Clean Energy Business

Fall 2012 – Recently there have been debates relating to the pursuit of non-renewable energy sources such as coal mining, fracking and oil extraction in the United States. Although the use of fossil fuels is convenient, would it not make more sense to utilize sustainable energy methods like wind and solar power? Would it not be beneficial to use methods that do not require us to depend on other countries? This seems logical, but the question is, why have we not done it? In order to understand more about energy practices in the U.S. I briefly investigated what businesses are doing to conserve and utilize renewable energy.

Many companies incorporate renewable energy into their business practices in order to “go green.” Some of these progressive organizations include Whole Foods, Dannon, Deutsche Bank and Pearson consulting. However, not only are these companies using renewable energy, but they “run on a minimum of 100% renewable energy” according to FORBES Magazine article Ten Companies Using 100% Renewable Power.

Personally, I was shocked by a company’s ability to use a minimum of 100% renewable energy, what does a minimum even mean? Apparently these companies purchase more renewable energy credits (RECs) than necessary and then redistribute those credits back through the nation’s energy grid; essentially they give away clean energy to other users who then use less fossil fuels (to learn more about this process visit http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/gpmarket/rec.htm)

With so many companies not using renewable energy, it just didn’t seem possible for a company to generate more clean energy than it needed. So then I did some investigating.

According to the Whole Foods website their company purchases “renewable energy credits (RECs) from wind farms to offset 100% of the electricity used in all of [their] stores and facilities in the United States and Canada.” In the business world, this is a major step towards sustainable business practices. However, why is it that all companies aren’t utilizing these sources of energy? Unfortunately it comes down to cost. Many small and medium size companies do not possess the finances to purchase renewable energy, or they choose to use fossil fuels because it is simply less expensive.

Since money is most important, what we really need to do is find a way to make renewable energy less expensive (or perhaps non-renewable energy more expensive). What about further tax incentives, credits, or cuts for businesses that are using sustainable energy? I wish I knew the right answer but the reality is something needs to be done; it will be up to us to figure out how.

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