ECOHZ has the idea of “Changing Energy Behaviour” as its core focus and vision. It plays out at so many levels – supporting political initiatives and the right policies; establishing standards and industry alliances; giving companies tools in their search for sustainability and enabling consumers to learn and wave their flag by behaving in the most energy responsible way.
“Changing energy behaviour is no longer about only being carbon neutral, but also energy positive. This changing behaviour from the policy initiatives to the consumer demand are sending critical signals to the market” concludes Tom Lindberg, Managing Director, ECOHZ.
Political developments and policy changes
Policy initiates progress. We see this in adapting to climate change, e.g., IPCC’s Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change and President Obama’s Climate Change Action Plan (2 June 2014). We see this in adapting financial transparency. 15 April 2014 the European Parliament approved the Directive on Non-Financial Disclosure. But changing energy behavior must also come from new solutions, buyers, and consumer demand.
One startling example of the impact of a targeted political initiative is how electrical cars have flourished into Norway; now the largest market for Tesla worldwide and the highest share of e-vehicles in the world. The reason: the right to use the taxi and bus lanes, plus elimination of high taxes, so that people can buy a Tesla for nearly the same price as a Toyota Prius Premium.
“Who would have thought a few years ago that Norway would have special road lanes for electric cars?” says Esben Pedersen, Communications Manager Scandinavia at Tesla Motors. Today, with more electric vehicles per capita than any city in the world, Oslo is recognized as the “electric vehicle capital.” Norway’s remarkable progress has gained attention worldwide, regularly hosting visits from Japan, Great Britain and China, eager to learn the key to Norway’s success. “It is the consumer,” say Pedersen, “who is driving this change by choosing environmentally friendly cars.”
Putting energy behaviour on the public agenda
These initiatives to move towards a greener society are being recognized. The capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana, won The European Green Capital 2016 award. Ljubljana received recognition for a variety of energy changes: raising environmental awareness, developing its sustainability strategy ‘Vision 2025’, implementing urban green measures, and changing its transportation network. From a city dominated by the car, the focus shifted to eco-friendly alternatives, such as public transportation. In 2013, Ljubljana modified the traffic flow to prioritize pedestrians and cyclists. Cycling is increasing, in part, by the city peddling its “BicikeLJ” bike-sharing system. Since 2011 it has provided more than 1.6 million car-alternative journeys, reflecting the city’s policy in its transportation plans. Ljubljana’s transportation plans are promising, moving closers to its 2020 goal: public transport, private vehicles, and non-motorized traffic, such as cycling, will equally share one-third of all transport.
Real change follows consumer demand
“The example with e-vehicles in Norway is great proof that real change will come when consumers see the value. We believe that we are at the beginning of a watershed of change, and we have a very optimistic view on the future – despite the mindboggling challenges with climate change. ECOHZ itself is a good example that you can run a successful business on renewable energy solutions, but more importantly we see several large consumer facing businesses putting energy behavior on the agenda,” says Tom Lindberg, Managing Director of ECOHZ.
In April, Norway’s largest financial services group, DNB, announced that they will commit to renewable energy by buying electricity documented by Guarantees of Origin. “Buying electricity from renewable energy sources is an effective way to neutralize the impact of greenhouse gases. For us, it is important to diligently document that we use renewable energy sources,” says Dag Arne Kristensen, Executive Vice President CSR & Corporate identity, DNB. By putting energy behaviour on their environmental policy agenda, DNB is setting the standard and changing energy behavior.
One consumer movement is to know where things come from. People want proof. Apples are marked to help consumers identify where they originate. But with electricity in the grid from several sources, how do you know where it originates? Is it produced from renewable energy sources or from coal production?
Electricity sourcing can only be categorized by origin. Origin matters and electricity consumers and buyers are becoming aware of this. Guarantees of Origin documents renewable energy from production to consumption.
Innovation and industry standards
Companies are changing energy behaviour by also producing as much energy as they use. To increase renewable energy use, 60% of the largest US businesses have set public climate and energy goals. To meet this goal, billions of kilowatt-hours are still needed. 12 large companies, including Facebook, Walmart, and P&G, launched the report Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles: Increasing Access to Renewable Energy. The report states that the companies are seeking “access to projects that are new or help drive new projects in order to reduce energy emissions beyond business as usual.”
As we have seen in more mature industries, the renewable energy business is being shaped by new innovations and industry standards. Building on GO (Guarantees of Origin), GO² enables companies to track their renewable energy consumption and contribute to develop new renewable energy generation. In short, produce as much as you use. With GO2 companies can contribute to transform the energy sourcing from carbon-based to sustainable solutions. It is in its early days, but ECOHZ is already delivering prospects that enable customers to unleash power plant projects previously blocked due to lack of financing.
Now GO2 is also becoming an industry standard: In May CDP and ECOHZ signed a partnership on GO² that involves creating an open source standard that allows other providers around the world to offer this new solution and participate in advancing the market’s renewable power generation.