Unilever has converted its entire UK operations to renewable energy, after agreeing a contract to source wind power from a wind farm in the Scottish Highlands.
The consumer goods giant will obtain 165GWh – or 87% of the farm’s total output – from renewable energy company Eneco UK, which owns the site. The remaining 24GWh of power will be sold under a retail tariff to local communities in the surrounding area.
The contract builds on an existing agreement with Eneco in the Netherlands, where, since January, a wind farm in the North Sea has helped power Unilever’s offices and factories. The latest contract also follows Unilever UK’s commitment to using biomethane to power five sites in the UK and Ireland. Both partnerships mean all of Unilever UK’s manufacturing sites source 100% of their electricity from certified renewable sources, which the Anglo-Dutch company said would ‘help deliver long-term value and advance the company’s wider carbon reduction commitment’.
Unilever UK sustainable business and 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.”
And Nigel McManus, head of Eneco Energy Trade UK, added: “The power generated by the Lochluichart Wind Farm will supply dedicated renewable power to the majority of Unilever UK sites for years to come. We will also assist Unilever to engage with the upcoming smart, flexible energy market to further reduce their costs and carbon footprint.”
In November 2015, Unilever outlined its ambition to become carbon positive, meaning that it aims to generate more renewable energy than it consumes. The ambition, part of Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan, includes sourcing 100% of the company’s total energy usage from renewable sources by 2030.
It will also eliminate coal from its energy mix by 2020 and ensure that surplus energy is made available to the markets and communities in which it operates.
Together with Coca-Cola and Tesco’s separate commitments, it underlines the business case for companies to make the renewable switch.