Climate Protection: Companies Must Take the Lead
The European elections once again made it clear that climate protection is becoming a central issue for more and more people. This is hardly surprising, given the effects of climate change are becoming increasingly evident, also in industrialized countries. Even after the EU elections, effective countermeasures by politicians are not yet in sight. This means that it is all the more important that companies take the initiative. At SMA, sustainability and climate protection have been part of the company’s DNA since its foundation. It is simply not enough to develop solutions for renewable energy generation. The way in which they are manufactured, used and disposed of is also crucial.
Last year, 52 million tons of CO2 were saved by using solar power produced by SMA inverters. I consider that a substantial amount. However, there are a few other figures that to me are just as important: We increased the share of self-produced solar power in SMA’s total electricity consumption in Germany from 33 percent to 40 percent in 2018, with the share of total regionally produced renewable electricity rising from 70 percent to 87 percent. The remaining 13 percent comes from renewable sources outside the region. Our goal is to also replace these with regionally produced renewable electricity as of 2020.
High standards for effective climate protection
Just as essential for climate protection as the use of renewable energies is that we use energy as efficiently as possible. For this reason, we have set ourselves ambitious targets early on as well as established effective energy management at SMA. In the building of our Solar Academy, which functions independently from the utility grid, we train installers in photovoltaics, storage systems and energy management, and at the same time show them that, even in Germany, it is possible to supply a building with renewable energies, completely independently from the utility grid.
We are also one of the few inverter manufacturers to have its own production facilities. Many of our competitors have their products manufactured exclusively via external production in low-wage countries. In the SMA production buildings at the German headquarters, we can manufacture inverters with a total capacity of up to 15 GW every year. In the two factories, we produce our inverters in a manner that is extremely energy-efficient, CO2 neutral and that meets the highest quality standards. We had already received several awards for this, including the international Energy Efficiency Award from the German Energy Agency (dena).
High quality and longevity also mean sustainability
The high quality and longevity of our products is also an important aspect of sustainability, because high-quality inverters can be relied upon to do their duty over the years, even under the harshest conditions. This benefits both our customers and the environment. What’s more, our own PV systems contribute to both our electricity supply and quality assurance of our inverters. We test new models in these under real conditions. This is another thing that hardly another manufacturer can do.
However, I believe that it is important that not only the company is committed to sustainability and climate protection, but that our employees are, too. Another figure from last year shows that this is the case, with SMA employees saving 58 tons of CO2 by driving electric cars to and from work and charging them with renewable electricity at 45 charging stations on the company premises. Our bike and electric car leasing options are also hugely popular.
Sustainability and climate protection as success factors
I think that what we at SMA are doing for climate protection is quite impressive. However, we are not going to rest on past achievements. In the long term, we would ideally like to apply our high standards to the entire value chain — in terms of not only climate protection, but also other sustainability issues such as human rights, resource efficiency, waste prevention and recycling, which are very important to us.
At the same time, I also consider it important to maintain the pressure on politicians to promote climate protection. This is why I have joined the #EntrepreneursForFuture and actively pursue education in social media and in political conversations.
I’m firmly convinced that sustainability and climate protection will become increasingly important success factors for the company and that SMA’s commitment to sustainability pays off. After all, our customers deserve products that live up to their high standards of sustainability and quality – consistently and across the entire value chain.
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