Companies taking the lead towards renewable energy

Figure 1: News article in The Japan Times

Sustainability has slowly emerged and become a major topic of concern. At the 2015 Paris climate change accord, countries agreed to control and restricting the global temperature rise. Companies around the world have to adopt sustainable business policies to increase their value and stay part of the market (Sustainable Business Network, (n.d.)). On September 10th, The Japan Times* published an article on Sony’s renewable energy plans (Sony plans to power global operations with renewables by 2040, 2018).

Sony Corporation, one of Japan’s well-established multinational company, has decided to achieve 100% renewable energy consumption in all of its global operations by 2040. Though its European sites has already achieved using 100% green energy. However, the sites in Japan and Thailand are behind in such green initiatives, due to the high investment cost. Besides, Japan is the company’s main power consumption site and even hosts seven semiconductor plants. (The Japanese Times, 2018)

Sony has plans for installation of solar panels in both Japan and Thailand operation sites, intending to increase the renewable energy usage from 5% in 2017 to 30% in 2030. Despite their concerns towards the raising cost, they believe this is a good opportunity to add value to the company. In conjunction with this plan, they have also join RE100 and work on the solutions to lowering the cost of renewable energy with other partners. (The Japanese Times, 2018)

RE100 is a collaboration of influential businesses to move towards a low carbon economy by the usage of 100% green electricity. In total 144 companies have joined this movement (RE100, (n.d.)). Sony recently joined the RE100 (Hill, 2018). The advantage is that the companies share their practices knowledge and learn from each other. Additionally, this group of frontrunners has an inspiring purpose for other companies, which adds to their image as being a sustainable company. (RE100, (n.d.))

Sony already made some steps towards sustainability. The Sony operations in Europe rely for 100% on green energy (Sony plans to power global operations with renewables by 2040, 2018). They aim to have a global CO2 reduction of 300,00 tons in 2020 (see figure 2) (Sony, 2018).

Figure 2: Overview CO2 reductions Sony in the past years.

Besides, Sony plans to install solar panels at the factories in Japan and Thailand. However, installation of solar panels requires a great surface area to capture significant amounts of energy. Sony did not reveal any cost estimation and specific information on the timeframe for this plan. Thus the feasibility of this plan cannot be examined.

Renewable energy does contribute towards CO2 emission reduction. However, a company can not be totally dependent on this energy source. Natural factors (weathers,seasons etc) fluctuate, therefore the supply is not constant. As Japan is a seasonal country, with short daytime in winter, it is impossible to obtain enough energy from solar panels alone. Storage facilities are required to make this energy source more reliable and the company even more sustainable (LeBlanc, 2018).

Next to renewable energy Sony has made up its own challenge ‘road to zero’. The aim is to decrease the environmental impact of the company to zero. Sony has organized several environmental activities around the globe, including: promoting bike use, reducing waste, cleaning up beaches and supporting sustainable practices. (Sony, 2018)

Sony also puts effort in sustaining environment in other ways. While taking care for the environment, those campaigns also contribute to their familiarity and value on the market.

Among 144 companies that are part of RE100, 11 of them are from Japan (RE100, (n.d.)). This shows that the Japanese companies significantly contribute to sustainable businesses. They realize the importance of sustaining the environment and hence took the lead in making an effort to use more renewable energy sources.

However, for Japan as a country it is important to reduce the carbon footprint to ensure a pleasant world for the next generations. Additionally, it adds to being less dependent on other countries for energy production. (Agency for natural resources and energy, 2017)

Japan has a low energy self-sufficiency ratio, 7,4%, compared to other countries as it does not have many natural resources. Therefore it relies on other countries for its energy supply. Oil, coal and natural gas, are mainly imported from overseas and requires huge amounts of energy, which is not sustainable. Before 2011 nuclear energy had an important role in the energy generation of Japan. Currently Japan is doing research on the usage of alternative energy options, like solar, wind, methane hydrate and hydrogen. (Agency for natural resources and energy, 2017)

Overall, Sony has made serious efforts to reduce its CO2 emission. Besides, events, campaigns and promotion are organized to reduce the environmental footprint in other categories as well, they aim to involve the users in this process as well. As a company, Sony really wants to live together in harmony with the environment.

Sony recently joined the RE100 to cooperate and move towards an 100% renewable energy usage. The Japanese companies, of the RE100, should be an example for Japan to implement more renewable practices and improve the environmental impact of the country.

* The majority of the readers of The Japan Times are non-Japanese, who live in Japan. The newspaper is also globally spread and seen as quality reporting (World Eye Reports).

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