Sustainable future with sustainable investing?

In our four-part blog series, EnerKey, Lumme Energia and Solarigo discuss sustainability and low-carbon energy use in both business and properties. The fourth blog post was written by EnerKey´s Jaakko Huhta, Vice President, Sales and Business Development.

In December of 2020, the International Energy Agency (IEA) published an extensive report on energy efficiency (https://www.iea.org/reports/energy-efficiency-2020). The report is both intriguing as well as thought-provoking. Globally, energy efficiency is one of the most significant of the realistic ways to achieve a sustainable future. In the IEA’s sustainable future scenario, energy efficiency will solve 40% of global CO2 emissions. Two-thirds of this shockingly large savings potential is in properties, the rest in industry and transport.

According to IEA, in near future it will be possible to create 1.8-4 million jobs globally around energy efficiency while tackling the humanity’s greatest common threat to date. The latter figure is expected to happen if the IEA’s Sustainable Recovery Plan is implemented. The plan includes companies and the public sector investing effectively in energy efficiency in the coming years. However, the report states that due to the Covid-19 crisis and declining energy prices, energy efficiency improvements have slowed significantly in 2020 and energy efficiency developments are now well below the target.

 

How to accelerate the slow progress?

So, nothing more than wrapping up our sleeves and starting the work towards the sustainable future then? Unfortunately, the matter is not that simple. The issue is that things are happening in a pace that is too slow. We should all act together quickly to solve this problem.

I generously admit that in addition to a responsible and proud environmentalist, there is also a capitalist living inside of me. If we want to achieve quick results, we need to add money into the equation. Although investments in energy efficiency are profitable projects, for one reason or another they are not implemented nearly as much as would be worthwhile.

Fortunately, technology solutions are evolving at a tremendous rate and generating better business opportunities each month. There are many investment opportunities, such as renewable energy production, heat recovery solutions, heat pumps, hybrid systems, digital services, carbon-neutral district heating, energy storage, LED lighting or even P2X solutions. The question stands, how to make investing in energy efficiency a top investment priority?

 

Money is now globally looking for a new home

The UN definition of sustainable development from 1987 is still very relevant:

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Sustainable investing is a new growing trend in the financial markets. Environmentally considerate investors and investments in sustainability contribute to sustainable development while providing a better return in the long run compared to the investments of other companies. Studies show that eight out of ten companies with a strong sustainability profile have better profitability, lower cost of capital and better efficiency.

Increasingly, investors are looking for environmentally sound companies in which to invest sustainably in the long run. An environmentally sound and sustainable company is one that is able to prove the environmental impact of its own operations with facts and data, has a clear plan for a carbon-neutral future and strong partners with whom the plan is implemented in a rapid pace.

Afterall, there is no time to waste.