BY TARA SWORDS Sustainable Energy
DONG ENERGY BACKS UP CLEAN POWER VISION WITH HARD ENTERPRISE DATA.
nergy companies that have a largely coal-based power
supply are in a unique position of being both the cause of
and the answer to many of the world’s environmental prob-
lems. Denmark-based DONG Energy is one such company.
Acknowledging its status as one of Denmark’s largest emitters of
carbon dioxide (CO2), its leaders have committed to becoming
part of the solution with aggressive sustainability goals that aim
to minimize the company’s environmental impact. The compa-
ny’s official policy is to cut its CO2 emissions per kilowatt-hour
by 50 percent between 2006 and 2020, and by 85 percent by
2040. By the end of 2010, DONG Energy was already further
ahead in meeting its goals than anticipated. The company has
begun closing down coal-fired power-generating units and has
shifted its focus to natural gas, biomass, offshore wind energy,
and the development of second-generation bioethanol.
The current incarnation of DONG Energy formed in 2006
when a number of large Danish energy companies merged to
become DONG Energy. From the outset, the company’s
decision-makers took environmental sustainability seriously,
and that same year they joined the United Nations Global
Compact calling for voluntary adherence to 10 principles,
including three that are intended to protect the environment.
But there’s no sense in setting goals if you can’t track progress toward them.
“I think many companies have visions for the sustainability or corporate social responsibility [CSR] work that they
are doing, but if they are not converted into concrete goals
that you can measure, it’s very hard to know if it is just talk
or if it’s also action,” says Niels Strange Peulicke-Andersen,
common systems manager in the Quality, Health, Safety, and
Environment group at DONG Energy.
In 2006, DONG Energy also became part of the Global
Reporting Initiative, which provides a universally accepted
framework for reporting nonfinancial sustainability data. The
company went a step further and brought in an external auditor
to declare the data solid so it could be included in the company’s annual CSR report.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned.
“The first assurance statement we got wasn’t very good, actu-
ally,” Peulicke-Andersen recalls. “It said they could state that we
are very good at adding numbers together on a company level,
but we were not completely sure of the quality of data that we
gather at that level. That’s when our department got the assign-
ment from the CEO that next year he wanted a very good assur-
ance statement from the external auditor.”
These reporting problems are typical of enterprises just
beginning their CSR journey and preparing their first CSR
reports, says Birgitte Mogensen, the PricewaterhouseCoopers