Raquel Espada is Vice President of Energy Services and Sustainability at Schneider Electric. In this interview, she outlines the company's sustainability strategy and the projects they are carrying out.
Question: In Schneider Electric, you have two aspects in terms of sustainability: to be suppliers of energy efficiency solutions and to implement sustainable measures in your own processes. How do you manage this challenge?
Answer: Sustainability is in our DNA and is one of the added values we offer. Since 2004, we have been working on an energy program focused on reducing our energy consumption and carbon footprint by using our own solutions and services, with which we have achieved more than 20% energy savings globally and 40% in the U.S. We translate our commitment into very specific objectives: reduce 120,000 tons of CO₂ via retrofit and product life cycle management, 100% production of new products with ecodesign, and compliance with ISO 26000 from our suppliers.
Q: In the water market, what Schneider Electric’s services are demanded the most?
Since 2015, we have been advising the Bilbao Water Consortium in the bidding process of its electricity supply, seeking the most competitive and flexible conditions to maximize its efficiency and sustainability
A: Our energy management platform, EcoStruxure Resource Advisor, is very widespread in the sector. It is an online tool with which customers have immediate access to invoice data, energy and water supply contracts, costs and consumption reports, and allows them to manage their sustainability initiatives more easily.
In Scotland and the United Kingdom, after the liberalization of the water market, we are one of the few consultants that can advise large users in England to take advantage of new market conditions. Thanks to this advice, for example, a car company was able to achieve an annual savings of € 895,000.
But the greatest demand in recent years, especially in the United States, has been Energy Services Performance Contracts, with which water companies achieve savings in both investment and energy, without the need for additional funds from the Government. The realization of the contracted project ensures cost savings that can be used in other projects of interest.
Q: What projects do you have in the Spanish territory?
A: Since 2015, we have been advising the Bilbao Water Consortium in the bidding process of its electricity supply, seeking the most competitive and flexible conditions to maximize its efficiency and sustainability. We are also developing an energy program for a leading food company, where we perform an audit to help them meet their goal of reducing their energy consumption by 10%. After several observations, we have verified that the potential of saving in the consumption of water ascends up to 45%. Now our job is to implement the necessary improvements to achieve it.
Q: And finally, let me ask you the question that probably many customers ask. Where should we start? How do we get this commitment to sustainability translated into real and long-term results?
A: I am a strong advocate that sustainability is a critical factor in any company, and I believe that sustainability and strategy must go hand in hand. Its management must be led by the executive committee through a good strategy of corporate social responsibility.
We are committed to achieving carbon neutrality in 2030 thanks to the reduction of our CO₂ emissions and that of our customers. On this date, our intention is to use 100% of renewable energy sources, 100% of recycled or certified packaging and 100% of recovered waste, all doubling our energy productivity compared to 2005.
But to achieve real changes we need the collaboration of all the actors involved: stable regulatory frameworks; greater commitment on the part of political groups and companies; and greater awareness of society. Water will be a scarce and limited resource in a few years, it is necessary to raise awareness to achieve more efficient consumption.