By Dieter Holger
Unilever PLC (ULVR.LN) said Monday that it now uses 100% renewable grid electricity across five continents as it works to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030.
Renewable grid electricity powers the British-Dutch consumer goods giant's factories, offices, research and development sites, data centers, warehouses and distribution centers in Africa, Asia, Europe, South America and North America, Unilever said.
"We know that when businesses make these commitments, they send important market signals which support the development of the renewables industry," said Marc Engel, chief supply chain officer at Unilever.
Unilever said it achieved the goal by supporting local renewable energy providers and buying certificates linked to clean energy generation, called Renewable Energy Certificates or RECs. Corporate power purchase agreements--known as PPAs--and green electricity tariffs supplied 38% of the electricity.
The program hasn't resulted in any net-on-net costs because savings from mechanisms such as "PPAs have counterbalanced additional costs," Unilever said.
Since 2008, the company has slashed its total energy consumption by 28% and halved emissions per metric ton of goods produced as it added on-site solar power, Unilever said.
Looking ahead, Unilever's next challenge is to directly source all of its energy from renewables by 2030, Mr. Engel said. He said the first step is improving energy efficiency for heating, adding that the company is also exploring so-called zero-carbon fuels such as biomass, biogas and hydrogen.
Biomass boilers are already in use at many facilities while others are at early stages of development, Mr. Engel said.
Write to Dieter Holger at firstname.lastname@example.org; @dieterholger