our sites. This latest step in securing an in-country, sustainable supply of wind-generated energy is an important milestone in helping us meet our bold ambition of becoming carbon positive by 2030.  It’s made all the more significant as any surplus supply will be sold to nearby communities, thereby progressing our vision of making sustainable living commonplace.”

Sustainable Living Plan

In 2015, the company outlined new ambitions, including a target to become carbon positive. Unilever has vowed to source 100% of total energy across its operations from renewables by 2030 and source all electricity purchased from the grid from renewables by 2020.

These targets from part of Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan, which also pledges to eliminate coal from its energy mix by 2020 and directly support the generation of more renewable energy than it consumes. Excess renewable energy will support local markets and communities.

Almost a year on from the formation of the carbon positive goal, Unilever signed a contract to use biomethane to power five of its sites across the UK and Ireland. Offices in Leatherhead (Surrey) and 100 Victoria Embankment (London), and the group’s food and drink factories in Norwich, Trafford Park and Cork, are now making use of 10,000MWh of biomethane to power the sites’ heating, significantly reducing carbon emissions.

Since the launch of the Sustainable Living Plan in 2010, the global fast-moving consumer goods company has cut its manufacturing greenhouse gas footprint by 39% per tonne of production – the equivalent of one million tonnes of CO2 a year.

Commenting on Unilever’s carbon positive ambitions, Eneco’s country director Zoisa Walton said: “Eneco is proud to partner with Unilever to provide a solution to its 2030 ambition to become carbon positive. We are committed to working with companies in realising their sustainable energy ambitions as well as the local community through our partnership with Cooperative Energy on the ‘Highlands and Mearns Wind’ tariff. It is a good example of Eneco’s mission to provide sustainable energy for everyone.”

Matt Mace

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