Sky plc is already using mostly renewable electricity and is now aiming to go '100% renewable' by 2020. Here, Fiona Ball, Head of Responsible Business, shares the company's plans for the future.

What is driving Sky to be ‘100% renewable’?

"Since 2006 when Sky became the first media company to go carbon neutral, taking a leadership position on environmental issues has always been key to our strategy. Supporting the procurement of renewable electricity is one of the ways we demonstrate this commitment.

"We have always had a commitment to procure renewable electricity and generate as much as possible of our own, or 'controlled' renewable energy outside our own sites – such as through Power Purchase Agreements - as we recognise their importance in the future economy."

How did you decide on your 100% goal?

"We wanted to show leadership and whilst committing to a bold and challenging target, we wanted to also recognise the business case and show that acting responsibly and being successful commercially go hand-in-hand.

"We can demonstrate the benefit of doing the right thing and leading by example, whilst also making our energy supply more resilient. We want to use natural resources wisely to help us build a better business, and contribute to a more sustainable future for everyone."

What are your achievements so far?

"We are on track to reduce our carbon intensity by 50% before 2020, now already at 38% reduction against our baseline. Since 2010 all of our electricity we purchase from the grid in the UK & Ireland is 100% renewable. In addition we reduce our emissions to net zero for the Group through the purchase of voluntary carbon offsets.

"We have invested in on-site renewable energy across our sites, working to reach a public target to obtain 20% of our energy consumption from owned or 'controlled' renewables. To date, we’ve invested over £8.5m in technologies ranging from a bespoke combined cooling and heating plant (CCHP) and a 100KW wind turbine, to solar panels and biomass boilers." 

What challenges and opportunities have you encountered while working to be 100% renewable?

"We’ve found that different countries have varying and sometimes restrictive options for purchasing renewable electricity which is a challenge. However, we hope that through our memberships in forums such as the Aldersgate Group, UK Corporate Leaders Group, and initiatives like RE100, we can carry more of a voice with other members and signatories to demonstrate the business desire for renewable energy." 

How do you plan to switch to renewable electricity going forward?

"At the moment across the UK & Ireland, our energy is provided by either our own on-site renewable energy plants or the rest we purchase from a renewable energy tariff for which we retain the Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin. We will maintain this, whilst working with our colleagues in Italy, Germany and Austria to expand this approach across the Group and encourage landlords where we don’t have control of the energy contract to also switch to renewable energy.

Why do you think it is important for companies to help increase demand for renewable electricity?

"Business is a fundamental part of society and expectations on business play a wider role in topics that have an impact on wider society – such as a climate change and the future of energy consumption. We need to maintain momentum post Paris COP21 and make sure actions come out of all of the hard work that went into last year. We need to send strong messages to markets and governments, pushing for a competitive, secure and sustainable energy system."

Why do you think RE100 is a good initiative to join?

"It provides an opportunity to be a part of something where there is a common goal and sense of ambition, and where we can reach a better outcome using our collective power." 

What else are you doing to help drive a low carbon economy?

"Our environment strategy is threefold: to reduce our carbon footprint; to make our products better and more sustainable; and to use our position as a leading media and communications company to raise awareness and drive positive change on environmental issues amongst our business partners and our customers.

"Our products are becoming increasingly more efficient, the latest design changes resulting in savings of 4.4 million tonnes of CO2 or £5.5million in terms of avoided energy costs per million products alone.

"As a result of Sky Rainforest Rescue, our six-year partnership with WWF, we’ve helped to save one billion trees and seen a decrease of over 25% in deforestation in the project area in the Amazon Rainforest, saving an estimated 3.7 million tonnes of CO2. In December 2015 during COP21 Paris, the initiative resulted in a commitment being made by the Acre state government to have zero net deforestation in its state by 2020, bringing this forward from their previous commitment by over 30 years."

Last updated: March 2016