Patrick Stillhart, Chief Executive Officer at SADAFCO

By Patrick Stillhart, Chief Executive Officer at SADAFCO
Empowering the Future of Sustainable Business Operations with Renewable Energy

In our rapidly evolving business landscape, companies of all sizes put out serious efforts to reduce their environmental footprint, doing their part in the global battle against climate change. The transition to sustainable operations is no longer perceived as a nice-to-have option but rather as a necessity for achieving long-term success and profitability, building resilience, and, most importantly, preserving the planet's natural wealth for generations to come. Amidst this transformative journey, the paramount significance of harnessing renewable energy sources emerges as an indisputable cornerstone.

Looking at the bigger picture, countries in the Middle East are speeding up the deployment of renewable energy as they continue to decarbonise their power sectors. Notably, Saudi Arabia aims to increase the share of renewable energy in its power mix to 50% by 2030, while in 2022, the country's total installed capacity of solar energy reached 440 MW, up from just 22 MW in 2013. The Kingdom intends to reach net zero by 2060, in accordance with the wider Vision 2030 ambitions to accelerate the energy transition, accomplish sustainability goals, and stimulate a new wave of investment through Saudi Green Initiatives. With government incentives and regulations playing a key part in promoting renewable energy and innovative sustainable technologies, how can businesses in the region make the most of this change? 

Why renewable energy matters 

Organisations, particularly those in energy-intensive industries, face major hurdles during this transitional phase since they are required to drastically alter their business models and practices in order to reduce their energy consumption and costs, and ultimately become more environmentally friendly. In this quest, the potential of renewable energy sources, including the dazzling light of the sun, the great force of the wind, the mighty flow of the water, and geothermal power from the earth’s hidden depths, is boundless.

The advantages of implementing renewable energy into business operations far outweigh the challenges. These green alternatives point the way towards a more sustainable future without jeopardizing our finite resources. Adopting renewable energy can help businesses reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, while also supporting energy security in the long run. Solar panels, wind generators, and other renewable energy technologies produce electricity with little or zero carbon emissions. In addition, despite the considerable initial infrastructure investment, renewable energy results in serious cost savings, unaffected by fluctuating fuel prices and unpredictable geopolitical circumstances. Saudi enterprises, for instance, are well-positioned to employ solar energy for their operations due to the country's geographical advantage of year-round high levels of sunlight.

Reaching sustainable operations excellence with renewables

Even though there are many moving parts and complexities involved in greening business operations, the use of renewable energy sources may yield impressive outcomes in a relatively short period of time. Consider off -grid facilities as an example. Instead of using diesel generators which are expensive to run and emit large amounts of carbon dioxide, businesses can install photovoltaic systems to cover their energy needs as a first bold step to make their operations more sustainable.

Vehicle electrification and the utilisation of solar energy for fleet charging are also crucial for logistical operations. When combined with advanced analytics, sophisticated tracking and route optimisation, as well as management systems that provide full visibility, businesses have the opportunity to effectively minimise emissions and improve cost efficiency. Of course, we are not just discussing typical automobiles. SADAFCO uses 164 forklifts that travel on average 1500-2000 hours/annum per each forklift, moving thousands of pallets of raw materials and finished products. As part of its ongoing commitment to minimising its carbon footprint, the company intends to convert the forklifts at all of its depots and factories to an entirely solar-powered electric fleet in the near future.

Artificial Intelligence-based solutions may also assist businesses in identifying all possible energy efficiency improvement areas in their operations and processes. As an added bonus, businesses who invest in renewable energy technologies are more likely to witness a rise in corporate innovation. The efforts of research and development may inspire novel processes that disrupt the status quo of entire sectors. Moreover, we should keep in mind that consumers are becoming pickier about the businesses they support on the basis of their environmental policies. Making the switch to renewable energy can enhance public perception of a company and strengthen customer loyalty. 

The shift to clean, renewable forms of energy is set to redefine the very fabric of our business landscape. As the region and the world progress towards a carbon-neutral future, organisations that embrace renewable energy now will be in a stronger position to compete in an economy that values environmental responsibility. Furthermore, businesses that invest in sustainable operations have easier access to green financing, both private and public, as well as other important incentives, such as tax reductions, while enhancing their ability to attract and retain ecologically conscious talent. It is not only an ethical and societal duty, but also a strategic move to boost their competitive edge and ensure a prosperous future.

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