Australians want businesses to adopt renewable energy

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Big businesses are seemingly out of touch with their clients, with many Australians saying they would reward them if they made the switch to renewable energy.

A recent study by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) found that the majority of businesses did not believe that their clients expect them to adopt renewable energy, but the opposite is actually true.

The survey also found that less than half (46%) of businesses were actively procuring renewables. Those that do use renewables do not actually use very much of it, with only 10 % of their total use coming from alternative power sources.

80% of Australians believe big businesses should use renewable energy

This contrasts starkly with the fact that four out five Australians believe that businesses should use renewables and that three-quarters of us would prefer to buy a product that was made out of this source of generation over one that wasn’t.

ARENA commissioned research to understand why Australian businesses appear to be falling behind their global peers in adopting renewable energy and to help business leaders to drive change.

More than 90 of Australia’s largest public and private companies were surveyed to find out whether Australia’s biggest businesses are embracing renewable energy, what’s holding them back or propelling them forward, and their plans for the future.

Australian companies appear to be lagging behind their global peers. Seven of world’s largest companies plan to be 100 per cent powered by renewable energy in the long term. In the US, nearly two ­thirds of Fortune 100 and nearly half of Fortune 500 companies have set ambitious renewable energy or sustainability targets.

A number of Australian companies are leading the way in renewable energy, including Telstra, which recently announced a deal to build a 70MW solar farm, and zinc refiner Sun Metals which is building a 116MW solar farm in Queensland.

Arena identifies widening gap in renewable energy uptake

However, the report highlights a widening gap between those businesses that are going renewable and those that aren’t. While most companies not using renewable energy had no plans to, those which were already using renewables plan to use more.

The findings also suggest there is confusion and misconceptions about the cost and benefits of renewable energy among Australia’s business leaders.

Many Australian businesses also appear to be out of step with the attitudes of consumers. Most companies surveyed (57 per cent) believed their customers had no expectation around renewable energy.

However, an IPSOS poll of over 1,000 Australians commissioned by ARENA found 80 per cent of Australians believe big business should be using renewable energy.

More than three quarters (76 per cent) of Australians would choose a product or service made with renewable energy over a comparable one that wasn’t. Four of ten indicated they would be willing to pay a premium.

Companies can benefit greatly from adopting renewable energy

renewable energy
ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht

ARENA Chief Executive Officer Ivor Frischknecht said that Australian companies could benefit greatly from adopting renewables.

“The benefit for big business is substantial. Consumers are more likely to reward companies that take the plunge with greater loyalty and higher tolerance of price fluctuations that may come with renewable energy procurement. Using renewables helps create a positive impression of a business.” Mr Frischknecht said.

“If companies stand on the sidelines for too long, they risk falling behind their competitors in terms of saving on energy costs, reaching sustainability targets and meeting changing customer expectations.” CEC Chief Executive Kane Thornton said there was a strong business case for investing in renewable energy.

“With the cost of renewable energy falling so rapidly this decade and public support so strong, investing in clean energy is really a win­-win for Australian businesses.

“The business sector is starting to switch on to the fact that the smart money is now in renewables as a way to address rising and volatile power prices. ARENA’s work over the last few years has clearly shown there is an appetite among agribusiness operations, miners, telcos and many more to invest in clean energy and storage once they begin to realise the cost savings available and the expectations of their customers.”

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