Why wind energy is a key element for sustainable business

Vestas, the world’s largest wind turbine maker aims to put wind power on a par with oil and gas, by publicly rating the renewable energy content of consumer products.

In a move to encourage corporations and consumers to demand more use of wind energy in manufacturing and supply, Danish company Vestas Wind Systems created three transparency tools in 2011.

Supported by The UN Global Compact, the World Wildlife Fund, Bloomberg, PWC and others, the tools are designed to have a "pull effect". The hope is they will encourage companies to buy more renewable energy and provide consumers with the right information to make sustainable choices.

The Corporate Renewable Energy Index (CREX) is described as the first platform to allow companies to disclose their energy consumption. Through it, Vestas claims to have established the "most comprehensive snapshot" of corporate renewable use.

To support its launch, the turbine supplier ran a Global Consumer Wind Study (GCWS), surveying 31,000 consumers in 26 countries. Results revealed that 90% of consumers worldwide support renewable energy and 79% look more positively at brands produced with it.

Vestas subsequently founded WindMade, creating a direct link between companies’ energy purchasing decisions and consumer awareness.

WindMade, it says, is a unique consumer label signalling when products and services are created using wind energy.

The rating has since spawned an independent, non-profit organisation headquartered in Brussels and pioneered by 15 prominent founder brands – including Motorola, Deutsch Bank and LEGO.

Vestas has 70% more installed megawatts than its closest competitor. With more than 46,000 turbines, it generates enough electricity to power the households of Spain and Sweden, saving 55m tonnes of CO2.

With CREX, GCWS and WindMade, the company hopes to encourage greater use of wind across international supply chains.

WindMade was officially unveiled at the World Economic Forum in Davos and has since won numerous awards, including the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) Wind Advocacy award for "exemplary leadership and support of wind".

AWEA CEO Denise Bode said: "WindMade is probably the most unique communication initiative made in the wind business for the past 30 years. Vestas deserves to be commended … for this new way to drive demand for wind power and then letting it grow as a separate entity on behalf of the whole industry."

The company has since been able to use "energy transparency" to approach more than 600 executives and opinion formers, asking them to invest both in wind energy and the brand-building credentials it creates.

Lynn Beavis is part of the wordworks network, www.wordworksbysea.co.uk