As supplies of natural resources dwindle, technology company Continental has made it a top priority to keep production at all its facilities around the world as eco-friendly as possible. Since October 2019 the Continental conveyor belt plant in Santiago de Chile covers its electricity consumption with renewable energy sources by 100 percent. With that the site in Chile has taken a crucial step towards fulfilling the Climate Protection Strategy which is geared towards making business sustainable across all levels of the value chain. As energy consumption especially from fossil fuels contributes significantly to climate change, Continental sets itself the goal of using of electricity exclusively from renewable sources in all production sites by the end of 2020. “We have a duty to treat what the Earth provides with the greatest possible care and make every effort to protect the climate and environment by reducing the environmental impact of our production facility in Chile,” explained Tomás Valdivia, Supply Chain Manager of Continental in Chile. He initiated the change of energy suppliers to one delivering energy from renewable resources, thereby providing impetus and taking a pioneering role in the implementation of Continental’s goal.
He explained: “Switching the energy supplier might sound like a fairly straightforward task of quickly comparing suppliers on the internet. As a corporate customer though, one has to open a tender, compare offers, which are then negotiated and renegotiated in order to get the best possible solution that fulfils all requirements. A few years ago, this – and with that the systematic purchase of green electricity – was not possible at all for Continental in Chile. It was a change in legislation, leading to the implantation of the new concept of the ‘free customer’ that enabled the switch of suppliers. Legal regulation states that electricity consumers with an installed connection capacity between 500 kW and 5 MW can choose to either purchase their electricity via regulated tariffs like a regulated customer or purchase it as a free customer. This right to choose can be exercised once every four years. By opting to become a free customer, Continental in Chile was able to freely negotiate electricity prices with energy generators and set supply conditions via long-term power purchase agreements”.
In order to save energy more efficiently and optimize all processes, Continental Chile has also implemented energy efficiency programs and projects in its Chilean site since 2011 followed by the roll-out of DIN EN ISO 500011 standard for energy systems since this year.
Green commitment: A firm focus on environment and climate protection
Ever since Tomás Valdivia joined Continental in 2011, it has been his desire to make a clear commitment to climate protection and decarbonization. Powering the production facilities entirely with renewable electricity is not enough for him. He wants to go even further to achieve in Chile what Continental already realized at its Chinese location in Zhangjiagang: “It is my vision to power or plant with our own solar energy in the future.”
The renewable energy market in Chile is booming considerably, providing the market with dynamism and growth fostered by the government’s ambitious climate targets. 70 percent of the Chile’s electricity is supposed to be generated from renewable sources by 2030, coal power plants must be removed from the national electrical system by 2040and carbon neutrality is set to be achieved by 20502 . And in Chile the conditions are perfect: wedged between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes, Chile stretches 4,200 kilometres between Peru and Cape Horn. Apart from the windswept coasts and cascading waterfalls, its Atacam desert is sun-drenched all year round. This wealth of natural resources can provide plenty of clean energy. Also, Chile has become one of the first countries in the world with subsidy-free markets, where renewable projects compete directly with other conventional sources. Successful policy reforms are another decisive factor fostering the development of renewable energies. “As soon as we were able to change our status from a regulated customer to free customer, we decided to open a tender for electricity companies. Several companies participated and we reviewed different offers followed by renegotiations. Of course, not only renewables played a role in the selection process, the prices were a deciding factor as well,” explained Valdivia
This also includes the choice of our suppliers, which is influenced by environmentally compatible, eco-friendly practices. I am very glad that we were able to change our energy supplier to Latin America Power (LAP). With them we were able to deliver on the important corporate goal to the use of electricity from renewable sources at all production sites already at the start of this year,” Valdivia added.
In the end, Latin American Power won the race. LAP was the only supplier providing energy completely from renewable sources with investments in Chile and Perú. “We are very pleased that we were able to convince Continental with our offer and our success story of sustainable value creation. Together with companies such as Continental that decide to change their energy provider to one that supplies energy from renewable resources like us, we will be able to meet the government’s climate targets,” says Diego Hollweck, CEO at LAP. LAP currently has a capacity of 239.2 MW wind power and 29 MW hydraulic power and there is more in development. “We are running our plant on 100 percent green electricity now and are saving 1,67 tons of CO2 emissions per year.”
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