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An optimistic mood prevailed at this year’s AchillesLive Conference for Northern European Power & Utilities, focusing on renewables and responsible sourcing. Companies highlighted their sense of accountability for creating a brighter future shared by companies and policy makers alike. Can the region’s key players help to lead the world in driving positive change?
“In 20 years working with utility and energy companies, I’ve never felt such a sense of motivation and passion, engagement and enthusiasm.” So says Halvard Homme, Achilles’ Director for the Nordics. His comments followed the fourth AchillesLive conference, held on 18 and 19 September in Oslo, which focused on the transformation challenges facing utilities across Northern Europe. Including the governments’ investment plans for playing their fundamental role in the renewable energies domain, dubbed a ‘green industrial revolution’. Across the two days, there were some clear recurring themes regarding the continued growth of renewable energies, with the development of transparent supply chains and responsible sourcing guidelines hot topics over both days.
“We are a nation of renewables” remarked Kjell-Børge Freiberg, Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy, “Our renewable proportion is 70 percent – the EU is due to reach a target of 20 percent next year. And whereas half of our energy consumption comes from electricity, in the EU it is less than a quarter.”
“We are going to develop Norway as an energy nation, with the importance that has for society, for jobs and for industry. Taking care of the welfare of our coming generations” states Freiburg.
Supply chains are global, not local or regional. However, in some regions progress is much slower than in others.
“Some parts of the world still need to wake up – and the fact that some regions are lagging behind presents a clear risk to companies everywhere,” says Katie Tamblin, Head of Product, Achilles, who hosted the event. “A buyer is only as strong as the weakest link in its supply chain. If just one business isn’t fully aligned with your ambitions or responsible sourcing guidelines, and is delivering poorly, then you’re not living up to the standards you set yourself.”
This is especially important given recent Deloitte research demonstrating that just 6% of procurement leaders globally have full transparency of their supply chain, and two-thirds have little or no visibility beyond their tier 1 suppliers.
“A transparent supply chain is the key to transformation” is Katie Tamblin’s advice. “Gaining knowledge of your supply chain and being able to quickly determine if a supplier at any level is fit to do business with, are both essential for the sort of transformation so many companies are working towards. And it will help to force underperforming suppliers either out of the industry altogether or, more positively, to reform their practices.”
On a different scale, there are companies working on other transformation strategies, as Katie observes “ this is not just utilities companies moving to renewables and power companies entirely reinventing themselves, although that is remarkable in its vision, scale and ambition. I also mean companies like IBM and digital protection specialist Darkbeam developing AI and cybersecurity solutions designed specifically to reduce the risks associated with supply chain transformation.”
Helle Herk-Hansen, VP Environment Vattenfall, spoke at the event about how Coca-Cola European Partners and Vattenfall are partnering with one clear message. Going fossil fuel free within one generation. “Partnerships are important to secure a fossil free future “, says Helle. This powerful partnership is a great example of how collaboration can work cross sector with one common goal towards a more sustainable future.
Halvard Homme believes that enabling collaboration is a vital area for driving transformation. As he says, “For many decades, Norway has concentrated its efforts on offshore oil and gas production, building up massive expertise in the technologies, engineering challenges and health and safety issues involved.”
“Companies should seek to share their renewable energies and responsible sourcing expertise, helping to drive the economic and infrastructural transformation that’s so desperately needed in the renewables sector.”
Halvard is also quick to pinpoint another key feature of drive for change in renewable energies: accountability. “Utility and energy companies feel both responsible and accountable for change,” he says. “I for one am now very proud of the lead they and their industries are taking, particularly across the Nordic countries.”