Switched on to alternatives

C&I Issue 21, 2008

High energy prices, continuing fears over energy security and the increasingly urgent problem of global warming, mean that alternative and renewable energy technologies are becoming increasingly attractive. In Europe, nearly 40% of companies have already implemented or are actively investigating alternative energy for their businesses, according to a study by market research company Harris Interactive for Dow Corning Corporation. Globally, the survey found that one in four companies are investigating alternative energy technologies, with the main reasons being cost reduction, company reputation and environmental benefits.

 Summarised in the charts below, the survey involved telephone and electronic surveys with 1000 participants from a cross section of companies in eight countries: Brazil, Italy, China, Korea, France, UK, Germany and the US. Participating companies ranged from fewer than 50 employees to more than 5000 employees, with annual sales ranging from less than $10m to more than $50m. Respondents included personnel in positions ranging from technical manager to director of finance and R&D manager, including 300 individuals from the Americas, 416 from Asia and 284 from Europe. The key findings are shown in the charts that follow.

 Figure 1 shows that, overall, Americas, Asia and Europe show great similarity in regards to the companies’ approach to alternative energy. While all three regions say their companies are actively investigating alternative energy, they also respond that alternative energy is not an important issue. Despite public pressure that companies globally utilise alternative energy sources, only 6% of survey respondents say their company is doing so.

 Figure 2 shows that reducing energy costs, upholding the company’s reputation and promoting environmental benefits are the top factors influencing companies’ decisions about alternative energy. Respondents from Brazil and the US provided the highest rating on all factors. Addressing supply concerns regarding traditional forms of energy rated the lowest factor across all regions.

 Table 1 reveals that globally, 68% of respondents were not familiar with the term ‘carbon footprinting’. Asia in particular has the lowest level of recognition, with 90% of respondents unfamiliar with the term.

 Figure 3 highlights significant differences between attitudes to carbon footprinting, with companies in Europe placing more importance on the transparency of their carbon footprint than other regions. Asia and Europe responded significantly differently across the board from the Americas, with companies in Europe placing more importance on the transparency of their carbon footprint than other regions. Asia and Europe had much higher levels of consistency in their responses.

 Subsequent questioning in each of the three major geographical regions, revealed that a high number of respondents in the Americas do not agree that it is important to be important to be transparent about carbon footprinting. Almost a quarter (24%) of Americas’ respondents reported specific plans in place to reduce their carbon footprint, while 45% do not. In Asia, the research indicated the highest number of respondents answering ‘not sure’ about carbon footprinting due to their unfamiliarity with the term. Those who had a better understanding did respond with a high level of agreement regarding the importance of being transparent about companies’ cabon footprint. As many as 38% responded that reducing their carbon footprint was a priority of the company.

 Out of those surveyed in Europe, 57% agreed that it is important to be open about a company’s carbon footprint. Nearly half (46%) of respondents also indicated that reducing their carbon footprint was a priority for the company. It was nearly an even split when companies were asked about whether their company was considering including carbon footprint information on product labels.

 The complete survey can be seen at www.dowcorning.com

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