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The fight against climate change is gripping societies worldwide as we battle to secure the health and prosperity of our planet. As governments worldwide set ambitious environmental targets such as Net Zero by 2050, we have seen a substantial increase in the number of renewable energy jobs. Many of the roles placed by our expert consultants are with some of the world's biggest renewable energy companies.
There are a number of organisations that are leading the market and making a profound impact on climate change and the health of the planet. They drive innovation, develop vital projects such as wind and solar farms, and ensure they reduce their emissions and become a more sustainable business.
This guide will explore the world's five biggest renewable energy companies. We will look at their products and services, impact on climate change, future ambitions, and efforts to increase their sustainability.
NextEra Energy Inc is a leading clean energy company whose headquarters are based in Juno Beach, Florida. It is one of the largest renewable energy producers worldwide, with a current generating capacity of around 30,000 megawatts, mainly from wind and solar sources. With a workforce of 14,900 employees, NextEro Energy operates in 49 U.S. states and 4 Canadian provinces. They generated $20.9 billion in revenue in 2022, which was an increase from $17 billion in 2021.
NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, is the largest global wind and solar energy generator and a world leader in battery storage. The organisation generates clean, emissions-free electricity from seven nuclear power units in New Hampshire, Florida, and Wisconsin.
The company has been a pioneer in solar power, with its achievements and objectives including:
In 2009 they built what at the time was the largest U.S. solar photovoltaic (P.V.) power plant.
In 2010 they constructed the world's first innovative solar-gas hybrid power plant.
The company plans to install an extra 30 million solar panels by 2030.
$85-95 billion of planned investment in infrastructure through 2025.
The company is committed to sustainability and set an ambitious target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 67% by 2025, compared with 2005 levels. Through their Real Zero Strategy, they plan to eliminate all carbon emissions from the U.S. by 2045. They have set objectives to lower renewable energy costs for customers and make it more affordable. This plan can potentially create 150,000 renewable energy jobs and provide an additional $15 billion in GDP.
The company was recognised on Fortune's 2021 list of companies who 'Change the World'. The award recognises organisations with a positive social impact through activities that form part of their core business strategy.
Iberdrola S.A. is a multinational electric utility company headquartered in Bilbao, Spain. They serve 100 million people across 16 countries and have a workforce of around 40,000 professionals. Whilst it was officially formed in 1992 due to a merger between Hidroeléctrica Española and Iberduero, the origins of Hidroeléctrica Española can be traced back to 1907.
Twenty years ago, the company took a major and brave step to transition from fossil fuels to cleaner and more sustainable energy. Today the company sets an energy transition example with the transformation of worldwide energy systems through its investment in renewable energy, green hydrogen digital transformation, large-scale energy storage, and smart grids. Beatriz Crisóstomo, Global Head of Innovation, commented on this:
"Twenty years ago, we made the decision to do something different, We started analysing the technologies and saw that wind energy was ready. There were many people that thought we were kind of crazy because we were investing in technology that was uncompetitive from an economic point of view. But we decided it was the moment."
According to its 2022 Sustainability Report, the company has a total of 60,761 megawatts (M.W.) installed capacity. Of this total, 40,066 MV is renewable. The company aims to achieve a carbon neutral status for Greenhouse Gas Emissions Scopes 1, emissions it makes directly, and Scopes 2, emissions made indirectly, by 2030. It hopes to achieve this for all scopes by 2040.
The report also highlighted its commitment to an ambitious renewable investment plan of €47 billion between 2023 and 2025. This investment will focus on increasing renewable, onward and offshore wind installation, battery and hydroelectric capacity, electricity grids, and photovoltaic.
Here are some of the firm's key recent announcements:
In February 2023, the firm signed a €150 green loan agreement with European Investment Bank to develop a solar and wind farm project portfolio in Italy. These would have a total capacity of approximately 400 MW and help accelerate the country's energy transition.
The company's Australia branch, along with the hydrogen developer ABEL Energy are creating a green methanol and green hydrogen plant at Bell Bay in Tasmania. The project, named Bell Bay Powerfules, is supported by the Australian government and involves an investment of €1.1 billion.
The Baltic Eagle offshore wind farm is scheduled to start operation at the end of 2024. It is expected to have a total capacity of 476 MW and provide sustainable energy for 475,00 households. It will save almost one million tonnes of CO2 annually.
The company also announced in April 2023 it had achieved commercial operation at its 162 MWax Pachwaywit Fields solar farm in Gilliam County, Oregon. It is now the state's biggest photovoltaic plan and will deliver clean, renewable energy to customers and municipalities who are enrolled in Portland General Electric's Green Future Impact programme.
Orsted A/S is a multinational energy company that develops, constructs and operates offshore wind farms, innovative waste-to-energy solutions, and bioenergy plants. The company headquarters are based in Copenhagen, Denmark, and are operational in over 30 countries. The company employs 8,000 people, and the group's revenue was €17.8 billion in 2022.
The company is a global leader in offshore wind and has built more offshore wind farms than any other developer worldwide. This portfolio includes the world's first offshore wind farm, Vindeby in Denmark, and the world's largest, Hornsea 2 in the U.K., with 165 turbines. Orsted is currently developing Hornsea 3, which has the potential to power 3 million homes, and Hornsea 4, which will power around a million.
Companies must seek to rapidly reduce their carbon emissions to play their part in the battle against climate change. Orsted A/S are a shining example of how this can be done. Just 12 years ago, the Danish company was known as DONG Energy and the majority of its revenues were made from selling heat and power, 85% of which came from coal and just 15% from renewables. Then in 2009, the firm made the momentous decision to make a key strategic shift and aimed to generate 85% of heat and power from renewable sources by 2040.
So Orsted invested heavily in offshore wind farms and phased out their reliance on coal. Just a decade later, in 2019, they had become the planet's largest producer of offshore-wind energy. In the U.K. alone, Orsted's wind farms produce enough electricity to power over seven million homes. It also raised its renewable energy share to 86%, achieving its target 21 years ahead of schedule.
Vestas Wind Systems is a wind energy organisation headquartered in Denmark and is committed to creating a greener world by designing, manufacturing, developing, installing, and servicing hybrid and wind energy projects globally.
Vestas was formed in 1945 as a manufacturer of household appliances and agricultural equipment in 1950. In 1979 it entered the wind turbine industry, and a decade later, in 1989, it produced wind turbines exclusively. They were the first company to reach the 100 GW landmarks for installing and servicing wind turbines.
Today they have a workforce of 29,000 and have installed +169 GW of wind turbines in 88 countries. Their sustainable energy solutions have already prevented 1.5 billion tonnes of CO2 from being emitted into the earth's atmosphere.
Vestas offer a range of products across three wind turbine platforms, each providing a vast portfolio of wind turbines suited to particular requirements and conditions of different wind projects. The three platforms on offer are:
The 4 M.W.
The 2 M.W.
The company have set itself ambitious environmental targets. At the moment, their average wind turbine is 85% recyclable, meaning that at least this amount can be recycled or re-used; their remaining challenge is recycling the wind turbine rotor. The rotors are made up of epoxy resin and glass fibre, which, whilst excellent materials to use, are difficult to recycle cost-effectively without leaving a greater carbon footprint than using virgin raw materials. However, the company is developing composite recycling technologies for its goal of zero-waste wind turbines by 2040.
The company is also committed to becoming carbon-neutral by 2030 without using carbon offsets. They are planning to achieve this by implementing the following:
By 2025 their entire corporate fleet will consist of zero-emissions vehicles.
Reduce CO2 emissions from their supply chain by 45% per MWh generated by 2030.
Henrik Anderson, the Group President and CEO at Vestas, stated:
"At Vestas, sustainability is the business we are in, it's one of the key purposes that our more than 29.000 employees come to work every day - to make the world a more sustainable place. Now - with the Vestas Sustainability Strategy, we are embedding sustainability into everything we do as we become the global leader in sustainable energy solutions."
Finally, on our list of the biggest renewable energy companies is Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy S.A. This Spanish-German wind engineering company specialises in providing offshore and onshore wind turbines and services. It is the world's second-largest wind turbine manufacturer.
The company was formed in 1976 under the name of Grup Auxilar MetALUR. It built its first 22 kW, 10m blade diameter turbine in 1981 (it was still generating power until 2016). Today, it has a workforce of 24,500 from over 100 nationalities; Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy S.A. reported revenue of €10.2 billion.
The company has a total installed capacity of over 118 GW worldwide, with in excess of 35,000 wind turbines installed in over 90 countries. The organisation has a strong presence in significant markets across the Americas, Africa, Europe, and Asia.
The company's recent pioneering product is the Recycleblade, which is the product to offer comprehensive recyclable solutions that is available for commercial use both offshore and onshore. Previously, the wind industry hasn't been able to recycle wind turbine blades upon decommissioning, meaning that blades end up in landfills.
However, thanks to the revolutionary RecyclableBlade technology, the materials can be recycled and reused in other industries. This is a significant step toward creating a waste-free future for the wind sector. If the RecyclableBlade were applied to all offshore projects worldwide planned until 2050, all the blades combined would equal more than 10,000,000 tonnes of recyclable materials.
As well as playing its role in producing the products and services that will support the battle, the company has made firm commitments to reducing its financial impact. It intends to reach net-zero emissions by 2040 (the previous target was by 2050). The company has already become carbon neutral in 2019, five years ahead of schedule. In 2020, the company became 100% powered by renewable energy.
In our overview of the world's biggest renewable energy companies, it's clear that they play a significant role in addressing climate change and advancing sustainable practices. These companies stand as real-world examples of how businesses can make a positive impact on the environment while also driving economic growth.
These companies showcase diverse strategies for tackling environmental challenges, from NextEra Energy's expansive renewable energy capacity to Iberdrola's commitment to carbon neutrality. Orsted's dedication to offshore wind farms and Vestas' innovative wind turbine technologies highlight the importance of continuous innovation in the renewable energy sector. Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy's RecyclableBlade underscores the importance of sustainable product design and waste reduction.
It is vital to remember that the journey towards a cleaner, more sustainable energy future involves a collaborative effort from industries, governments, and individuals alike. The strides made by these companies serve as a reminder that positive change is possible when innovation, dedication, and environmental responsibility intersect.
As CSG, we don't just partner with the world's biggest renewable energy companies; we are committed to supporting businesses of all sizes to find the talent they need, drive innovation, and impact climate change. We understand the current challenges in the industry around skills shortage and placing professionals in the vast number of renewable energy jobs.
With our profound industry knowledge and worldwide connections, we are uniquely placed to source the executive talent essential in the renewable energy sector. By partnering with us, you can pave the way for your company's growth while contributing positively to both your business and the environment.